'Debaters' scores four NAACP nods

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"The Great Debaters" took center stage Thursday night, winning the award for outstanding motion picture at the 39th annual NAACP Image Awards.

Denzel Washington, who starred in and directed the film about a college debate team, was named best actor, while the film's Jurnee Smollett was named best actress. The movie's Denzel Whitaker took home the statue for supporting actor.

Tyler Perry also proved a big winner. His film "Why Did I Get Married?" garnered Janet Jackson the award for outstanding supporting actress, while the TBS series "House of Payne" won for comedy series. "Payne's" LaVan Davis was honored as outstanding actor in a comedy series, while Lance Gross was crowned outstanding supporting actor for his portrayal of the spoiled son of Curtis and Ella Payne.

"Nobody thought it would work," Perry said of the show. "I don't care if a thousand people tell you no, if you get one 'yes' from God, that's all you need to make it. Today I stand here with that God 'yes.' "

Other winners dominating the television category included HBO's "Life Support" and ABC's "Ugly Betty" and "Grey's Anatomy."

Queen Latifah and Wendell Pierce were voted outstanding actress and actor in a television movie, miniseries or dramatic special for "Support," which also won for outstanding TV movie, miniseries or dramatic special.

America Ferrera won for best actress in a comedy series for "Betty," while co-star Vanessa Williams garnered the supporting actress in a comedy series award.

"Grey's Anatomy" won for drama series, and the show's Chandra Wilson was honored as outstanding supporting actress in a drama series.

The prize for actor in a dramatic series went to Hill Harper of "CSI: NY." The Valentine's Day timing of the show led Harper to hand his trophy off to his mother onstage.

"This is for you. Happy Valentine's Day," Harper said. "The Image Award means legacy. This woman represents my legacy."

Just off her Grammy wins on Sunday night, Alicia Keys swept the musical categories with four awards, winning for music video, song and album and garnering the female artist award.

Also winning awards Thursday were Kasi Lemmons for directing in a motion picture for Focus Features' "Talk to Me" and Seith Mann for directing in a dramatic series for his work on NBC's "Friday Night Lights," with the episode "Are You Ready for Friday Night?"

There were plenty of other honors that took place during Thursday's ceremony, which was hosted by comedian D.L. Hughley.

Stevie Wonder was inducted into the Image Awards' Hall of Fame, while Aretha Franklin received the Vanguard Award.

Ruby Dee, who recently won a SAG Award for her performance in "American Gangster," was honored with the annual Chairman's Award.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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