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Chris Brown and 'GMA:' What's really going on

In this publicity image released by ABC, singer

In this publicity image released by ABC, singer Chris Brown, left, is interviewed by co-host Robin Roberts on the morning program "Good Morning America," Tuesday, March 22, 2011 in New York. Brown was on �GMA� Tuesday to promote his new album, �F.A.M.E.,� released the same day. During his interview with Roberts, she asked him about the 2009 attack on his then-girlfriend. (AP Photo/ABC, Ida Mae Astute) Credit: AP Photo/Ida Mae Astute

So you're probably wondering what's really going on with Chris Brown and ABC, and so may have drifted to this post. Congratulations -- you've arrived at the right place, and here are my conclusions born of a fairly well developed sense of how this business really works.

First, the facts as far as we know: Chris Brown, a major pop star who purveys stuff mostly to teens, was charged two years ago with beating fairly severely another star. A plea deal is worked out though -- understandably -- the victim insists on a restraining order, which is recently relaxed.

Because the beating was so shocking and violent, and so contrary to the carefully managed image of Brown, it was big news and will always be a subtext to his story -- forever.

Fast forward: His management books what is generally known as a corporate deal with Disney -- and other major media outlets -- for interviews and performances on its various programs; this deal is probably not "exclusive," per se, because he'll also appear on Viacom properties.

Stick with me ... I know this sounds dull ... but this is how the business works...

He'll get an interview on "Good Morning America," and also perform -- AND also perform for the website, a coup for "GMA." That's followed by a performance on "Dancing with the Stars," TV's most viewed -- after "American Idol" -- series, and quite a coup for ABC because "DWTS" is getting first crack at his new album "F.A.M.E." well ahead of "Idol," which will probably have him on when his concert tour hits the United States. (The first swing, through Australia, begins mid-April.)

Still with me? Good.

Brown appears on "GMA" as scheduled. As he is led to understand -- or so he says -- this is strictly "about the music," or code for -- no questions about the past. His people have even distributed a talking points memo saying what he wants to talk about. This means, as he understands it, that this is strictly a promotional appearance.

Anchor Robin Roberts, has other ideas. She tells him -- she says -- before the interview and again during a commercial break that she plans to ask about the relaxation on the restraining order. She says he is aware of this, and will address it.

He says - later - that he is not aware she will ask this, and is blind-sided.

Someone one is lying. But this is a post that is not going to cast aspersions - merely state what I know.

Next, he goes to his dressing room. No one knows exactly what happens inside, but Brown and his entourage. But he is believed to have grabbed a cooler and thrown it. Then, he picks up a chair and smashes it into a thick plate glass window that shatters. These second floor windows are thick for a reason -- so people from the street don't throw objects or worse, shoot out the window.

Brown may not expect the window to shatter, but it does. People at "GMA" are shocked. They've never seen this sort of explosive violence. This is the man who beat a young woman into a bloody pulp. Now, he's going berserk on them. People are scared,too.

He leaves and does not even apologize. Roberts the next day invites him back to the program. There are no discernable problems whatsoever. She smiles: "I'm rooting for the guy..."

More facts: Not only is he invited back, but ABC refuses to cancel a promoted appearance on "Dancing with the Stars."

So, those are the facts. Now, what gives. If you had thrown the chair you'd be in jail now, facing a year in prison, and fines. If the window had cut someone below, you'd be facing attempted manslaughter charges. If it had killed someone...

OK, now to seasoned speculation: Disney and Brown, particularly his label Jive, have deep ties. Jive's owned by Sony Music Group which does an enormous amount of business with Disney -- not only in terms of supplying programming, but especially in terms of radio play for its various artists. Severing ties with a major star like Brown -- who did not kill anyone -- would cause a severe problem with Sony, which has many millions invested in "F.A.M.E.", the follow up album, and many more millions invested in Brown's career.

Sony and Jive have worked out -- rather negotiated - an arrangement with ABC that will guarantee a specific amount of airtime -- both radio and TV -- and the inducement for ABC will be multifold, both in terms of promotion (particularly) and the benefit Brown's appearances will accrue to its various properties in terms of ratings.

And while U.S. concert dates haven't been announced, he may well end up at Disney-owned properties, or even at the various theme parks. Remember: His appearance on "GMA" has been negotiated as part of a broad umbrella deal with Disney, that has many many facets, all of them hidden from the public.

One immediate benefit for ABC will be ratings for "GMA," in a dogfight with "Today," and to its popular website. Another beneficiary will be "DWTS," whose ratings have dropped somewhat from last season.

Brown's appearance -- now notorious appearance -- should mitigate that.

Finally, to drop Brown from "DWTS" -- especially when no charges have been filed - would abrogate that carefully negotiated agreement between Jive and Disney. ABC and Disney could even open themselves up to a potential breach of contract lawsuit.

If you are still with me, a summation: Big pop star who beats other star to bloody pulp causes thousands of dollars in damages to the property of major media company, which invites him back to continue promoting his record.

The moral of this story: It's only business.

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