Katie Couric is anchoring not one but two nights of “The CBS Evening News” and a special edition of “48 Hours” from Staples Center this week. Charlie Gibson is heading to Los Angeles on Tuesday. So is Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren and a host of her cable news colleagues at CNN and MSNBC.
Top TV newsies spent the holiday weekend prepping for blanket coverage of Tuesday’s memorial service for Michael Jackson, which will bring a worldwide media circus to L.A.’s Staples Center.
(Jackson will reportedly be buried in a private family funeral at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills.)
In truth, media coverage of Jackson has barely abated in the week and a half since the pop superstar died June 25 at age 50, only weeks before he was skedded to begin a series of comeback concerts.
ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, E! Entertainment and TV Guide Network plan to carry the event live at 10 a.m. PT on Tuesday. Internet vid giant Hulu was trying to work out a way for it to webcast a feed from one of its parent companies, NBC Universal and News Corp. The memorial is also set to be webcast via the StaplesCenter.com website.
ABC and NBC will preempt regularly skedded daytime programming for live coverage. NBC News said Monday that Brian Williams will anchor the Peacock’s coverage.
CBS News will broadcast “The Early Show” live from Staples today and Tuesday. Couric will also anchor “Evening News” from Staples tonight and Tuesday, and she’ll host a special seg of “48 Hours” at 10 p.m. on Tuesday from Staples.
Cable news is expected to be wall-to-wall Jackson for the next 48 hours. Fox News, for one, will begin its coverage at 9 a.m. PT with Shepard Smith anchoring out of New York. Van Susteren will be on scene for live shots during the memorial and will host her nightly yakker “On the Record” from L.A. on Tuesday. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly will anchor coverage for the Fox broadcast net.
CNN, which posted a big ratings bounce in the initial few days of the Jackson shocker, will carry the service on the mothership net and HLN, as well as on CNN Intl. and CNN en Espanol. Anderson Cooper, Larry King and Don Lemon are set as anchors for CNN.
MSNBC seemed to be playing it a little bit more low-key than its competitors, with Chris Jansing set as anchor.
Ratings could be through the roof for the event if the level of fan interest in obtaining tickets to the memorial is any guide. More than 1.6 million people registered on Friday and Saturday via StaplesCenter.com for a random drawing of names to distribute 17,500 free tickets to the service.
During the first hour of the registration period on Friday morning, the website was deluged with more than 500 million hits, the Los Angeles Times reported.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)