NEWARK, NJ (CBSNewYork) — Ahead of the star-studded Saturday funeral for singer Whitney Houston, Newark police officials are urging the public to stay away.
Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio said those not on the guest list for the funeral shouldn’t even bother showing up to the New Hope Baptist Church. DeMaio said you might as well just stay home and watch the service online.
“There’s not going to be anyone allowed within the inner perimeter that’s going to be set up around the church, other than people that are invited,” he said.
That guest list will reportedly include Elton John, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Mariah Carey, Denzel Washington, Jay-Z, Beyonce and Brandy. The legendary Stevie Wonder, along with Houston’s godmother, Aretha Franklin, and Jennifer Hudson will be singing solos, CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported.
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DeMaio said fans won’t even be able to get close enough to see anything. There won’t be a procession, and DeMaio said the late singer’s body will be quietly brought in at an undisclosed time.
On Thursday night, fans were leaving their condolences outside the Whigham Funeral Home. A private, family-only wake will be held on Friday from noon until 8 p.m.
“There won’t be anything to see here at the New Hope Baptist Church,” he said.
Family friend and gospel singer Rev. Marvin Winans will deliver the eulogy.
“She wore fame and she was wonderful in it, but she was always that little girl from New Jersey,” said Winans.
Despite the dazzling list of guests, Pastor Joe A. Carter said the will be a service similar to the ones Houston knew as a child when she sang with the choir — lively and full of praise and warmth.
As family, friends and fans grieve across the country, the investigation into Houston’s untimely death at the Beverly Hilton continues.
Houston’s death certificate shows the cause of death as “deferred.” Her doctors have been subpoenaed for her medical and pharmacy records, a move considered routine. At this point, authorities won’t confirm or deny whether illegal drugs are part of that investigation.
However, citing a source, CNN reported on Thursday that Houston was partying at the bar of the Beverly Hilton on Friday night and that investigators have requested the surveillance tapes. Another source told the cable channel that the singer was drinking “considerable” quantities of alcohol in the days before her death.
The Grammy winner was also reportedly spotted drinking by the pool the morning of her death. In the latest issue of People Magazine, Houston is also described as exhibiting erratic behavior at the Beverly Hilton on the morning of Feb. 8.
“She was in a gift shop at the hotel she was staying at, and where her body was found, and she was talking to people and her speech was slurred and she seemed like she was out of it,” said People’s Carlos Greer.
Meanwhile, Gov. Chris Christie defended his decision to lower flags, saying that the honor should be reserved for military heroes and not entertainers.
“I think she was a significant artistic figure in this state,” Christie said. “As a result, I believe she deserves the recognition of having the flags put at half staff.
“What disturbs me the most is the criticism I have seen publicly that somehow because she struggled with substance abuse during the course of her life that people think somehow that removes the accomplishments.”
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