After an introduction from Lionel Richie, television viewers and the Staples Center audience were instructed to put on 3-D glasses and view footage for a film originally produced for Jackson's comeback concerts. The film showed a little girl in an ecological paradise that is destroyed by bulldozers.
Some in the star-studded crowd applauded politely, while others cheered with urgent enthusiasm. Beyoncé could barely stay in her seat, and filmmaker Quentin Tarantino vibrantly bobbed his head. Beyoncé's husband, Jay-Z, did not wear the 3-D glasses.
However, everyone seemed captivated by two of Jackson's children, Prince Michael and Paris, when they appeared on stage to accept their late father's lifetime achievement award. It was one of the first public glimpses of Jackson's children since their emotional appearance at his televised memorial service last year.
Prince Michael said his father's songs had a simple message -- love -- "and we will continue to spread that message." Paris said her father had planned to perform at this year's Grammys. Both children ended their short speeches with "I love you, Daddy."
Times staff writer Geoff Boucher contributed to this report.