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Culture

Family says no to Neverland funeral as rumours abound

Video by Catherine VIETTE , Meriem AMELLAL

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-07-02

Michael Jackson's family have ruled out a glitzy funeral ceremony at the "Thriller" star's sprawling Neverland ranch, while speculation about drug abuse and about his children's future continues to grab the headlines.

Michael Jackson’s family has ruled out a fairy-tale funeral at the self-proclaimed "King of Pop’s" sprawling Neverland ranch.

They also poured water on media reports that Jackson’s body would go on public display at the property. Rumours had prompted an army of fans and journalists to flock to the estate on Wednesday.

Speculation that Neverland, the gates of which are emblazoned with the words "Once Upon a Time", would be turned into a permanent shrine to the singer, like Elvis Presley’s Graceland, was also dispelled.

"Contrary to previous news reports, the Jackson family is officially stating that there will be no public or private viewing at Neverland," a statement released by the family's public relations firm said. "Plans are underway regarding a public memorial for Michael Jackson, and we will announce those plans shortly."
   
The confusion over Jackson's funeral arrangements came as the picture surrounding the star's estate appeared to be clearing up with the emergence of a will established in 2002. The will was filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Country Superior Court.
   
In yet another surprising twist to the aftermath of Jackson's death, it was revealed that soul singer and close friend Diana Ross was named in the will as a back-up guardian to the children in the event of the death of his mother Katherine, who is named as legal guardian.
   
The five-page document also revealed the singer's assets were to be left in the Michael Jackson Family Trust, but the terms of the trust have not been disclosed.
   
Documents filed in addition to the will valued Jackson's estate at more than 500 million dollars, although it was not clear how that figure had been reached. Jackson was believed to be heavily in debt at the time of his death.
   
The document also "intentionally omitted" ex-wife Debbie Rowe, who is the mother of Jackson’s eldest children, Prince Michael and Paris.

The Los Angeles Times reported, however, that Rowe, an animal lover who lives on a farm with 50 horses on money paid in settlements made with Jackson, “is considering” making a custody bid.

“Rowe is considering whether to challenge Katherine Jackson, the late pop icon's mother, for custody,” the newspaper reported.

Legal experts believe she has a strong case, according to the LA Times story, saying that it would be up to the Jackson family to convince a judge that it would not be in the children's best interest for her to win custody.
 
Jackson died from an apparent cardiac arrest on Thursday, aged 50. A cause of death has not yet been determined, pending the results of toxicology tests.

There was renewed speculation about the singer's use of powerful prescription drugs amid reports that the sedative Propofol — often used as an anesthetic in hospitals — was found at his home.
   
"There is no conceivable way this drug can be properly prescribed for home use," a source told the celebrity gossip site TMZ.com, which described the drug as an "extremely dangerous and potent" substance only available to medical personnel.

TMZ, which had the scoop on the announcement of the “Thriller” star’s death, also claimed Jackson had used a string of aliases to procure powerful prescription drugs including Demerol, a morphine substitute.

Quoting unnamed sources, the site alleges: “The prescription abuse was so egregious, one doctor would call the pharmacy and say Jackson was coming down to get Demerol. The pharmacy would then fill the prescription, leaving the patient's name blank."

According to TMZ.com, police are reportedly seeking to identify and interview "multiple doctors" who treated Jackson in the years before his death.
   
Since his death, Jackson shot to the top of the charts in the United States on Wednesday with Billboard revealing that the singer's music occupied nine of the top 10 spots on the pop catalog album chart.

Date created : 2009-07-02

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