Pop Star Jackson Fires His Manager

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Michael Jackson has stunned the record industry again.

In the second dramatic pop music superstar management shake-up of the year, Jackson has dismissed Frank Dileo, his colorful manager, spokesman and confidant. The move comes just a month after Jackson’s pop rival, Prince, severed his ties with his longtime management team.

Jackson’s personal publicist, Lee Solters, issued a terse statement Tuesday saying: “Michael Jackson and Frank Dileo have announced an amicable parting. Jackson said, ‘I thank Frank for his contribution on my behalf during the past several years.’ ”

Dileo, who had been Jackson’s manager for the last five years, was at Duke University at a weight-reduction center and unavailable for comment. Jackson and his attorney, John Branca, refused to comment.


However, industry insiders were surprised by the unexpected move, which came just weeks after Dileo announced that Jackson’s Jan. 27 Sports Arena date would be his farewell to concert touring.

While the Jackson camp termed the parting “amicable,” industry observers speculated that Dileo’s sudden departure signaled a falling out between the portly, cigar-smoking manager and his eccentric superstar.

As recently as three weeks ago, Dileo told The Times: “Michael and I go out together a lot at night. We go to record and clothing stores on Ventura Boulevard, goofing around. We ride around looking at the sights. We have a ball.” Dileo added that he had even prepared a guest room for Jackson in his new Ojai home “because he spends a lot of time at my house.”

So why the sudden departure? “It may sound a little harsh, but Frank’s usefulness to Michael was probably over,” said a key industry player who insisted on anonymity. “If Michael is giving up concerts and aiming more for movies, Frank was no longer so necessary. Dileo is a great record man, but movies aren’t his area of expertise.”

A former Jackson associate added: “I think Michael became a little disenchanted when it became obvious that ‘Bad’ wasn’t going to outsell ‘Thriller,’ or even become the No. 2 album of all time. There’s also been a lot of infighting between different factions in Michael’s camp during the past year--and Frank obviously lost.

“It didn’t help that Frank had such a high media profile. He may have taken one too many bows.”