Memo to: Academy Awards Producers; re: Presenters.
The Purple One (or really more of a robin's egg blue tonight) made a rare appearance as a presenter Friday at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards, and you'd have thought Halle Berry had come tumbling out of her golden gown the way the crowd roared and whistled—even while he talked!
Let's just say, it was quite a moment, one conspicuously missing from a certain other awards show this year.
"This couldn't be more amazing, to win an Image Award, but have it be handed to you by Prince?! I've only loved him my whole life," a dazed Berry said in accepting Best Actress in a Motion Picture for Frankie & Alice, based on a true story about a woman with multiple personality disorder.
But that's just the kind of a show the Image Awards is—it's way more insidery than the Oscars, but it's warm and full of good vibes, and no one gets kicked off the stage no matter how long he or she goes on. (Trust us, a small price to pay for the Prince moment.)
Though the two longest speeches came courtesy of special honorees Colin Powell and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin after even longer tributes narrated by Morgan Freeman, there were still plenty of silly moments—and more than a few gaffes.
Kimberly Elise—later redeemed by winning Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for ultimate Best Picture winner For Colored Girls—apparently didn't recognize Best Actor in a Daytime Drama winner Darnell Williams.
"I just came from work. Still got my phone in my hand, my ticket," the All My Children star said, easing the awkwardness after proving that he was in fact there to receive his award from Elise. "I just got out of the car. I don't know what the hell to say right now. Thank you, this is kind of a cool award."
And Berry couldn't quite spit out "Mavis Staples" when she had to, but she gave a very eloquent acceptance speech, Prince-induced blush and all.
Other big winners included an absentee Denzel Washington, Best Actor in a Motion Picture for The Book of Eli; Samuel L. Jackson, Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for Mother and Child; Vanessa L. Williams, Best Actress in a Comedy Series for Modern Family; Sofía Vergara, Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series; Regina King, Best Actress in a Drama Series for Southland; and LL Cool J, Best Actor in a Drama Series for NCIS: Los Angeles.
Get the complete list of winners at www.naacpimageawards.net.
(Originally published March 4, 2011, at 7:50 p.m. PT)