Seventy days after his sudden death, Michael Jackson will be interred in what may or may not be his final resting place Thursday evening.
Only his family and closest friends will attend the private funeral inside the ornate Great Mausoleum on the grounds of Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, California.
The news media, which has closely covered every aspect of Jackson’s death, will be kept at a distance, with cameras no closer than the cemetery’s main gate.
Little is known about the planned ceremony, though CNN has confirmed that singer Gladys Knight, a longtime friend to Jackson, will perform. Her song has not been disclosed.
The massive mausoleum, which is normally open to tourists, was closed Wednesday as preparations were completed for the funeral. A security guard blocking its entrance said it would reopen to the public on Friday.
Fans of Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and dozens of other celebrities buried on the grounds have flocked to Forest Lawn-Glendale for decades, but Jackson may outdraw them all.
It is unclear how close tourists will be allowed to Jackson’s resting place. Security guards — aided by cameras — keep a constant vigil over the graves and crypts, which are surrounded by a world-class collection of art and architecture.
The Forest Lawn Web site boasts that the mausoleum, which draws its architectural inspiration from the Campo Santo in Italy, “has been called the “New World’s Westminster Abbey” by Time Magazine.