Saying Goodbye to Michael Jackson

Rodney Jerkins talks about Michael Jackson

Ten weeks after his death, Michael Jackson will finally be laid to rest Thursday evening at the historic Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, Calif. "Extra" spoke with music producer and longtime Jackson friend Rodney Jerkins about why it took so long to bury the King of Pop, and why the family has had such trouble letting go.

Jerkins says Jackson's death was completely unexpected and family members were not prepared for the amount of grief they experienced. Jerkins says he "can't imagine" the pain the Jackson family is in. "As close a friend as Michael was to me," he says, "If it's family, it's just a whole other level."

Jerkins, along with such guests as Macaulay Culkin, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, will attend the funeral. There's no word yet, however, on whether MJ's ex wife Debbie Rowe will be there.

Jackson isn't the only legendary celebrity buried at Forest Lawn. Hollywood royalty like Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Walt Disney and Sammy Davis, Jr. also call Forest Lawn their final resting place.

For today's funeral, officials have closed the cemetery. Law enforcement and security have surrounded the area. The airspace above the cemetery is also on lockdown by the FAA.

Jackson died on June 25 after suffering cardiac arrest.

12 Facts about Michael Jackson's Funeral

Hidden

Michael will be buried at Forest Lawn Glendale, in what will be a hidden monument in a mausoleum made of marble and mortar.

Ten Weeks Later

Michael is being laid to rest ten weeks after his death — longtime Jackson friend Rodney Jerkins told “Extra” the family wasn’t prepared to say goodbye.

Jerkins says Jackson’s death was completely unexpected and family members were not prepared for the amount of grief they experienced. Jerkins says he “can’t imagine” the pain the Jackson family is in. “As close a friend as Michael was to me,” he says, “If it’s family, it’s just a whole other level.”

Celeb Friends Say Goodbye

Macaulay Culkin, Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight will attend the funeral.

At Rest with Legends

Jackson will be in the Great Mausoleum, joining Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, W.C. Fields and Red Skelton. Other famous names buried at Forest Lawn include George Burns, Gracie Allen, Walt Disney and Nat King Cole.

The Last Supper

In the Mausoleum, there’s a life-size stained glass recreation of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

Nearby are two of the world’s largest paintings, “The Crucifixion” and “Resurrection.”

History

Forest Lawn was founded in 1906 by a group of businessmen on 55 hillside acres in the town of Tropico (later Glendale).

AP says there was no forest and no lawn — just a traditional graveyard.

Eliminating Tombstones

In the early 1900s, manager Hubert Eaton began convincing people to buy plots before they died, and sales began booming.

Eaton soon eliminated tombstones for grass and lawns. He changed the name “cemetery” to “memorial park,” and soon began collecting art and adding trees, florists, gift shops and chapels.

Liberty

AP reports the park was divided into sections like Slumberland, Babyland, Graceland and Inspiration Slope, and patriotic sections (“Liberty” and “Victory”) were incorporated in the 1950s.

Whites Only?

AP says Forest Lawn once had a whites-only policy, but park spokesman William Martin told AP he didn’t know what year that ended.

Total Privacy

The Jackson family has said they desire privacy, and they’ll get it in the Mausoleum. It’s said to be “impossible” to get in. Forest Lawn also reportedly prohibits commercial photography.

The After-Party

The Jackson family rented out L.A. restaurant Villa Sorriso and Bar Celona for dinner after the burial.

The event is entirely by invitation only, and all access will be closed to the public.

The Cost

The cost of police services — which includes air support and other security — is reportedly $150,000. Michael’s estate is paying for the services.

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