Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Saturday, 4 July 2009 14:28 UK

Fans scramble for Jackson tickets

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AEG Live President Tim Leiweke: "Please do not come down here for tickets"

More than half a million Michael Jackson fans have already applied for 17,500 free tickets to the singer's public memorial service next week.

Jackson, who died last week aged 50, will be remembered at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Tickets will be chosen at random from names registered at staplescenter.com.

Police in Los Angeles expect as many as 700,000 people may try to reach the arena but it will be sealed off to those without tickets.

As of 1730 on Friday (0030 GMT Saturday), more than 524,330 people had registered for tickets, Jackson family spokesman Ken Sunshine said in a statement.

A total of 11,000 free tickets are to be issued for the service. Fans from around the world can apply.

If you do not have a ticket... not only will you not be allowed at these venues, you will not be allowed in this area
LA assistant police chief Earl Paysinger

Another 6,500 tickets will be issued for a simulcast of the service at the nearby Nokia theatre. It means a total of 17,500 fans will be able to see the events free.

Officials said 8,750 pairs of tickets would be allotted to the successful entrants after 1800 Saturday (0100 GMT Sunday) and notifications would go out later on Sunday.

Those selected will be able to get their tickets via Ticketmaster on Monday, officials said.

Originally, the Staples Center website said only US residents could apply for tickets, but AEG's Randy Phillips later told the BBC that that was not the case.

Officials appealed to other fans to watch the memorial service from their own homes, amid fears that thousands of people without tickets could flood the area.

"If you do not have a ticket, if you are not credentialed, not only will you not be allowed at these venues, you will not be allowed in this area," said Los Angeles assistant police chief Earl Paysinger.

Big screens

Jackson had been rehearsing for his London concerts at the Staples Center.

In a press conference, family representative Ken Sunshine said they wanted to accommodate as many fans as possible.

"It is all about the fans," he said.

Officials said that no funeral procession would take place and the memorial service would not be shown on big screens outside the venues. Free pool feeds will be made available to media organisations for broadcast, they said.

Earlier, a lawyer for Michael Jackson's former wife Debbie Rowe said she was undecided about whether to fight for custody of her two children with the star.

Fan outside Staples Center 3.7.09
The Staples Center was where Michael Jackson's rehearsals were held

On Thursday, Ms Rowe won a delay in a custody hearing while she decides if she wants to raise Michael Joseph Jackson Jr, known as Prince Michael, 12, and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11.

The singer's youngest son - seven-year-old Prince Michael II - was born to a surrogate mother whose identity has never been revealed.

In his will, Jackson stipulated that his mother, Katherine, 79, should have permanent custody of all three children. She currently has temporary custody of them.

A judge has delayed a guardianship hearing - scheduled for Monday - until 13 July at the request of Ms Rowe and Katherine Jackson.

Mystery death

It is still not known what caused Jackson's death last week at the age of 50.

He collapsed at his home and was pronounced dead two hours later at the UCLA medical centre.

An autopsy was conducted but results are not expected for several weeks. The Jackson family had a second autopsy performed and those results are also pending.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's office has said there is no evidence of foul play.

It added that the results of toxicology tests could take weeks to come back.



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