IN THE END, Rihanna didn't have to dime out Chris Brown.
Before she needed to be called to testify, her ex-boyfriend pleaded guilty to one count of felony assault on the "Umbrella" singer.
He entered his plea before his preliminary hearing began.
Brown will be sentenced on Aug. 5, but the terms of the plea deal call for him to serve five years of formal probation and six months - roughly 1,400 hours - of community labor. He will be able to complete his probation in his home state of Virginia and his service will be made up of either graffiti removal or roadside cleanup.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg also ordered Brown to stay at least 50 yards away from Rihanna.
Rihanna, 21, had not sought a stay-away order.
After Brown entered his plea and left the courtroom, Rihanna entered and Schnegg explained to the Barbados-born singer that the stay-away order was not a one-way order - she will be in violation if she gets closer to Brown than the order allows.
Brown spoke softly throughout the hearing as he waived his rights and told the judge he understood the gravity of his plea.
"I think it's commendable you took responsibility for your conduct," Schnegg told Brown.
She said she hoped "the terms and conditions of your probation will have some meaning."
Had Brown not taken a plea and gone to trial, he risked a jail sentence of up to nearly five years if he'd been convicted.
* In other beat-down news, Toronto police have charged Polo Molina, the tour manager of the Black Eyed Peas, with assault after he allegedly punched celebrity blogger Perez Hilton (aka Mario Lavandeira) outside the Cobra nightclub early yesterday.
Perez, who was at the club with Lady Gaga, said he got into an argument with BEPs Fergie and will.i.am at Cobra and was punched by Molina. They were at the club following a video-awards show Sunday night.
Molina turned himself in and has been charged with assault. He is due in court Aug. 5.
Not to be upstaged by the revolution in Iran, Perez complained about the incident on Twitter. He tweeted at 4 a.m.: "I am bleeding. Please, I need to file a police report. No joke."
Perez, who is openly gay, told the Associated Press that he called will.i.am a "faggot" (akin to a homophobic pot calling a kettle black) after will.i.am told the Queen of all Media not to write about the Peas on his Web site.
"He was like 'You need to respect me.' He was in my face. He was obviously trying to intimidate me and scare me," Perez said. "I was like 'I don't need to respect you. I don't respect you' and I did say this, and I knew that it would be the worst thing I could possibly say to him because he was acting the way he was. I said 'You know what, I don't respect you and you're gay and stop being such a faggot.' "
* In a related nonstory, former Miss California Carrie Prejean has become the Black Eyed Peas' No. 1 fan.
Farrah and Ryan's story
In a plotline eerily similar to "Love Story," star Ryan O'Neal told Barbara Walters in an interview for Friday's "20/20" that he plans to marry his longtime love, ailing Farrah Fawcett.
Ryan, 68, says the pair will tie the knot "as soon as she can say yes."
Farrah, 62, has turned down Ryan's proposals of marriage for nearly 30 years.
He says Farrah is "fighting for her life," but despite her declining health, they will "absolutely" get married.
Tattle's Tuesday giveaway
Celebrate the vibrant cuisine of the south of France at Patou (312 Market St.). Chef Patrice Rames dazzles Old City guests with delicious small plates, mouth-watering entrees, and freshly baked pizzas.
Indulge in a jumbo lump crab salad, moules frites, and garlic-herb butter escargot. Savor chef Rames' pan- seared day-boat scallops, spinach and goat cheese-crusted salmon, or a hand-cut, fire-grilled steak.
Two winners will each receive a free dinner for two and one cocktail, beer or glass of wine per person, chosen from Patou's summer menu. To have a chance to win, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (no hyphens or spaces) by Thursday at noon with your name, address, phone number AND the words "I want to dine in the south of France without leaving Philadelphia."
Only one entry per e-mail address. The two winners will be picked at random. Good luck.
* The winner of two tickets to Saturday's Kenny Chesney concert is Dana Orr, of Wayne.
* Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves are expecting another baby.
McConaughey, 39, announced the news in a posting on his Web site on Father's Day.
The pair has an 11-month-old son, Levi.
* Long rumored,
the Hollywood Reporter says Chace Crawford's dance partner in the unnecessary remake of "Footloose" will be "Dancing With the Stars" mainstay Julianne Hough.
This is assuming her schedule works for the March shoot.
Ah, we think she'll find time.
* Another z-list celebrity has bailed out of the Costa Rican jungle set of the idiotic "I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!"
Stephen Baldwin says he left the show over the weekend because he received more than 125 insect bites in eight days.
Costa Rican insects joyously proclaimed, "Ha! Our plan worked." *
Daily News wire services contributed to this report.