“A Time to Kill” won best picture and Whitney Houston (“The Preacher’s Wife”) and Denzel Washington (“Courage Under Fire”) received top movie acting honors at the NAACP Image Awards, honoring the media for positive portrayal of African-Americans.

Houston won two other awards for “Preacher’s Wife,” one as outstanding gospel artist (along with the Georgia Mass Choir) for the movie’s soundtrack, and another for outstanding album. Washington also won as entertainer of the year.

The awards, held Saturday at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, also honored CBS’ “Cosby” with two honors, one for best comedy series and another for Phylicia Rashad as best actress in a comedy series. Jaleel White (“Family Matters”) was named best actor in a comedy series.

The event came one day after the Beverly Hills/Hollywood chapter of the NAACP and other groups publicly lashed out at UPN, WB and Fox, charging that shows such as “Homeboys From Outer Space” and “Martin” contain negative stereotypes and portray blacks as buffoons.

Little stir

Yet the local chapter’s attack on the shows caused little stir at the awards, even though “Martin” was a nominee in several categories. (It didn’t win.) Rashad, whose series was among those praised by the local chapter for showing positive images, said of the criticism of other shows: “In America, everyone is allowed their own opinion.”

Babyface and Toni Braxton were named outstanding male and female artist, while Kirk Franklin and the Family were named outstanding duo or group.

“A Time to Kill” picked up another honor for Samuel L. Jackson as supporting actor, and “Preacher’s Wife” won a supporting honor for Loretta Devine.

Special awards

Special honors went to Bryant Gumbel, who won the President’s Award; Aretha Franklin and George Clinton, who received Hall of Fame Awards; Prince for special achievement; Jim Brown, the Jackie Robinson Award; William C. Brooks of General Motors, the corporate award; and Image Award chairman Joseph Madison, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Dick Gregory, the Chairman’s Award.

The other winners:

Youth actor/actress — Brandy, “Moesha”

Drama series — “New York Undercover” (Fox)

Actor, drama series — Malik Yoba, “New York Undercover”

Actress, drama series — Della Reese, “Touched by an Angel”

TV movie/miniseries — “America’s Dream: The Boy Who Painted Christ Black” (HBO)

Actor, TV movie/miniseries — Wesley Snipes, “America’s Dream.”

Actress, TV movie/miniseries — Cicely Tyson, “The Road to Galveston.”

Daytime drama — “The Young and the Restless” (CBS)

Actor, daytime drama — Kristoff St. John, “The Young and the Restless”

Actress, daytime drama — Victoria Rowell, “The Young and the Restless”

Variety series/special — “Celebrate the Dream: 50 Years of Ebony” (ABC)

Performance, variety series or special — Patti LaBelle, “The 1996 Essence Awards”

News, talk, information series/special — “BET News Special: Ron Brown, A Celebration of Life”

Youth of children’s series/special — “Teen Summit” (BET)

Literary work, fiction — “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” by Terry McMillan

Literary work, nonfiction — “Don’t Block the Blessings: Revelations of a Lifetime” by Patti LaBelle, with Laura B. Randolph

Literary work, children — “Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue With Today’s Youth” by Rosa Parks, with Gregory Reed

New artist — Kenny Lattimore, “Kenny Lattimore”

Rap artist — LL Cool J, “Mr. Smith”

Jazz artist — Quincy Jones, “Q Live In Paris (Circa 1960)”

Musicvideo — “I Believe I Can Fly,” R. Kelly, directed by Hype Williams

Song — “I Believe I Can Fly,” R. Kelly, artist and songwriter