Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce won major honors at the NAACP Image Awards on Thursday night, where The Secret Life of Bees was named best picture.
But both Rihanna and Chris Brown stayed away from the most prestigious African-American awards show of the year, which took place less than a week after Brown, 19, was arrested for making criminal threats against Rihanna, 20.
Will Smith and Rosario Dawson took the top actor and actress awards for Seven Pounds, while Hudson took home trophies for outstanding new artist, best album and best collaboration.
Beyonce was named best female artist and Jamie Foxx was best male artist. Rap mogul Sean Combs was named best TV actor for his role in Raisin in the Sun. Slumdog Millionaire won the prize for outstanding independent motion picture.
Meanwhile, new details emerged on Wednesday about Brown’s alleged attack.
According to E! Online, Rihanna told police that her superstar boyfriend threatened to kill her and then choked her until she lost consciousness.
The glamorous young couple started fighting in Brown’s rented Lamborghini following a star-studded pre-Grammy party late Saturday, Feb. 7. According to OK magazine, the tiff was sparked when Brown received a text message from another woman after reportedly flirting with Paris Hilton at the party.
When Brown pulled over in a swanky Los Angeles neighborhood, Rihanna grabbed the car keys and threw them out the window, E! reported. After struggling to find the keys, Brown then wrapped his hands around his girlfriend’s neck and screamed, “I’m going to kill you.”
Rihanna reportedly told police she lost consciousness and woke up to find Brown gone. Police were called by a neighbor and took Rihanna to hospital in a squad car, where she was treated for a split lip, contusions on her forehead and bite marks on her arms.
Rihanna and Brown missed the Grammy Awards ceremony on Sunday of last week, at which both had been scheduled to perform.
Brown was arrested on charges of making criminal threats and is free on US$50,000 bail. Prosecutors have ordered police to continue their investigation into the incident, a sign that more serious charges are being weighed.
Peter Gabriel’s minute in the Oscars spotlight will lack one important element: Peter Gabriel. The Academy Award-nominated singer won’t perform at the Feb. 22 ceremony to protest an apparently revamped presentation of best original song contenders. Gabriel says in a video on his Web site that he objects to the songs being shortened to 65 seconds apiece and made part of a medley. Gabriel is nominated alongside Thomas Newman for Down to Earth from WALL-E.
“It’s a bit unfortunate because the songwriters, even though they’re a small part of the whole filmmaking process, we still work bloody hard and deserve a place in the ceremony as well,” the 59-year-old singer said.
In other film news, director Claudia Llosa’s The Milk of Sorrow, a movie that addresses the fears of women abused during Peru’s turbulent recent history, won the Berlin film festival’s top Golden Bear award.
The movie stars Magaly Solier as Fausta, a young woman suffering from a mysterious illness that is said to be transferred through the milk of mothers who were raped or physically abused during Peruvian authorities’ long war against leftist guerrillas. The Spanish-Peruvian co-production is Llosa’s second feature film.