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Entertainment behind the scenes

Motown boss cites Michael Jackson’s “questionable decisions” at memorial


As Michael Jackson’s coffin was wheeled in to the Staples Center about 10:30 a.m. by his brothers wearing matching suits and sequined gloves, the Andrae Crouch Choir set the scene with the gospel tune “Soon and Very Soon.”jackoberAfter introductory remarks by family friend, the Rev. Lucious Smith, who said, “He is never really gone at all,” Mariah Carey took the stage to sing the Jackson 5 hit “I’ll Be There” with help from Trey Lorenz.10:50 a.m.: Lionel Richie performs the Commodores tune “Jesus is Love.”10:54 a.m.: Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. delivers a light-hearted nostalgic speech, saying Jackson was “like a son to me.” He says Jackson made some “questionable decisions” but “accomplished everything he dreamed of.”11:03 a.m.: A video montagejackostev11:07 a.m.: Stevie Wonder is escorted to the piano. “This is a moment that I wished that I didn’t live to see come … but God must have needed him much more.” He performs “I Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” and “They Won’t Go When I Go.”11:15 a.m. Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson speak. The latter notably omits Jackson’s father, Joe, in referring to the wonderful family that will embrace Jackson’s three children.11:21: Jennifer Hudson performs “Will You Be There” with audio footage from Jackson.11:25: The Rev. Al Sharpton credits Jackson for eradicating racial barriers, drawing attention to world hunger and for the election of President Barack Obama. “Wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy,” he said in remarks directed to his children. “It was strange what your daddy had to deal with … but he dealt with it anyway.”jackomayer11:33 a.m.: Guitarist John Mayer, the only white performer to date and who also shares a publicist with the Jackson family, performs an instrumental version of “Human Nature.”11:39 a.m.: A tearful Brooke Shields says “we were two little kids having fun,” as she recounts their youthful pranks. “He was often referred to as the king, but the Michael that I knew always reminded me more of ‘The Little Prince,’” and she quoted a passage from the Antoine De Saint-Exupery children’s classic.11:48 a.m.: Jermaine Jackson sings what Shields says was his brother’s favorite song, “Smile,” from the Charlie Chaplin film “Modern Times.”11:52 a.m.: Martin Luther King III and Bernice King, children of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., take the stage. Bernice says that even while Jackson was being dogged by “persecutions and accusations” he took the time to call their ailing mother, Coretta, in October 2005. “My only wish is that he could have seen the glow on her face.”11:59 a.m.: Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee recounts the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. “I call Michael Jackson the Good Samaritan. I call him Michael Jackson who cared and loved for the world.”jackoush12:07 p.m.: Usher performs Jackson’s “Gone Too Soon,” stares at the coffin, breaks down and removes his ever-present sunglasses. He is quickly hugged by the Jackson family.12:12 p.m.: Video footage of the Jackson 5 singing “Who’s Loving You.”12:13 p.m. Smokey Robinson: “I wrote that song!” He looks at the coffin. “He’s my little brother over there.”12: 18 p.m.: Shaheen Jafargholi, a finalist on Britain’s Got Talent, sings “Who’s Loving You.”12:22 p.m.: Jackson choreographer Kenny Ortega explains Jafargholi’s presence: He would have performed with Jackson during the planned comeback shows in London.12:24 p.m.: Shades of Live Aid ’85 in Philadelphia. An all-star version of ”We are the World,” with the speakers, performers and the Jackson family taking to the stage. LaToya Jackson — her face is concealed under a massive LaBelle-style hat — clutches her brother’s children. One of them is chewing gum.12:29 p.m.: “Heal the World” follows. Gordy clenches his right fist. The Rev. Jesse Jackson is in a trance-like state.12:34 p.m.: Jermaine Jackson thanks everyone for coming out, says he is lost for words. Marlon Jackson recalls the days they used to watch The Three Stooges. “We will never understand what he endured … Being judged, ridiculed. How much pain can one take? Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone.”jackopar112:40 p.m.: In what may be the first time the public has heard her speak. Paris, 11, tearfully says: “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine, and I just want to say I love him so much.” She immediately was embraced by Janet Jackson, sporting a black beret.12:42 p.m. The coffin is carried out.12:49 p.m.: The worldwide TV feed ends with a reminder that concert promoter AEG Live owns the copyright to the broadcast.

Jennifer Hudson sings of love in “Idol” return


jennifer-hudsonA lot has happened to Jennifer Hudson since she last took the stage on “American Idol.” In her highly anticipated return to the show on Wednesday night’s broadcast, Hudson sang “If This Isn’t Love” from her Grammy-winning 2008 debut album.

If the performance was not as poignant as her power ballad “You Pulled Me Through” during the Grammy Awards on Feb. 8, it was a moment to be savored for a singer who has experienced life’s highs and lows since she finished a disappointing seventh in 2004. Ironically, when producers this season introduced a rule allowing them to save one contestant from elimination, Simon Cowell mentioned Hudson’s early exit as a justification for giving him and his fellow judges veto power over America’s votes. And on the same night that viewers saw Hudson’s performance, they saw the judges use their save power to rescue Matt Giraud.

Jennifer Hudson to return to “American Idol”


Singer Jennifer Hudson will return to “American Idol” on Wednesday night to tape a performance for broadcast later, a source in her management office said. jennifer-hudson

Hudson first gained fame on “Idol” in 2004, when she finished a disappointing seventh in the competition. The 27-year-old singer went on to have a more illustrious career than some of the show’s champions, winning a supporting actress Oscar for her role in the 2006 movie “Dreamgirls” and this year winning a best R&B album Grammy for her self-titled 2008 release.

With Norman Gentle, will comedy upend singing on “Idol”?


gentleIt was a pretty humdrum night on “American Idol” until Norman Gentle took the stage.

Until this season, every contestant to make it this far on the ultimate talent show has been unfailingly serious about their quest for fame (though, admittedly, the seriousness of Sanjaya Malakar’s 2007 turn is open to debate). They may tug at viewers’ heartstrings by saying they only want fame for the sake of family members who depend on them, and they may smile and joke, but none of them make a joke of the often humiliating process of laying it all out there on the “Idol” stage.

Critics rate Grammy Awards a so-so show


The Grammy Awards on Sunday failed to elicit a chorus of praise from the critics, whrobin-thicke-lil-wayneo tended to agree that the show was all over the musical map.

Brian McCollum, pop music critic for the Detroit Free Press,  called the show “one of the most sizzle-free Grammy events in recent memory, marked by tepid live performances, unmemorable acceptance speeches and low-key presenters with dud jokes.”

Grammy weekend kicks off with Neil Diamond tribute


neil3Coldplay, Foo Fighters and Jennifer Hudson were among the pop stars paying tribute to Neil Diamond Friday night in Los Angeles to kick off Grammy weekend charity event, MusicCares Person of the Year.

The celebrity-studded gathering of 2,200 people at the L.A. Convention Center honored Diamond, 68, for his philanthropy, including large donations to relief efforts for Texas areas ravaged by Hurricane Ike.

Dreamgirl Jennifer Hudson set to sing


USA-POLITICS/(Writing and reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)

Singer Jennifer Hudson is set to perform for the first time since the October shooting deaths of her mother, brother and nephew in Chicago.

Hudson is scheduled to sing on Feb. 6 at the 2009 MusiCares Person of the Year show in Los Angeles, an event leading up to the 51st annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 8.The event is to honor Grammy-winning singer Neil Diamond.