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October 8, 2015

NBC expresses regret for Emmy plane crash skit

by Joel Keller, posted Aug 29th 2006 4:05PM
Conan O'Brien at the EmmysListen, I'm not an insensitive clod. I sometimes am among the screaming masses who think TV stations air things at inappropriate times; for instance, I didn't think premiering a show called The War at Home on September 11 was one of Fox's smartest moves last year. But for the most part, I think people just have to chill when it comes to things like this; it's hard enough for a TV producers to put out shows as it is wtihout having to capitulate to every person who might possibly be offended by something.

Which is why I'm not sure why NBC had to express regret for airing that Conan O'Brien "plane crash skit" at the beginning of the Emmys on Sunday, the same day a plane crashed outside of Lexington, KY. True, for folks in Lexington, the skit might have hit too close to home, considering some commenters to Bob's post about it said that the local NBC station went to the Emmys straight from 12 hours of plane crash coverage. But to the rest of the country, the only connection many people made to the scene was to the show Lost, which was Conan's and the producers' intention.

And, for folks who said that the sketch could have been removed with no problems, they're forgetting how complicated and expensive that sketch was: Conan was involved with cast members of Lost, The Office, and 24, as well as the folks at Dateline. If NBC should regret anything, it should be that they didn't give the local Lexington station a head's up about the sketch so they could join the Emmys in progress after the sketch aired.

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Remember, people in general are only sensitive to tragedy that is big enough to make the national media. "It was on tv! Therefore we must express our outrage!"

One of the running gags of the show was that they were going to suffocate Bob Newhart to death. Jon Stewart said, right on stage, "Tonight I'm going to kill Bob Newhart." They even joked about the call in vote with "52% of the people wanted you to live!" and Bob asking, "So 48% wanted me to die?"

Any complaints about that? Nope. Because nobody died from suffocation on yesterday's front page. But I'll bet you anything that if we'd had the recent mining tragedy (you know, where trapped people really did run out of air) this past week instead of a plane crash, people would have had a problem with it.

Me, I love Bob Newhart. "Wait...so....6% actually called in just to say they have no opinion?"

August 30 2006 at 10:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree that NBC has nothing to apologize about. And if you read their press statement, you can kind of tell that they don't feel they need to either. They expressed condolences to the families and friends connected to the tragedy, and said the timing was "unfortunate" and that they regret "any unintentional pain it may caused."

So technically, they're not saying "We're sorry we played that" or "We're sorry, we should have edited it." They're saying "We're sorry people were offended and felt bad about it." It's totally the "I'm sorry ... that you feel that way" apology. Awesome. Whoever wrote that press statement is a genius. Appease the people for the appearances' sake without actually meaning it, because you really don't know what you're apologizing about.

August 29 2006 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Skits cannot hit too close to home. They are skits. They are not directed at anyone in particular. They are just fake bits of real life. NBC, you are a coward for releasing any such statement. And NBC, while you are at it, I don't want to see any more car crashes in any of your shows because I live in Phoenix, and there are dozens of car crashes each day, and I can't bear to see that type of activity on TV any longer.

August 29 2006 at 10:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Life is full of tragedy, and if we try to appease every person, we're screwed. So if we lived in Ireland, we can't show a program where a clown happens by because one died under a flaming cage in front of a gaggle of kids during a live performance. Crap happens, its ugly, and we will all deal with it sooner or later. We cannot think about who is hurting about what every time we try to entertain everyone else. Political correctness sucks in every venue, even more so in the entertainment industry. And my opinion is not humble.

August 29 2006 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think a heads up to the local stations would have been more than enough. They could have joined in a minute late and still understood what was going on in the skit. The skit was brilliant and should not have been pulled. Conan did one of the best jobs as host of the Emmy's in years, bring him back more often!

August 29 2006 at 5:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Howard

I didn't think premiering a show called The War at Home on September 11 was one of Fox's smartest moves last year.

Are you kidding? That's even less inapproriate then this plane crash nonesense, if that's even possible. The show had absolutely no connection whatsoever to war, other than the word in the title. And September 11th doesn't really have much to do with the war we're fighting anyway. Get a grip.

August 29 2006 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What's next? Should VW issue daily apologies because their newest ad campaign includes car crashes which occur every day and are horrific for victims in them?

To quote Jimmy from South Park, "I mean, come on."

I was aware of the crash early that morning, but when the Emmy's started, it was pretty obvious that they were doing a take-off on Lost. It wasn't insensitive, it was funny.

August 29 2006 at 4:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with Joel 100%. I think anyone in those markets who is emotionally connected to the plane crash story was doing other things besides watching the Emmys. A heads-up to the local station might have been a good idea, but pulling the sketch would have been a phenomenally bad one. They were the most entertaining 5 minutes of the entire show. And considering the crash occurred on THAT DAY, removing something like that from a program as technically involved and planned as the Emmys would have been enormously difficult.

August 29 2006 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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