ARE YOU READY?!? In a little over an hour, the biggest, most ridiculous funeral in funeral history is set to begin. Here’s what you need to know:
• Scheduled to attend today’s funeral for Michael Jackson: Michael Jackson. The King of Pop’s (brainless?) corpse will be escorted to the Staples Center from a private family ceremony at Forest Lawn (which is taking place now) by a SWAT team. Should traffic become an issue, the contingency plan involves a helicopter. [TMZ]
• Speaking of traffic — gas up that helicopter! The L.A. city council has released a hilariously complicated map explaining (sort of) the various street closures that Angelenos will encounter today, should any be crazy enough to leave their homes. [Curbed]
• How much is all of this costing Los Angeles, which didn’t have enough money even before this shitstorm hit? $3.5 million, claims one city official. Just to be safe, mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is asking the Jackson family for $4 million to help cover security and helicopter gas (presumably). [E! Online, TMZ]
• This morning, elephants and other various animals (see photo) were loaded into tents behind the Staples Center, where they’ll remain until tomorrow’s scheduled performance by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. Presumably some clever person will find a metaphor for something in this, but we’re simply unable to come up with one right now. Alas. [LAT]
• Get excited! Roger Friedman is reporting that Jermaine Jackson (yes — that Jermaine Jackson!) may perform Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” to close out today’s festivities. [Showbiz 411]
• Doing her small part to ease traffic will be Elizabeth Taylor, who tweeted yesterday that she will not be in attendance: “I’ve been asked to speak at the Staples Center… I cannot be part of the public whoopla… And I cannot guarantee that I would be coherent to say a word.” [Us]
• So where can you watch this blessed event? If you’re at home, try your television, since every channel will be carrying it live. If you’re at work, we’d recommend TMZ’s video stream. Vulture will have a live blog (or some simulacrum thereof) beginning once things get under way.