Chris Brown was the center of more than just one instance of drama at the AMAs!
By now, you’ve probably seen the viral finger-wagging clip of Kelly Rowland silencing boos from the audience at Sunday night’s American Music Awards after she announced the musician won the award for Favorite Male R&B Artist. He, of course, wasn’t in attendance so she accepted the honor on his behalf while standing up for him against the hate.
But if only he had Kelly in his corner earlier in the week!
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As it turns out, Chris was supposed to be at the glitzy music event over the weekend — and not just in the audience. He was scheduled to take the stage during a TV event for the first time since the #MeToo movement hit Hollywood. It would’ve been his first televised performance since the 2017 BET Awards. A pretty big deal, especially since he (a convicted domestic abuser) was going to be honoring Michael Jackson… who has faced disturbing child molestation accusations. Oof. What a problematic pairing…
Ahead of the performance, journalist Matthew Belloni for Puck News reached out to Disney and ABC to get the 411 on the controversial tribute — only to learn the higher-ups (somehow) had no clue this was happening, inciting major drama behind the scenes of the live show. Yeesh!
According to multiple sources on both sides of the issue who spoke to the outlet on Sunday, Jesse Collins and Stephen Hill, who executive produced the show for Dick Clark Productions, were working with CB and his team on a medley of MJ hits with Ciara and other artists to honor the 40th anniversary of Thriller.
But also on the setlist? Beat It. Which, you know, is a bold AF choice considering Brown plead guilty to physically assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. He’s also been accused of several other instances of abuse (including allegedly hitting another woman as recently as last year). Seeing him perform a song with that title would have been wildly insensitive and ripe for controversy!
But, apparently, the EPs (especially Hill ,who had a good relationship with the songwriter after being a former programming chief at BET) were excited to give the singer a chance to return to TV, especially after hearing him complain in August about being shadow-banned from the industry for his past behavior. But was this really the best decision on Disney’s part??
Well, Matthew wanted to know just that and decided to call for a comment last weekend, but instead of getting answers, he ended up opening a can of worms. Apparently, Disney/ABC execs had no clue about these performance plans. ABC Entertainment president Craig Erwich was then alerted and Rob Mills, the network’s head of alternative and specials, went back to the producers to nix the plan. Per Puck’s sources, Collins and Hill were furious. In a call with Mills, they explained the backlash they assumed they’d get from Chris and his massive following if they axed the tribute. This led to a major debate between Erwich, Mills, the Disney/ABC PR team, and Felicia Joseph, head of ABC talent. Even Disney TV chief Dana Walden was briefed on the drama. Damn!
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Interestingly, despite the many allegations against the 33-year-old crooner, Disney wasn’t against him taking the stage, they just didn’t like the preplanned tribute since the content was likely going to create a massive scandal. Instead, they suggested the producers find a way to include a performance from Chris more thoughtfully — but the artist, who had already been rehearsing, had no interest in changing things up, which the EPs assumed would be the case.
After the tribute was canned, the singer went on to slam the AMAs on social media. While sharing rehearsal footage on Instagram, he wrote on Friday:
“WOULDVE been the ama performance but they cancelled me for reasons unknown.”
Ciara did the same thing — check it out:
Well, the reasons weren’t unknown at all!
And if Chris really wanted to perform, he likely could have since a non-Jackson workaround was on the table if he was game. But, alas, he wasn’t. Meanwhile, Ciara did switch things up and instead presented an award at the show. According to the outlet, D.C.P. president Adam Stotsky apologized to the House of Mouse for any miscommunication, while a rep told Puck:
“Live shows change all the time, it’s the nature of this business. Unfortunately, this element of the AMAs didn’t come together as we couldn’t align on the performance, to no fault of Chris Brown.”
Hmm. Kinda seems like it IS his fault though! We mean, his history of abuse was part of the problem! ABC has yet to comment on the scandal. It’s hard to imagine anyone would’ve thought this tribute — and especially the inclusion of the song Beat It — would have been an appropriate way for Chris to return to TV! Thoughts, Perezcious readers? Which side of the debate are YOU on? Let us know (below)!
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help is available. Consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, or text START to 88788, or go to https://www.thehotline.org/.
[Image via Michael Jackson/REVOLT/YouTube]