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TCA Diary: Questions about domestic abuse lead to awkward denials from Bobby Brown

At event for his biopic, Brown says he never hit Whitney Houston

5:08 PMLOS ANGELES — Bobby Brown is happy to promote his own story as long as we agree to overlook the most unflattering elements of it.

During a news conference Friday at the Television Critics Association press tour, where he was promoting a new narrative TV film about his life, Brown denied that domestic violence had ever been a part of his relationship with Whitney Houston, despite public records that directly contradict this assertion. Brown was on hand to promote The Bobby Brown Story, a BET movie that Brown co-executive produced. Woody McClain stars as Brown.

Brown said he had “no regrets” about his life, so I asked him if that extended to documented instances of domestic abuse in his relationship with Houston, to which their only child together, Bobbi Kristina, was exposed.

“There was no violent incidents between me and Whitney, so you know,” he responded.

But in 2003, Fulton County, Georgia, police responded to a 911 call from the house where Houston and Brown lived. Houston sported a cut lip and bruised cheek, according to the police report. Brown turned himself in and was charged with misdemeanor battery for hitting Houston and telling her he would “beat her a–.”

Brown denied its existence. “You’re completely wrong,” he said when I mentioned the call. An awkward silence fell over the ballroom, and Brown said, “One more question.”

Another reporter read a news report of the incident aloud and pressed Brown. “There is a 911 call. It’s in the public record.” (In a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Houston addressed the violence between herself and Brown.)

“The public record is wrong,” Brown said. He did not elaborate.

Thursday, on the third anniversary of Bobbi Kristina Brown’s death, Brown announced that he was planning to build a domestic violence shelter to honor her, a physical expansion of the Bobbi Kristina Serenity House nonprofit he established in 2015. Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unconscious in a bathtub in her Georgia home in 2015, nearly three years to the day after her mother was discovered dead in the bathtub of her hotel room here at the Beverly Hilton.

Bobbi Kristina Brown’s relationship with her boyfriend at the time of her death, Nick Gordon, was a violent one. Gordon has been repeatedly arrested for domestic abuse.

BET had scheduled post-news-conference access to Brown but scrapped it after the two questions about Brown’s history with domestic abuse.

BET cancels ‘The Rundown With Robin Thede’

The network’s most promising show in years is now TV history

6:05 PMWednesday’s supremely disappointing news: BET has canceled The Rundown With Robin Thede, the witty weekly late-night show that made Thede the only black woman hosting a late-night show.

The Hollywood Reporter broke the news.

It can take a while for new late-night shows to find their sea legs, sometimes even multiple seasons. And part of the reason why this stings so much is that toward the end of its first — and now only — season, The Rundown was doing just that. From the start, it had an energetic, specific point of view that differentiated itself from a crowded late-night slate. Thede and her staff made meals of the NFL’s conflict with Colin Kaepernick and kneeling players. They followed the various travails of Auntie Maxine in her rhetorical duels with the president. The Rundown provided a distinctly modern comedy show centered on blackness that never condescended to its viewers.

In its later episodes, the show was starting to develop longer, more in-depth segments about folks the news media often ignore, particularly black women. There aren’t many shows that are offering that sort of lens, which is why Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas, with its focus on policing, is so refreshing. I was looking forward to The Rundown’s deep dives into black lives, which were sure to be just as compelling as Samantha Bee interviewing Syrian refugees or John Oliver traveling to Russia. What a shame that’s no longer what the future holds — at least not at BET.