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POP EYE

Michael's Managers Split, 'Prenuptial' Pact Eases Pain

August 12, 1990|PATRICK GOLDSTEIN

When a show-biz marriage starts with a prenuptial agreement, you'll never go broke betting on a divorce.

That's one way to look at last week's demise of the four-year partnership between high-profile managers Michael Lippman and Rob Kahane. The rock management split, which leaves Kahane with superstar client George Michael and Lippman with a host of top rock producers, came in the wake of insider reports that Kahane was eager to devote more time to Michael's career.

"I think in any relationship people have specific directions they're going in--and Michael (Lippman) and I were simply going in different directions," said Kahane, who will also take such up-and-comers as Megadeth and Michael McDermott to his new firm. "I wanted to focus on launching George's career, but as the company grew there was more time requested of me to deal with other areas of our business than I had time to give."

When managers split, relations can sour quickly, especially when ex-partners fight over claims to lucrative management commissions. But Lippman and Kahane both confirmed that the team had signed a "prenuptial-type contract," which prescribed the parameters of their relationship. "It's very clear," said Kahane. "There are no question marks." Lippman concurred: "We still have financial ties. I'll continue to have a financial interest in George Michael's career, including his upcoming album and tour."

Lippman said he plans to concentrate on working with his roster of producers, who include such heavyweights as Mike Clink (who's produced Guns N' Roses), Ron Nevison (Chicago), Don Gehman (John Cougar Mellencamp) and Richie Zito (Heart and Cheap Trick). He also plans to establish a new publishing company that would continue a pre-existing affiliation with Warner/Chappel Music. "Managing artists was always important to me," Lippman explained. "But my philosophy has always been--keep it small. The company just got to be too much."

As for Kahane, he's busy touting George Michael, who returns next month with a new album, "Listen Without Prejudice Vol. I." Kahane revealed an intriguing new nugget: Michael's first single, "Praying for Time," due Aug. 24, will be released without the traditional MTV video.

"George wants the music to speak for itself--and his music is so commercially viable that I'm in total agreement with him," said Kahane. "Too many superstars today are more worried about reinventing their image through videos than worrying about their music. Look at Madonna--she's done great things with her image, but I don't think her music has grown."

Kahane quickly added that Michael's video ban won't leave MTV completely out in the cold, saying the video channel will air a one-hour special on two nights, beginning Sept. 8, about the making of his new album.

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