3:53 p.m. And we're done. The talking heads are back on the air. I'll be one of them myself tonight on NECN's "Broadside" at 6 and WGBH's "Greater Boston" at 7. Check it out - and thanks for viewing and commenting.
3:41 p.m. The last word comes from Jackon's daughter, Paris Katherine Jackson, who cries while speaking. "Daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine."
3:34 p.m. People in the audience are screaming. People onstage are embracing. Jermaine is speaking. He thanks the audience. "I stand here trying to find words of comfort, solace," says his brother Marlon, who talks about coming home from school with Jackson and trying to watch "The Three Stooges" before being herded to the recording studio. He talks of spotting Michael in disguise in a record store, and painting Jackson, like others have today, as a victim of fame. "Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone," he says. He also asks Michael to hug his other brother - Marlon's twin brother, Brandon, who died in childbirth.
3:30 p.m. Jackson's song "Heal the World" seems to be the final performance, sung beneath an image of the Earth. Again, I find his signficance as an African-American cultural figure -- and a strange and extreme example of the perils of child stardom -- to be more compelling than his supposed position as global martyr and peacemaker. Jackson was many things, but he was not all things.
3:25 p.m. Oh, my. It's "We Are The World." Jackson's family is onstage with some of the performers. And now here come the children holding hands. This, to be honest, feels over-the-top.
3:22 p.m. Kenny Ortega talks of directing Michael Jackson's planned tour. (He also worked on the "Dangerous" and "HIStory tours," as well as the "High School Musical" movies.) He called the tour that wasn't Jackson's greatest work - and introduces what would have been one of the performances in the London concerts.
3:19 p.m. A precocious boy onstage sings "Who's Loving' You," Smokey Robinson's aforementioned song. His name is Shaheen Jafargholi and he's 12, a finalist on "Britain's Got Talent." It's an odd image to leave us with, another child star of significant talent, filling the role of an adult.
3:13 p.m. Smokey Robinson is heading back up. "I wrote that song!" he says of the Jackson 5 clip. He's telling the same story Berry Gordy did, I think. "This boy cannot possibly be 10 years old," he remembers thinking. Again, we're back to thinking of Jackson's oddities, of the Benjamin Button-ness of his life, the fact that he had so much maturity as a young entertainer, and so much immaturity in his personal life as an adult.
3:10 p.m. Usher, wearing shades when he really doesn't need to, sings "Gone Too Soon." Entertainers have their indulgences, too. I believe his tears much less than I believed Brooke Shields.' They should have ended with Jermaine - the most powerful moment by far.
2:59 p.m. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is also wearing white, and mourning on behalf of Congress. I'm missing Brooke Shields. Amazing how a real politician - as opposed to a real entertainer - can slow things down to a boring crawl. That was worse than when Clive Davis used to talk on the "American Idol" finale shows.
2:53 p.m. Martin Luther King III and Bernice King reference their own family's public tragedies, as the memorial shifts again from the personal to the political.
2:48 p.m. And here is Jermaine Jackson, singing "Smile." Like many other Jackson relatives, he's wearing a yellow tie and that single sequinned glove. The shot of him singing over the casket is tremendously moving - this is a man singing to his baby brother.
2:39 p.m. An emotional Brooke Shields is onstage, telling stories. She met Jackson when she was 13, and references the difficulty of child stardom. "When we were together, we were two little kids having fun," she says. She refers to him as "MJ," and tells stories about sneaking into Elizabeth Taylor's bedroom with him to glimpse her wedding gown. She tells us that Michael Jackson's favorite song was Charlie Chaplin's "Smile." Again, I'm struck by how personal and specific these tributes are - and how much more enlightening they are than any of the commentary we've seen on TV in the last week and a half.
2:34 p.m. John Mayer is onstage, playing an instrumental version of "Human Nature" on electric guitar. The background singers pick up. It's sort of a crossover moment.
2:30 p.m. Al Sharpton is looking slender. He makes reference, again, to Jackson as a family member, a real person as opposed to a cultural figure. Camera cuts to a child in the front row, holding a doll. ''Wasn't nothin' strange about your daddy, what was strange was what he had to put up with," Sharpton says to the kids." This is a public moment for Jackson's children, and an uncomfortable one.
