The very idea that tonight’s Emmy showcast on NBC was so scripted-in-stone that neither the network nor host Conan O’Brien could change a word of the broadcast opener, or decide not to show it altogether and substitute another skit crafted at the last minute, is absurd. After all, isn’t that the reason Hollywood pays writers for these awards shows? C’mon, couldn’t one executive or producer, much less Conan or the television academy that puts on the Emmys, pipe up and say, “Uh, maybe starting with a plane crash comedy skit on the same day there was an actual plane crash might be in poor taste? Let’s rewrite.” But, noooooooooo. Now the NBC affiliate general manager at the Lexington, Kentucky, site of today’s tragedy says he was “horrified” by NBC’s callousness. “We wish somebody had thought this through. It’s somewhere between ignorance and incompetence.” So I ask: Will someone get fired for this? Host Conan riffed off the ABC’s series Lost which was all-but-ignored by the Emmies by starting the ceremony with a filmed comedy bit in which O’Brien was seen sipping champagne aboard a jetliner. “What could possibly go wrong tonight?” he says — before the plane crashes onto an island resembling the one in ABC’s drama. Today, in Lexington, Kentucky, commuter jet Delta Comair Flight 5191 mistakenly trying to take off on a runway that was too short crashed into a field Sunday and burst into flames, according to media reports, killing 49 people and leaving the lone survivor — a co-pilot — in critical condition. Really, is there even one person at NBC with a brain left in his head?
Understandably, the NBC affiliate in Lexington, WLEX Channel 18, was shocked and dismayed by NBC’s Emmy broadcast opener. According to news reports, the Lex 18 News was just ending a recap of the crash coverage when the station saw the Conan plane spoof skit come over the live feed. WLEX’s president and general manager, Tim Gilbert, was home watching the telecast with his family and would have pulled the plug on the Emmy broadcast if only NBC network execs had had the sense to warn him ahead of time. “It was a live telecast — we were completely helpless,” Gilbert told the local newspaper. “By the time we began to react, it was over. At the station, we were as horrified as they were at home.” Gilbert said he’ll complain to NBC, but he said an apology won’t make up for insensitivity. “They could have killed the opening and it wouldn’t have hurt the show at all,” Gilbert said. Here’s the video of the poor taste skit if you missed it.