EPA/ANDREW GOMBERT POOL
The stakes have gone up along with the price tag.
The Los Angeles City Council is still gunning for Anschutz Entertainment Group to reimburse it for the star-studded memorial service for Michael Jackson that took place at AEG-owned Staples Center in July, and the Public Safety Committee will review the issue at a meeting next week.
While AEG and the Jackson family hosted the actual service, some guys with calculators have determined that the city spent $3.2 million to help pull it off, mainly in the form of security and increased police presence around the venue and locations where the Jackson family congregated in the days following the King of Pop's death on June 25.
The cost was originally estimated at $1.4 million.
"The bottom line is the city attorney's very committed to recouping the taxpayer's dollars," spokesman John Franklin said. "During these tough economic times right now, that's big money. We're laying off, people are getting furloughed...It's still money that we put out for a memorial service for Michael Jackson."
No matter that auditors have also figured that the proceedings, a subject of international fascination at the time, brought in about $4 million in revenue to the city in the form of hotel stays, restaurant tabs, transportation and other business transactions.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa once called the idea of the city soliciting money from the Jacksons or private donors "nonsensical," calling his a "world-class city" where fire and police protection come with the territory.
But he didn't say anything about AEG helping to ease the financial strain on the city's cavernous coffers, which would be required under an ordinance the City Council passed in October about organizers reimbursing the city for such an event.
Of course, the memorial took place in July, before said ordinance was in place. Hence the review meeting that will take place sometime next week.
At least the Jacksons don't have to take part in this conversation. They already racked up a $1 million bill for Michael's funeral and interment services at Forest Lawn.
Recall what all this fuss was about in our Mourning Michael Jackson gallery.