J. Lo shakes up her empire. Jennifer Lopez parts with the man who guided her to stardom. Is Ben Affleck involved?

By Brian Hiatt
Updated June 11, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Jennifer Lopez: Thomas Grabka/Action Press/NewsCom

Call it Jenny on the chopping block. Jennifer Lopez split Tuesday from her longtime manager, Benny Medina, after parting ways with her talent agency, Endeavor, the day before. ”Sometimes, however difficult, change can be a positive thing,” Lopez said in a statement. ”Benny is someone who has helped me both personally and professionally in countless ways.” But an industry source, who requested anonymity, tells EW.com: ”I think it’s Ben Affleck’s influence. If she wasn’t with him, she’d have the same business manager, the same agent. Then again, he may be doing what’s right for her.” (Lopez’s publicist declined to respond.)

Endeavor released a statement Monday night saying it was THEIR decision to part with Lopez: ”As an agency, we were no longer able to work with her manager, Benny Medina.” For his part, Medina said in a statement that he’s not bitter. ”The five years that I have spent with Jennifer have been some of the most creative and productive of my life. I look back on what we accomplished together with a great deal of pride and satisfaction.” The anonymous source dismissed speculation that Medina was responsible for Lopez’s so-called diva image in the press: ”Nobody creates the diva image for the diva except the diva herself. Benny built an amazing empire with this girl.”

But will the management moves pay off for Lopez? Possibly, but there are challenges ahead. News of the shakeup could damage Lopez’s image with fans who have admired her girl-next-door loyalty. What’s more, Lopez’s new agency, reportedly CAA, faces the considerable task of stepping in for Medina. He had an unusually broad profile for a manager, helping run her movie and music careers, along with her perfume and clothing ventures. It isn’t easy being the good man behind a successful woman.