- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2009

‘I ain’t a monster’

Chris Brown wants the world to know he “ain’t a monster.”

After months of lying low, the baby-faced R&B singer - accused of beating his pop-singer girlfriend, Rihanna, in February - finally is speaking out on a new YouTube video, the New York Daily News reports.

“All the blog sites are liars. You guys lie. No black eye,” Mr. Brown says while wagging his finger at the Web camera set up in a bowling alley.

The black eye he’s referring to likely wasn’t Rihanna’s but the reported shiner he had in a photo taken of him with Usher at a recent basketball game in Orlando.

“I just want to say ‘What up’ because I ain’t been out there in a minute,” the platinum-selling artist says.

“We ain’t going nowhere. Everybody that’s haters, they just been haters. All my real fans, I love you all. I ain’t a monster.”

He goes on to plug his new album,”Graffiti,” and promises to release a single this summer.

Mr. Brown, 20, was charged with punching, choking and biting Rihanna, 21, in the pre-dawn hours before the Grammy Awards. He’s also accused of threatening to kill her.

He pleaded not guilty in April, and his attorney, Mark Geragos , is due in court today to possibly set a date for his preliminary hearing.

If convicted, Mr. Brown could face a five-year prison sentence.

Rihanna has said through her lawyer that she “would be pleased if this were over quickly.”

Boyle to the rescue

Once under fire for not doing enough for their film’s two impoverished Indian child stars, the makers of “Slumdog Millionaire” said Wednesday that they have purchased an apartment for one of them.

Director Danny Boyle and producer Christian Colson flew to Mumbai after pictures of Azharuddin Ismail and Rubina Ali picking through the debris of their Mumbai shanty homes - torn down by civic authorities as illegal - were splashed in the media, Reuters news agency reports.

Smiling and hugging the children, Mr. Boyle said a home had been bought for Azharuddin, 9, who played Salim as a child. He added they would soon buy one for Rubina, who played the young Latika.

Mr. Boyle, who came under fire for not doing enough for the children, who lived in squalor despite the film’s success, blamed the media for raising the families’ expectations.

“They were given access to a world, an extraordinary and glamorous world, and they understandably want their lives to be completely transformed,” he said. “The homes are a concern. That is one of the reasons why we built the trust.”

The Jai Ho Trust, named after the song from the film’s award-winning soundtrack and set up by Mr. Boyle and Mr. Colson, is meant to pay for the education and basic living costs of Azharuddin and Rubina until they turn 18.

Mr. Boyle, whose rags-to-riches romance about a poor Indian boy competing in a TV game show scooped eight Academy Awards in February, said he was pushing the trust to find a place for Rubina before the monsoon rains, expected to begin around June 10.

Mexican greetings

Superstar Hugh Jackman addressed the international media Wednesday during a press conference before the Mexico City premiere of his latest film, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine.”

The Tony-winning actor expressed his support of Mexico, recognizing the country and its people for their resilience and quick actions in handling the recent outbreak of the swine flu, which delayed the movie’s premiere earlier this month. He also addressed the discrimination he said Mexico has been facing.

“I wanted to come and show my support to the local businesses and the tourism sector and to let everyone know, Mexico is a great place to vacation,” Mr. Jackman told the crowd at the Four Season’s Hotel in the country’s capital.

“I’ve visited Mexico many times, and its people are incredibly friendly. Mexico is art, culture, architecture, gastronomy, happiness and history; this is a marvelous blend, and one has to be crazy not to come here.”

Mr. Jackman also discussed his Tuesday visit with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

“It was a gratifying experience speaking with a leader of his caliber,” Mr. Jackman said, “and that he has shared all this with me, with such honesty, filled me with respect. His solidarity inspired me, and as a result I felt very close to his people.”

Recovering nicely

Elizabeth Taylor says she’s home from the hospital and “feeling great,” Associated Press reports.

The 77-year-old actress sent a tweet to her fans on the Twitter microblogging site Tuesday, announcing she was home after a hospital stay.

Publicist Dick Guttman said Miss Taylor was admitted Friday to an undisclosed hospital “for a routine visit.”

• Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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