Michael Jackson's Memorial is scheduled to begin at 10AM PDT/1PM EST live from The Staples Center in Los Angeles. Millions are expected to converge into downtown L.A. and over 1 billion people are expected to view it online. For those of you who may be at work and are unable to watch the event on television you can view it online here or below via Hulu. I will also be live blogging the memorial. This will be my very first live blog so please return later this afternoon to check it out.
11:30 AM EST The doors have been opened to the Staples Center. Fans are quietly filing in.
11:42 CNN's Don Lemmon is showing the beautiful gold MJ Memorial service program booklet. Pics of Michael with his mother, former Presidents, Liz Taylor, and his siblings. There's a quote from Psalms included by his sister Rebbie.
11:49 Private family service is being held at Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills. MJ's body will be transported to the Staples Center following.
11:59 MJ's casket is being brought out of Forest Lawn and placed in the hearse for transportation to Staples Center. The brothers are pallbearers. This is so surreal.
12:21 The Jackson family motorcade has begun the 20 minute drive from Forest Lawn to The Staples Center.
12:38 Singer Dionne Warwick is now entering The Staples Center for the memorial service.
12:45 Director John Singleton is now entering The Staples Center. Singleton directed Jackson's Remember The Time video.
12:48 Jackson's hearse is now entering an underground entrance at The Staples Center for the memorial service.
1:11 Smokey Robinson is reading a statement from Diana Ross in her absence. Ross pledges to be there for Michael's kids as he wished.
1:13 Robinson is also reading a statement from former S. African President Nelson Mandela.
*Minutes from the official start of the ceremony. Twenty thousand people are inside The Staples Center. Over a billion watching around the world.*
1:33 Jackson's body is being brought to the front of the stage to thunderous applause by fans. Gospel choir is singing "Soon and very soon we're going to see the king".
1:36 Pasor Lucious Smith is giving the welcome.
1:40 Mariah Carey is on stage in a beautiful black dress singing" I'll Be There". Rough start but let's pray it gets better. It just did... Trey Lorenz is joining her.
1:45 Queen Latifah is at the podium "representing for the fans". "Michael was the biggest star on earth. He let me know that as an African-American you could travel the world. There was a world outside of America." Reciting "We Had Him" by Dr. Maya Angelou. "In Birmingham, Alabama, and in Birmingham, England we are missing Michael Jackson".
1:50 Lionel Richie is singing "Jesus Is Love". Standing ovation. Very moving performance.
1:54 Motown Founder Berry Gordy is at the podium giving condolences on behalf of the Motown family. Recalling the Jackson 5 audition for Motown. "Michael was way beyond his years, sang with feeling and inspiration. He was simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived."
2:04 An amazing video tribute chronicling Jackson's career has begun.
2:07 Stevie Wonder is being escorted to the piano. "This is a moment that I wish that I didn't live to see come. As much as we need Michael here God needed him far more". Singing "I Never Dreamed You'd Leave In Summer".
2:15 Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson are at the podium speaking about Michael's humanitarian efforts.
2:21 Jennifer Hudson enters the stage to sing "Will You Be There". Yes!!!!
2:25 Al Sharpton is at the podium explaining to the MJ haters why he's so loved around the world. "Because Michael kept going..because he didn't accept limitations he broke down the color barriers. It was Michael Jackson that brought blacks and whites together. People who thought they were separate became interconnected through his music".
To the kids:" Wasn't nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what he had to deal with". Preach Rev. Al!!!
2:33 John Mayer is performing "Human Nature" on his guitar. Michael Jackson's vocal coach and others are providing vocals.
2:39 An emotional Brooke Shields has just stepped up to the podium. Reflecting on their relationship.
2:47 Jermaine is performing Michael's favorite song "Smile". I'm not sure where he's finding the strength to sing. He's in great voice. *Standing ovation*
2:53 Martin Luther King III and Bernice King are now speaking. Not sure why Bernice is there...her ugly homophobic spirit just ruined an amazing moment for me.
2:56 Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee haling Michael's life as "an American story". "I don't sing, dance, or write music but I do understand law and I know people are innocent until otherwise proven guilty. " Introduces resolution 600 to honor MJ.
3:07 Usher is singing "Gone Too Soon." Walking towards casket.
3:17 Smokey Robinson reflects on writing "Who's Loving You" and Michael's incredible vocal performance of it.
3:18 Shaheen Jafargholi from Britain's Got Talent is killing "Who's Loving You". *Standing ovation*
3:23 Kenny Ortega, Michael's creative director introduces video footage from This Is It. A performance of We Are The World.
3:28 The entire family and invited speakers are on stage for "Heal The World."
Marlon Jackson and Michael's daughter Paris say their final goodbyes in a gut wrenching moment. The casket is wheeled out of the Staples Center and a beautiful bright light is directed at a picture of Michael center stage.
Gone Too Soon. Michael Joseph Jackson 1958-2009. Rest In Peace.
Watch all of the performances from the memorial here via Music Is The Heart of Our Soul.