This is only the MJ stuff. Click the link if you want to read the entire article.http://www.nashvillescene.com/Stories/Cove.../11/22/Hit_Man/
Frank Dileo was at his home in eastern Ohio, just outside of Pittsburgh, when he got the phone call that would have him blowing Joe Pesci’s Technicolor brains all over the big screen. It had been just two days earlier that he’d received another, far less heartening call. With the punch of a few buttons, he’d been sacked from the most coveted job in the music industry, a job he’d held for five years—that of Michael Jackson’s manager.
It was late winter 1989, and Dileo and Jackson had just finished the grueling 16-month-long Bad World Tour. The stress of moving the MJ circus—213 strong—every three days across four continents had caused Dileo to put on considerable weight. So he headed to Duke University’s medical center to trim down and regain his health. Good thing, too, because doctors discovered he’d developed diabetes. A week into his weight-loss regimen, he got the news that he’d been unceremoniously dumped by the King of Pop.
Dangerously overweight. Diabetic. Fired by Michael Jackson. Not what you would call an auspicious turn of events. But if you ever see Frank Dileo pick up the dice at a craps table, put all your chips on the pass line—because if history’s any indicator, he’ll roll a 7 or 11. Screw the law of averages. His hot streaks make the Harlem Globetrotters look like Charlie Brown with a football.
But that didn’t stop the vultures from circling the Duke campus once the Jackson news dropped. To escape the media frenzy, Dileo headed for the refuge of his Ohio home. The following day, Frank recalls, people were calling his house to see what happened. It didn’t sound like any big deal when his wife said, “Hey, Martin Scorsese’s on the phone.”
Three years earlier, Scorsese had directed Jackson’s “Bad” video. Offhandedly, he told Dileo, the video’s executive producer, that he looked like a character in the director’s next picture. Wiseguys, it was called, based on a true-crime book about a mobster who flipped on his cronies. Dileo wrote it off as banter. Now here the guy was, years later, calling out of the blue.
“I thought, OK, he probably wants to say, gee, sorry to hear what happened,” Dileo says. “So I say, ‘Hey Marty, how you doin’?’ He said, [impersonating Scorsese’s clenched delivery] ‘Hey, you remember three years ago, I talked to you about doing a movie?’ I said, ‘Yeah, the book Wiseguy.’ He said, ‘Well, I’m casting today. Will you still do it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. I thought you were calling because I got fired.’
“And he says, ‘Oh, did you get fired?’ He didn’t know.”
Still, Dileo’s hot streak at Epic can hardly be pinned exclusively on his use of indies. Every major label at the time had a sizable budget for independent promotion—whether or not it was a shady business, the playing field was level. Yet in a short time, Epic had risen from No. 14 to No. 2, in no small part because of the way Dileo handled a record that would become the greatest-selling album of all time. That wasn’t lost on the man whose name is emblazoned, in script, in the upper left corner of its cover.
In the wake of Michael Jackson’s free fall into scandal and talk-show punchlines, it’s easy to forget how he galvanized pop music almost exactly 25 years ago. When Jackson released Thriller in December 1982, in the heart of Frank Dileo’s Epic reign, it went on to sell more than 51 million copies. Though exact sales vary, these facts do not: The album was No. 1 on Billboard’s album chart for 37 weeks, it spawned seven Top 10 hits (tied for the record), and it helped bring Jackson an unprecedented eight statues at the 1984 Grammy Awards.
Jackson may look naive, but when it comes to business, he’s no chimp-cuddling moonbeam. In Hit Men, Walter Yetnikoff says of Jackson, “He has made observations to me about things like promotion which indicate he would be totally qualified to run a record label if he so desired.” Dannen himself describes Jackson as “an ambitious man with extensive knowledge of the record industry’s workings.”
In his 1988 autobiography Moon Walk, Jackson writes, “Frank was responsible for turning my dream for Thriller into a reality. His brilliant understanding of the recording industry proved invaluable. For instance, we released ‘Beat It’ as a single while ‘Billie Jean’ was still at No. 1. CBS screamed, ‘You’re crazy, this will kill “Billie Jean.” ’ But Frank told them not to worry, that both songs would be No. 1 and both would be in the Top 10 at the same time. They were.
