Pop icon Michael Jackson died Thursday, not long after being rushed to UCLA Medical Center after paramedics discovered him unconscious at his home in Bel Air, Calif.
Paramedics responded to a 911 call at Jackson’s home around 12:26 p.m., the Los Angeles Times reports. Jackson was not breathing when they arrived. The paramedics performed CPR on Jackson before taking him to the hospital.
It was the website of a syndicated newsmagazine, TMZ.com, which first reported the news of his hospitalization, saying that Jackson had suffered cardiac arrest. It also broke word of his death.
Other newsmagzines also rushed to cover the tragic news.
“Entertainment Tonight” broadcast what it said was the last known picture of Jackson alive. It was a picture of Jackson in an ambulance, with tubes on his face. A spokeswoman for the newsmagazine said that the show’s website, which also posted the picture, has seen more than 1.5 million unique visits this afternoon.
Rival “Access Hollywood” quickly remade much of its west coast feed to include news about Jackson, broadcasting several segments on his death. The magazine showed footage of host Billy Bush in Ireland, where Jackson was recording an album several years ago.
Meanwhile, the networks are preparing to pay tribute to Jackson with specials on his life. ABC News — which had scored several exclusive interviews with Jackson during his career– has already scheduled a primetime special about Jackson’s life for this evening at 9 p.m.
NBC has also expanded tonight’s previously announced Farrah Fawcett special to two hours and will now devoted 9-11 p.m. to retrospectives on both pop icons.
CBS has also decided to air a primetime special on Jackson at 10 p.m. this evening. The hour may also include coverage of Fawcett’s passing.
Interestingly, MTV— which became an institution in part due to Michael Jackson—didn’t seem particularly interested in the passing of the icon. As of 5 p.m. West Coast time, the network was sticking with regular programs such as “Is She Really Going Out with Him.”
MTV, which once boasted a news department whose slogan was “You Hear It First,” distinguished itself with coverage of the passing of Kurt Cobain.
Variety reported that MTV was planning to air a Michael Jackson special at some point tonight.
Also avoiding saturation coverage: Viacom-owned cable networks BET and VH1. At 6 p.m. Los Angeles time, BET was airing current music videos. VH1, ironically, was airing a previously scheduled retrospective of great moments in black pop culture history; Jackson was featured several times.
Not all cable networks dropped the ball: E! Entertainment Television moved quickly to cover the story.
Anchor Ryan Seacrest rushed to the E! studios in Los Angeles even before Jackson was officially pronounced dead, according to a post on Seacrest’s Twitter feed. The network aired previous documentaries on Jackson, along with new reports.
Fox is planning to honor Jackson by repeating an episode of "American Idol" devoted to his music, website Reality Blurred said.
As for reaction to Jackson’s passing, Debbie Rowe, Jackson’s ex-wife, said through her lawyer she was "inconsolable," the New York Daily News reports.
Mark Lester, godfather of Jackson’s two older children, said he was “absolutely devastated” by the news, while musical mogul Quincy Jones said, “I lost my little brother today and part of my soul went with him.”
"I was lucky enough to know and work with Michael Jackson in his prime," John Landis, the director of Jackson’s famous "Thriller" video, said in a statement, the New Jersey Star Ledger reports. "He had a troubled and complicated life and despite his gifts, remains a tragic figure. My wife Deborah and I will always have great affection for him."
Jackson’s spokesperson denied reports last month that Jackson had cancer, the New York Daily News notes. The pop icon was readying for 50 sold-out concerts in London this summer.
The New York Times is keeping track of reports and remembrances here.
Some notable Jackson TV moments below:
Michael Jackson performs "Billie Jean" on "Motown 25 Live" (1983).
The VH1 special “Michael Jackson’s Greatest TV Moments.” View all the parts here.
Michael Jackson and Britney Spears perform “The Way You Make Me Feel” together at the "Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration" in 2001.