March 22, 2011 / 5:06 PM / in 8 years

Chris Brown outburst divides fans, album soars

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer Chris Brown angrily stormed out of a TV studio on Tuesday, reigniting controversy over his 2009 assault on singer Rihanna but helping to send his new album to the top of iTunes charts.

Singer Chris Brown is shown on the set of ABC's "Good Morning America" in this publicity photo released to Reuters March 22, 2011. Brown stormed out of a TV show studio leaving his dressing room window shattered after being questioned about his 2009 assault on singer Rihanna by host Robin Roberts on Tuesday. REUTERS/Ida Mae Astute/ABC/Handout

Brown, 21, who has struggled to repair his image after hitting and punching his then girlfriend two years ago, left behind a smashed window in his dressing room after dodging questions about the incident in an interview on ABC television’s “Good Morning America”.

News of the outburst divided fans of the R&B singer, while viewers of ABC’s highly-rated TV competition “Dancing with the Stars” demanded the cancellation of a a planned performance by Brown on next week’s show.

However, Brown’s new album “F.A.M.E”, on the Jive record label, was the top downloaded album on Apples’ iTunes store on its first day of release Tuesday, an Apple spokesman said.

Brown’s music career stalled after he pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in February 2009, setting off a national debate on young, abusive relationships.

He publicly apologized, then underwent court-ordered domestic violence counseling and spent six months performing community service.

But when pressed about the incident on “Good Morning America”, Brown appeared annoyed and said; “It’s not really a big deal to me now, as far as that situation. I think I’m past that in my life. Today’s the album day, so that’s what I’m focused on.”

He followed up with a Twitter message — according to media reports and later deleted from his account — saying “I’m so over people bringing this past shit up!!! Yet we praise Charlie sheen and other celebs for there bullshit.” (Spelling and grammar are unchanged).

Some fans agreed. “We love you Chris!! There’s no reason for anyone to even ask him about Rihanna anymore, ABC should have had something better to talk about as that is old,” wrote supporter nthnbtlove on the MTV message boards.

But viewers of ABC’s top-rated reality show “Dancing with the Stars” felt differently. Brown is scheduled to sing on the show in a week’s time.

“His freak out on GMA proves how scary and unpredictable he is. If ABC does not do the right thing and ban him, I will have no choice but to not watch that episode,” wrote chadcronin on the official “Dancing” message boards.

ABC did not return calls for comments on Brown’s planned “Dancing with the Stars” appearance.

ABC News said in a statement; “As always, we asked questions that are relevant and newsworthy, and that’s what we did in this interview with Mr. Brown.”

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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