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Michael Jackson’s Memorial Service From An Event Planner Perspective

Updated on July 7, 2009


For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with Hollywood (old Hollywood that is) and I always dreamed that if I was rushed to a hospital it would be Cedars-Sinai and when my time would come I would be laid to rest at Forest Lawn. So in watching the start of the circus that was the Michael Jackson farewell, I couldn’t help but be a little jealous as the ten black Rolls Royce cars, then the ten Land Rovers then the buses (must have been for the great-grandchildren or lesser Jacksons) arrive at Forest Lawn. I don’t think in my fantasy I wanted to be as well known or exploited as Michael Jackson but here he was having my funeral and all I could think was “Shamon, Jackson, give me my funeral back.” Michael Jackson’s Memorial Service From  An Event Planner Perspective – Don’t Get Me Started!

The first ones out of the first Rolls was the mother, Katherine with Michael Jackson’s three children in tow. I guess that’s when it hit me that I’ve been to a lot of funerals but I can’t imagine the grief of losing a child. Katherine Jackson gets my vote for classy and the ultimate matriarch. (Well, at least for 2009) Then there were all these other people milling about that we could really only see what they were wearing from the CNN cameras. Who might that be in the black velvet sports coat (and hadn’t they gotten the memo that it’s summer and you don’t wear black velvet?) Or who was the imbecile who was in the big oversized yellow shirt, baggy white pants and baseball cap? Had to be family or someone close to the family to get into the shindig at the Forest Lawn service but he was a complete ass and obviously hadn’t read the “what to wear to a funeral service” manual that no doubt the event planners gave out to everyone.

That’s when it dawned on me. As someone who has directed grand opening events (complete with pyrotechnics and celebrities – sometimes they seem like the same thing) and also done my fair share of weddings and bar mitzvahs I decided that while this is certainly an amazing event on some event planner’s resume, it also has to be one of the most nightmarish gigs to get. Can you even imagine? I’m sure that there were event planners for each section of the day and that they all just coordinated because it’s too big of a job even for a gay. But even so, even if you were only responsible for the Forest Lawn portion, you had your hands full.

As CNN reported that things were all ready running about half an hour behind schedule I thought, somewhere there’s a caterer and an event planner stuffing their faces with the crepes that will now have to be remade because the half hour schedule adjust will make them inedible by the time the family gets to them. And for those of you who don’t think that there was food served, I can assure you that not only because I’m Jewish but because I know how these events go with no one eating before hand and the event planner having to pre-think everyone’s needs before they have them, there were definitely snacks, meals and even doctors on hand to give out the much needed Xanax at this event.

The memorial (or let’s face it and call it what it is, the show) at the Staples center is no problem. Those people have been putting shows on forever so other than making sure Mariah Carey knows where to stand, there’s stress involved but not like trying to figure out who the hell Rebbie Jackson is (the Jackson daughter you never hear about) so you don’t accidentally have her sitting behind a celebrity who had never met Michael Jackson.

No, from the limos (can you imagine trying to get a limo in LA that day?) to the family to the food to every minute detail of the event, only another event planner would think about the trials and tribulations going on in the event planner’s life at this event and wondering how much vodka and Tucks pads the event planner will need over the next couple of days to recover. Let me just say…a lot of both! (And yes, the Tucks pads are to help reduce the bags under your eyes from not sleeping a wink the evening before as well as for your hemorrhoids from clenching your ass so tightly during the entire event hoping Joe Jackson doesn’t hit one of the kids during the event.)

Well, the good news is that the event was a huge hit. The bad news is that we’ll have to look at it for weeks and weeks to come as the networks replay it, try to sell us a DVD of it and the insipid “reporters” on shows like Entertainment Tonight analyze and over-analyze every minute of it over and over again.

Some final thoughts on the event and moving forward: I think Elizabeth Taylor proved she’s pure class with her tweet on Twitter regarding the event and her absence, “I just don’t believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others. How I feel is between us. Not a public event.” How can you not love her? And as far as the “concert that never was” they have plenty of rehearsal footage of it that they will no doubt be packaging and selling to us. I heard a rumor somewhere that the producers would like to try and still make the concerts happen so as to not lose all the work (otherwise known as money) they’ve put in. So who should they put into the show? I’ll tell you. The Jacksons themselves with Janet as the headliner. Between all of them, they can each learn one of two numbers quickly and after all, the Jacksons are a show biz family. As a performer, I can tell you that getting on stage in the face of tragedy can be a great solace and healer for the performer. It would be a cathartic experience for the Jacksons and profitable for everyone.  And if they’re looking for someone to help plan some of the lead up events…well, I’m sure they’ll no doubt find me! Michael Jackson’s Memorial Service From  An Event Planner Perspective – Don’t Get Me Started!

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    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 8 years ago from Las Vegas have NO idea. It will be a chocolate fountain that you'll have to keep my story with one of those when I helped my best pal do a bar mitzvah for her son...

      pinkypat41 - so sad for you that you are either too young or too dumb to understand that some of us use humor to deal with the most difficult of situations. It is that humor that keeps us sane and makes us human. Trust me, I hope when I go there are plenty of people to make plenty of catty comments. Let the games begin!!!

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      pinkypat41 8 years ago

      You are nothing but a disrespectul, hateful, and classles bitch!! I feel sorry for you and those who surround you, sinse you are obviously incapable of having enough class to respect the dead.

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      pgrundy 8 years ago

      When I go to hell they will give me a job as an event planner, and I will definitely be planning events for debauched stars (in hell) and messing everything up and stuffing crepes in my mouth because of half hour delays. I can't think of a more hellish job, and of course I will have to wear a headset, another personal torture. I've brought this on myself so I can't really blame anyone BUT myself for what awaits me. But if you will be there at least I can laugh. Thanks Scott.