FRANKLY SPEAKING An exclusive HITS interview with Frank DiLeo
Industry vet Frank DiLeo, who was the manager of Michael Jackson from 1984 through 1989, returned to the fold to help guide the superstar through his “This Is It” concerts and presumably beyond, but it was not to be. Here, the industry veteran shares his thoughts with HITS’ own ambulance-chasing Roy Trakin.
Q. This is like Godfather III… Just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in. How did you get involved with Michael again?
Michael first called me a couple of years ago, after he came back from Bahrain, then was in Ireland and Vegas for a while. We chitchatted, he called again and we started communicating about film projects. There were a couple of scripts we wanted to develop and produce. Then he got involved in this concert deal.
He called me in March and said, “Frank, I need someone with a little bit of experience. Would you like to manage me again and take care of all this stuff?” And I said, “Yeah, sure.” By the time I came in, everything was signed. Dr. Thome Thome—who is someone I don’t want to talk about in this interview—had miscalculated the scheduling on the dates, which is something I had to take care of, because Michael didn’t want to perform more than twice a week.
Q. Was Michael aware that he was signing for up to 50 individual shows?
Absolutely. I read the contract. I know what the minimum amount of dates were, as well as the maximum number of dates. That contract was read to Michael by three different lawyers, as well as Dr. Thome. He wanted to beat Prince’s record and be in the Guinness Book of World Records. He was the one who picked the number 50. There were enough ticket sales to do 85 shows, but he was zeroed in on 50. That’s what he wanted and that’s what happened. Dr. Thome had him doing three or four shows a week, though. I was adjusting and moving dates to try to make it more palatable for Michael to do.