Jackson's family members and dozens of friends, led by his parents, Joe and Katherine, were seen entering a building at the cemetery. News reports estimated as many as 20 helicopters circled overhead.
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Police said that after the private ceremony, Jackson's body would be taken to the singer's public memorial at the Staples Center, which was to be televised live around the world.
Among the celebrities expected to attend the memorial were Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Usher, Lionel Richie, Kobe Bryant, Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer and Martin Luther King III.