A Newark funeral home braces for the last rites of Whitney Houston, the media event of its career
The city of Newark, N.J. is swarming with reporters and camera crews now that the body of Whitney Houston has been transported there from Los Angeles, where Houston died of as-yet unknown causes Saturday afternoon.
Many more are expected to descend on Newark by Saturday, when the late pop icon's invitation-only funeral is scheduled to begin around noon at New Hope Baptist Church.
The funeral parlor handling the arrangements is already bracing for the scrum.
Carolyn Whigham, the owner of Whigham Funeral Home, told Capital there will be a designated area for press to set up outside the church.
"It will be close to the vicinity where the services are to be held, but I don't know exactly where," she said in a brief phone interview this afternoon.
Whigham also confirmed an MSNBC report that a single "pool camera" will be permitted to tape the service, which Houston's family, to the dismay of fans, decided should be private.
"It will be streamed outside to you all, as well as through TV and the computer," she said.
Houston's publicist, according to Whigham, has already designated who the task of filming will fall to. But Whigham did not know who had been chosen or how the decision was made. She also did not know whether any non-television press would be permitted inside to cover the affair.
UPDATE: The Associated Press has been selected as the pool camera operator. It will stream the service on livestream.com/aplive, according to a press release.
An email to the firm of Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, was not immediately returned. But one would assume she'd grant the privilege of covering the event first-hand to one or two journaists with whom she has the best rapport.
That's how The Associated Press ended up breaking the news of Houston's death on Saturday in the first place. For a crucial window before the rest of the media had piled on to the story, the wire was the first and only outlet to have a published report containing an official confirmation.
"Our music editor, Nekesa Mumbi Moody, was contacted by Whitney Houston's rep about the death after many years of building a relationship with Ms. Houston and her team," said Lou Ferrara, the A.P.'s managing editor for sports, entertainment and multimedia, through a spokesperson. "There was a desire to have it accurately distributed by the AP, which was one of two outlets that Ms. Houston did interviews with when she promoted her last album."
Meanwhile, Whigham is utterly swamped with preparations, though that didn't stop her from answering the phone after just two rings.
She said she'd received more 5,000 calls about the funeral.
"Today!" she said, letting out a slight chuckle.
Indeed, much of her time these past few days has been spent dealing with reporters and press inquiries, which is evident by the amount she has been quoted in news reports.
At the time of our chat, there were about 25 camera crews parked outside her business, she said: "I wish you were here to help!"