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PEOPLE WATCH

<i> Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press</i>

Michael Jackson Says ‘Beat It’ to Chief Adviser: Michael Jackson has reportedly severed ties with John Branca, the Los Angeles attorney who is believed to have been his closest adviser over the past decade, a source to the singer said Tuesday. Branca, a member of the firm of Ziffren, Brittenham & Branca, had been a key member of the Jackson brain trust through the star’s record-setting “Thriller” and “Bad” albums and during the reigns of first the management team of Ron Weisner and Freddy DeMann and later Frank Dileo, who represented Jackson from 1984 to 1989. The source, who asked to not be identified, refused to comment on reports that Jackson’s legal affairs would go to the Los Angeles firm of Mannatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Phillips. A partner in the firm, Lee Phillips, was unavailable for comment, as was Branca.


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