Whitney Houston’s funeral may be invitation-only when it comes to getting a seat in the church, but the world has been invited to watch it online and perhaps on TV.
Though there will be no large public memorial like the one held for Michael Jackson, the Saturday funeral at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., Houston’s childhood church, is expected to be made available for television and Web streaming, Houston’s publicist told CNN Wednesday.
The “I Will Always Love You” singer’s body arrived in New Jersey late Monday after her death Saturday at age 48 in Beverly Hills, and her autopsy Sunday. Houston’s death certificate indicates she will be buried at Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J., where her father was interred.
Reflecting Houston’s gospel roots, the service will include a eulogy from gospel singer and Pastor Marvin L. Winans, and will have BeBe and CeCe Winans, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Chaka Khan, Diane Warren, cousin Dionne Warwick, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, and Ray J and his sister Brandy in attendance, according to CNN.
(The church reportedly seats up to 2,000 people; for context, the Cathedral of our Lady of Angels in downtown Los Angeles seats around 3,000, and seating capacity at Westminster Abbey currently runs around 2,000.)
Whether ex-husband Bobby Brown, who some blame for Houston’s slide into addiction, will attend the funeral is a matter of some debate. Fox News reported Thursday that he would be performing with New Edition in Connecticut on Saturday night. Brown flew to L.A. on Sunday and reportedly tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with daughter Bobbi Kristina, according to TMZ, but ABC News talked to sources close to Brown on Wednesday who said that reports of tension between Brown and the Houston family were inaccurate.
“My daughter Bobbi Kristina is doing much better,” Brown said via email to ABCNews.com Tuesday. “We continue to provide love and support to Bobbi Kristina. She is dealing with the tragedy of her mother’s death and would prefer to do it outside of the public eye. I ask again that our privacy be respected.”
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles as part of the coroner’s death investigation, authorities were sending out subpoenas to gather information on what drugs Houston had been prescribed, by whom and in what quantities, according to the Los Angeles Times’ blog L.A. Now.
Authorities collected several bottles of drugs from Houston’s suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, but officials told L.A. Now that the amounts of drugs did not seem unusually large. Officials are waiting for the results of toxicology tests before determining an official cause of death, and have not ruled out death by natural causes.