Though it was speculated that none of the Jacksons would appear at the event, in attendance were all of Michael's brothers – who received a standing ovation inside the theater before the film began. None of Michael's sisters nor mother Katherine Jackson or father Joe Jackson (who actually attended the premiere in Las Vegas) were present.
"We had to be here to support my brother's work," Jermaine told PEOPLE. "They say this is it, but this is just the beginning."
Added brother Jackie: "It's a sad moment, but we have to support our family."
Also absent were Michael's three children, Prince, Paris and Blanket, who, Jackie said, "are wonderful. They will see a private screening of the film later."
Speaking to PEOPLE from the Las Vegas premiere, patriarch Joe Jackson said: "They are healthy, they exercise, they practice martial arts. They are fine."
Rushing to embrace Jermaine on the red carpet, Paula Abdul declared, "Tonight is a celebration. I learned so much from working with Michael and his brothers. I have nothing but love and support."
Enthusiastic ReceptionOther stars like Julianne Hough, Vivica Fox, and Macy Gray and Martin Lawrence, weren't as physical, but were equally enthusiastic.
"I've known Michael since I was four," Hilton said. "He was very special friend. I love him. I'm here to support the legend."
There was intimate rehearsal footage of Michael in sparkling gold pants while displaying his signature dance moves and desire for perfection in the calculated notes of Smooth Criminal, Human Nature and Thriller. To that last song, he added a new frightening spin on the classic theatrics that had guests like Anne Heche, with son Homer, "stunned," she said.
"We want to take them places they've never been before," Michael said to his crew during a segment in the film.
"It was beautiful and touching," Joey McIntyre said after the screening. "It's great that we have proof that he didn't want to go away and that he wanted to prove to the world that he was still the king of pop."
"It's tough to watch your brother's last performance," Jermaine Jackson said.
Additional reporting by JUDY STONE