2:21 p.m. Jennifer Hudson, dressed in white, is onstage singing "Will You be There." Like Stevie Wonder, she seems emotional.
2:16 p.m. Kobe and
Shaq Magic Johnson are onstage now - remembering Jackson as a Lakers season ticket holder. These are great glimpses of Jackson as a person - playing with firecrackers(!), playing softball with his family, eating a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. "That was the greatest moment of my life," Johnson says of dining over KFC on the floor with Michael. And this: "He allowed Kobe and I to have our jerseys in homes around the world, because he was already there."
2:11 p.m. Twitter is currently "over capacity," which means a lot of people are watching this.
2:07 p.m. Stevie Wonder sits at the piano. "This is the moment that I wished I didn't live to see come," he says. "We can't help but love you forever Michael." Then he launches into "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer."
2:03 p.m. Now we get the video clips. I could watch hours of this. Interesting that the clip package references the "questionable decisions," too.
2:02 p.m. Berry Gordy has given what seems to me, so far, to be the best and most honest Jackson tribute of the last week and a half. Acknowledgment of "questionable decisions," but also of the fact that Jackson managed to fulfill "his wildest childhood dreams." Talks about his childlike persona offstage versus his complete control and magnetism onstage. And a conclusion that he was "simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived."
1:54 p.m. Motown founder Berry Gordy speaks - and remembers the Jackson 5 audition back in 1968. Smokey Robinson smiles at the memory that young Michael showed him up. It's worth noting, as Queen Latifah did, that we've seen largely African-American faces onstage here so far, and a reverence befitting a political figure (because culture is politics, to a large extent.) His significance to the black community can't really be overstated.
1:50 p.m. OK, so Lionel Ritchie is doing this instead. "Jesus is Love" is a better song that "We Are The World," anyway.
1:45 p.m. Queen Latifah remembering doing the robot to Jackson 5 songs. She pays tribute to his significance to the African-American community. And reads a Maya Angelou poem. Of course, there would be a Maya Angelou poem.
1:40 p.m. Mariah Carey begins "I'll Be There." Black dress with lots of side cleavage. Trey Lorenz joins here, and they duel it out on the high notes. If we're going to go in chronological order, following his career, that would be fitting. Will Lionel Ritchie come out to do "We Are The World"?
1:37 p.m. Out of the cable nets, only Fox has a news crawl going.
1:34 p.m. And it begins with gospel music. Beautiful voices. And quite eerie to see his casket there, watching.
1:30 p.m. On Fox: Shep Smith reading from Lisa Marie Presley's MySpace page. (With disclosure that Fox News and MySpace share a parent company.)
1:24 p.m. And now I'm beginning to feel bad for the anchors. This endless vamping is tough. Because they're trying to be so respectful and polite.
1:14 p.m. Room falls silent. I wish the anchors would, too. Sometimes moments of silence are useful, memorialwise.
1:12 p.m. Smokey Robinson is talking! Reading letters from fellow stars. Diana Ross...Nelson Mandela. The crowd cheers politely. Lights dim.
1:00 p.m. Someday soon there will be a Michael Jackson stamp and an Old Michael/New Michael debate. Personally, I love watching the video clips from the "Thriller" era. It makes me feel better about things, albeit in full denial.
12:51 p.m. Early shots from inside the Staples Center. Eerie blue glow onstage.
12:40 p.m. Just heard, via MSNBC, that Jackson's son Prince (the elder, I'm assuming) might be performing. THAT would be worth watching.
12:23 p.m.: Slow tracking of hearse through Los Angeles. Is it sick of me to say that this reminds me of the O.J. Simpson car chase?
Hello, all. I'll be liveblogging the Michael Jackson memorial throughout the afternoon...feel free to chime in with comments!
I'll start by saying that the crowds are forming in front of Los Angeles' Staples Center, and the cameras are focusing on the costumes. On Fox News, I just saw a guy who looked like he belonged at a Gene Simmons memorial, instead. (Simmons is very much alive.)