chris brown 236x300 Chris Brown: Career Over?Chris Brown copped a felony plea today in the Rihanna case, and got 5 years’ probation plus community service.

It looks like he walked away from his February 8th crime. But not really. The big question now is: What’s left of his career?

Brown records for Jive Records, which is part of Sony Music Entertainment. He’s supposedly been in the studio for the last couple of months. He owes Jive an album. Believe me, they’d like it. Or, would have liked it.

How now to market new music by a singer who’s essentially admitted to beating up his superstar girlfriend?

My sources over at Jive are perplexed. For a while they were talking about a fall release from Brown. But that seems unlikely after today’s events. Brown’s career may be over — not entirely, but for a while.

It’s not like other hip-hoppers haven’t had jail time, convictions, or guilty pleas. Many of them have been rehabilitated. Snoop Dogg has gone from Most Wanted to Most Loved in some circles. Violence has always trailed Diddy, but somehow he’s managed to keep it away from his career.

This incident may be different, though. In all those cases, the alleged victims were anonymous, or unknown, to the public. Rihanna is a big star. There’s ready photographic evidence of Brown’s beating of her. Every time they have to be at a public event, there’s now a court order to keep them 10 yards apart. Imagine a red carpet under those conditions.

The shame of it is that Brown is young and extremely talented. He did a terrible and stupid thing. Now he’s going to need the best p.r. campaign in the world to try and undo this mess — that is, if he wants to continue being a star himself. How long before he’s weeping with Barbara Walters, and letting Oprah berate him on the air?

Good luck, Chris. You’re going to need it.

rihanna court1 Chris Brown: Career Over?

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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