Not to mention that Dileo convinced a recalcitrant Jackson to do the video for “Thriller,” a 14-minute film considered by some the best music video of all time. “Actually, he only wanted to do two videos—‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat It,’ ” Dileo says. “So while I was still working for Epic, [product manager] Larry Stessel asked me to fly out there and talk him into doing ‘Thriller,’ because he was pretty adamant that he wouldn’t do it.”
Jackson, who had been without a manager for eight months, asked Dileo to fill the position on a Monday in March 1984 at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Two days later, when Dileo accepted, the music industry was abuzz. One unnamed source in Dannen’s book says, “Everyone turned ****ing green when Frank pulled that one off.”
Out of the record-label frying pan, into the megastar-management fire. Dileo started managing Jackson three months before the start of the Victory Tour, which reunited all of the Jackson brothers.
“Believe me, that was work,” Dileo says. “Every brother had a lawyer and an accountant. We had to have white promoters and black promoters. It was quite a complicated fiasco. But I got Michael through it safely.” Among the three black promoters: Don King and the Rev. Al Sharpton. “That was before Rev. Al Sharpton owned a suit. He was still in sweats,” Dileo recalls.
Bill Bennett, head of Warner Nashville and a friend of Dileo’s since the late ’70s, has one particularly fond memory of the Victory Tour’s opening night. “We were in Kansas City,” Bennett says, “and I said, ‘Frank, I’m going to Arthur Bryant’s,’ which is one of the most famous homes of barbecue in the world. And Michael looked at me and said, ‘Oh no, Bill, Frank’s a vegetarian now.’ So Frank goes, ‘Yeah, Michael’s looking out for my health.’ As he walks me out the door, he gives me a key and says, ‘Meet me in this room when you get back, and bring some barbecue.’ ”
“Michael used to moderate everything I ate,” Dileo says. “It’s amazing—when I started with him I was 210; when I ended with him, I was 265. So that’s what eating healthy does to you.”
After the Victory Tour, Jackson spent the next two years working on Bad. It sold a mere 32 million albums globally. Though it had fewer Top 10 hits than Thriller, it outdid its predecessor—and every other album in history—in another statistic: five No. 1 singles. In September 1987, Jackson embarked on his first tour as a solo performer, the Bad World Tour, which Dileo produced. Though the hassles of dealing with the Jackson brothers’ handlers were absent, Dileo was in for the ride of his life—123 dates over 16-and-a-half months. It was the largest-grossing tour of all time, putting Michael in front of 4.4 million fans on four continents.
“It was a headache,” Dileo says—a grand understatement to be sure. “You were moving 213 people every three days. In London, we played Wembley Stadium seven times in a row, 72,000 people a night. And we could have probably played it 10 or 12 nights, but at the time they only had seven available.”
Of course, there was a lot more to managing Michael Jackson than producing world tours. “We did a lot of things, Michael and I,” Dileo says fondly. “I got to executive produce all the videos of the Bad album. I did Moonwalker. I got nominated for two Grammys: for ‘Smooth Criminal’ and ‘Leave Me Alone.’ And I won a Grammy for ‘Leave Me Alone’—as the producer of the video, not the record.”
Another managerial coup from Dileo’s Jackson stint was his negotiation for the Pepsi commercial. “I got [Pepsi CEO] Roger Enrico to pay me up front, which was never done before,” he says. “In fact, we cut the deal on the Pepsi jet. Once we agreed upon a price, I said to Roger, ‘OK, there’s just one more thing. You’ve got to pay it all up front.’ He says, ‘I don’t know.’ And I said, ‘Roger, did Elvis Presley ever do a commercial for Pepsi?’ He said no. I said, ‘Did The Beatles?’ He said no. I said, ‘What do you want to be—0 for 3?’ He shook his head and went into the men’s room and came back and said, ‘OK, you got a deal.’ ”
Dileo harbors no ill will toward Jackson over his firing in February 1989. “It’s a shame it ended,” Dileo says. “I really like Michael. It ended for a lot of reasons. First of all, Michael and I spent every day together for five-and-a-half years. A lot of people were jealous of that. And at that point in time, we had a lot of power between us. There was one or two record executives, and a lawyer, possibly two lawyers, that sort of needed me to get out of the way, so that they had more control with Michael. And it also was a way for them to get rid of Yetnikoff, who had a lot of power and was my friend.”
