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?

Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is 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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