September 3, 2009 / 9:05 PM / 9 years ago

Tight security set for Michael Jackson's burial

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson finally will be buried near Los Angeles on Thursday evening, 70 days after his death, and authorities are going to great lengths to ensure he will rest in peace.

People gather around the star of the late Michael Jackson on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California September 2, 2009. Jackson, who died aged 50 on June 25, 2009, will be buried on Thursday. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The historic cemetery at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the city of Glendale, where the pop star will be laid to rest, has been closed to all but members of the Jackson family and friends attending the 7 p.m. PDT (0200 GMT Friday) funeral.

Surrounding streets and even the air space over the area also have been restricted.

Police helicopters with infra-red technology started buzzing the 290-acre (117-hectare) cemetery on Wednesday night to make sure no one slipped in. Police dogs, plainclothes officers and private security guards are patrolling the area.

The Jackson estate was to reimburse the Glendale Police Department for its expenses, which the agency has estimated will be up to $150,000.

By contrast, the city of Los Angeles has absorbed the estimated $1.4 million cost of Jackson’s televised memorial service in July.

Police in Glendale, a city of 200,000 in the shadow of a giant wildfire sweeping nearby mountains, have advised fans to stay home and watch the proceedings on television.

But the programing is unlikely to be scintillating. News media will be corralled in a park down the road, and will have to strain for a glimpse of the limousines speeding past.

No one is saying what will take place at the service in the cemetery’s Great Mausoleum. One detail to emerge, courtesy of celebrity website TMZ, is that fellow Motown veteran Gladys Knight will sing.

Jackson will be in stellar company at Forest Lawn, a stately park dotted with elaborate mausoleums and rolling lawns. Celebrities buried there include Walt Disney, singers Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Jr. and Nat “King” Cole, and Hollywood icons Humphrey Bogart, Errol Flynn, Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable.

Jackson died of a drug overdose on June 25, at age 50, in what the Los Angeles County Coroner ruled last week was a homicide.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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