In the two days following Whitney Houston's death last Saturday, there was talk about holding her funeral service in a public arena near her hometown.
Her family quieted that talk, by announcing Tuesday her last rites would be held at the church in Newark, New Jersey, where many people first heard her singing voice when she was a child. And, it would be private.
Presumably, unless there's a change of plans, that means friends and family only (although this church reportedly holds about 2,000 people). And no live, or recorded, coverage on television or any other electronic media.
It also means it will not be a repeat, even on a smaller scale, of Michael Jackson's funeral nearly two and a half years ago. That was held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the same arena where the Lakers play basketball.
The statement the family issued was that, they had shared Houston with the public for nearly 30 years, and that it wanted her memorial to be limited to family and close friends.
About the former comment, at least in this country, after a person becomes a "celebrity", his or her life-for better or for worse-becomes public. It is difficult to keep anyone like that out of the public eye, no matter how much that's tried.
On the other hand, I think I understand what the Houston family has in mind. While the ceremony may have been relatively dignified, the aforementioned Michael Jackson funeral was a spectacle at times, especially in the days before it happened.
To allow as many fans and admirers access as possible, tickets were distributed to the event. I still remember TV news shots of people "celebrating" getting admission to the funeral, screaming and waving tickets as if they had just won a car on The Price Is Right. And eventually, the decision was made to allow it to be shown live on TV, which all the major broadcast networks and several cable channels did. This means that the final memorial of a pop superstar (albeit a legendary one) got the kind of coverage as the death of a world leader. That didn't even happen with Elvis Presley.
My point: Whitney Houston's family, while it may understand the appeal she had for millions of fans, would like to keep her funeral as much a family funeral as possible...and less of a spectacle.
We'll see if they get their wish.
Speaking of Whitney Houston:
A caller this week asked me if we knew that her biggest single hit song, "I Will Always Love You", was originally recorded, and written, by Dolly Parton, and was the media going to mention that fact?
Regarding the former question, we certainly do...or at least I do.
And as to the latter question...