It’s not hard to imagine why a bunch of industry suits wanted to get their hands on Jackson. But how was Jackson convinced? “Unfortunately, they talked Michael into it,” Dileo says, “by promising him—now this is according to Michael, and I believe this—by promising him that if he fired me and hired Sandy Gallin, that he’d be able to make movies in Hollywood. Now the truth be told, Michael never made a movie. The only movie [besides 1978’s The Wiz] he’s ever made was with me, and that was Moonwalker.”
Fortunately for Frank Dileo, fate has a sense of irony.
Some mid-level mobsters are horsing around in front of the Pitkin Avenue Cab Co. on a warm summer night. After getting the evil eye from family boss Paulie Cicero, one Tony Stacks, dressed to the nines, says, “It’s your fault.” He points to Paulie’s brother Tuddy—who’s built like a cannonball and waving a cigar in his pinkie-ring- and gold-watch-adorned left hand.
“Hey Junior, here,” Tuddy shoots back, grabbing his crotch in the ultimate ****-off gesture.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before—it’s one of the opening scenes of Goodfellas, a movie film students and wiseguys alike can almost recite from memory. Tony Stacks is Tony Sirico, who’s been playing gangsters since he learned to walk. (He’s Paulie Walnuts on The Sopranos.) Tuddy, meanwhile, is Frank Dileo, a guy who hasn’t so much as acted in a junior high school play.
Call it typecasting—not to say that Frank Dileo is a gangster, but he can certainly look the part. At least that’s what Martin Scorsese thought while directing Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video. “One day we were shooting,” Dileo recalls, “and Marty and the camera guy were talking about me. So I came over, and I had my glasses and cigar, and I said, ‘I know you’re talking about me. I can tell. What is it? Is my zipper open, or what?’ ”
Dileo goes into his rat-a-tat Scorsese impersonation: “ ‘Oh, no, no’—Marty’s kind of a nervous guy—‘no, I’m shooting this movie, and I was just telling Michael [Ballhaus, his cinematographer] that you look like this character.’ And I go, ‘Wait a minute. Hold it. You’re Martin Scorsese, right?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘And you want to put me in a movie?’ ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Come on, stop jerking me off. Let’s get this movie rolling. Where do I sign?’
“And we laughed about it, and just sort of blew it off. And then he called three years later. He remembered.”
Though Tuddy Cicero is far from a lead role, Dileo is much more than an extra. He’s got several lines, but more than anything he’s a visual presence, looking like—well, Frank Dileo. He’s an essential hue in Scorsese’s palette, whether he’s running under an umbrella in the rain, threatening a mailman by cramming his head into a pizza oven, or whispering in brother Paulie’s ear at a backyard cookout.
(in regards to Frank's Office):
The fourth shot is of Frank and Michael Jackson, from behind, standing at urinals in a public restroom. Above Michael’s head, in Michael’s handwriting, are the words, “This water sure is cold.” Above Frank’s head, he wrote, “It’s deep too.”
When Jackson went on trial in 2005, Frank stayed in Los Angeles for over three months, on his own dime. “I know that he is innocent,” Dileo says. “A lot of people attack him for a lot of different reasons. One is, everybody would love to get their hands on the Beatles’ publishing. And he’s just one of those guys, he’s real kind and real nice and he can easily be taken advantage of.
“In this particular case, this kid had cancer, he found him a doctor, they didn’t have any money, he allowed them to live on his ranch. And when it was over, they didn’t want to leave. It was like blackmail. That’s all it was.
“We talked at each and every break,” Dileo continues. “I wanted to let him know that I know he didn’t do it. In fact, when I went there, he didn’t know I was coming. It was very emotional. He went, ‘Frank, I can’t believe you’re here.’ And he started to cry. And I went over and I hugged him and we got on the elevator and he told [defense attorney] Tom Mesereau, ‘This is Frank Dileo. He used to manage me. I’ve had nine managers since then. He’s the only guy that showed up, or even called to see how I’m doing.’ That was a very rough thing on him, a very emotional thing.”
Perhaps Frank Dileo was just born to be a mover and shaker, a notion that McGee Management’s Frank Rand confirms. “I was an A&R guy before [Frank] started working for Michael,” Rand says. “And A&R people and promotion people are always butting heads—they can never get us enough airplay and we can never give them enough hits. So one day I went in to Frank’s office and we started talking, and we had a constructive argument. I don’t even know what brought it up, but I said, ‘Frank, we’re in the record business!’
“And Frank said, ‘Hold on right there! You’re in the record business. I’m in show business.’ ”