Brown opts out of awards
Chris Brown, who is facing felony charges for allegedly attacking his girlfriend, pop singer Rihanna, withdrew Wednesday from Nickelodeon’s hugely popular Kids’ Choice Awards.
The pullout further fuels an escalating public relations fire around the 19-year-old singer, who has become a renewed target of outrage, particularly among daytime talk show hosts, since the release of court papers last week that said the R&B; singer punched, bit and choked his girlfriend after an exclusive pre-Grammys party on Feb. 8.
The departure spared cable’s Nickelodeon, built on such kid-friendly rating successes as “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “iCarly,” more embarrassment as pressure mounted from parents’ groups this week to have the singer removed from the prestigious list of nominees, which also included Jack Black, Reese Witherspoon and Brown’s 21-year-old girlfriend, Rihanna.
Last week, a Superior Court judge postponed Brown’s arraignment until next month. The Virginia native, who is charged with assault and making criminal threats, faces a maximum sentence of nearly five years in prison if convicted.
Even as late as Tuesday, Nickelodeon officials had said they would not turn away Brown from the March 28 awards ceremony, which is as famous for attracting A-list celebrities as for dropping green slime on them.
The 19-year-old was nominated by kids’ votes several months ago in the categories for favorite male singer and favorite song.
“Chris very much appreciates the support of his fans and the honor they have paid him in the way of nominations,” said a posting on the singer’s website. “Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding the incident last month has shifted the focus from the music to whether he should be allowed to be among those nominated.
“While Chris would like to speak to his fans directly about this and other issues, pending legal proceedings preclude his doing so at this time,” the statement said. “Once the matter before him has been resolved, he intends to do so.”
Nickelodeon officials confirmed that Brown will not attend the awards event, which will be broadcast live from Westwood on the youth-oriented cable network (but tape-delayed on the West Coast) and is considered one of the year’s hottest tickets with young viewers.
“We agree with and respect his decision,” said a network statement.
Brown’s departure comes amid reports that the couple have reconciled and recently recorded an as-yet-untitled love song together. That song is scheduled to appear on Brown’s new album later this year.
Polow da Don, who has crafted hits for a constellation of hip-hop and R&B; stars including Ludacris, the Pussycat Dolls and Ciara, wrote the lyrics and music for the R&B-flavored; love song prior to Brown’s arrest in February. It was originally intended as a single for Rihanna, with a remix featuring Brown, but after the incident, the producer urged the two singers to perform the song as a duet.
“My heart goes out to both Chris Brown and Rihanna regarding what happened in the past,” Polow da Don, a multi-platinum-selling record producer, said in a statement to The Times. “I enjoyed working with both of them. I think they are both great musical artists.”
The furor over the alleged attack has generated heat among a host of entertainment news shows and talk show hosts. Shows such as cable’s “Access Hollywood” aired a series of reports on “abuse awareness,” while BET’s “106 & Park” is scheduled to address abusive relationships tonight.
Last week, Tyra Banks lashed out against Brown on her talk show, but it was Oprah Winfrey’s comments during a discussion about Rihanna that garnered the most public attention.
“If a man hits you once, he will hit you again,” Winfrey said last week. “He will hit you again. I don’t care what his plea is.”
The fallout continued Tuesday on Ellen DeGeneres’ afternoon show. She had a tense exchange with record producer Sean “Diddy” Combs, who allowed the couple to stay at his Miami home soon after the altercation. DeGeneres grilled Combs about why he had offered his home, and indicated that she hoped the couple’s reconciliation would not send a message that young girls should think it’s OK for boyfriends to hit them.
But Combs defended his offer, explaining it was a “favor” to friends experiencing a “dark time.” He also said that DeGeneres did not know all the facts of the case.
“You weren’t in the car,” he added.
Times staff writer Denise Martin contributed to this report.