NBC Apologizes For Emmy Opener, Then Streams Controversial Segment

Two days after expressing regret for the opening Emmys segment that mocked a plane crash but ran only hours after a real crash killed 49 in Kentucky, NBC yesterday continued to stream the video on its Web site. The video on NBC.com, with Conan O'Brien spoofing drama "Lost," was sponsored by retailer Target and General Motors' Saturn brand.

Target's sponsorship was a "pre-roll" spot on the stream, accessible through NBC.com's home page, while Target and Saturn both sponsored the video's availability in a series of "Emmy Highlights" on NBC.com's Emmy micro-site.

"We are looking into what we want to do going forward in terms of having an ad up there on the Web site," a GM rep says.

Target did not immediately return a call seeking comment. NBC did not provide any comment at press time.

The controversial video, which ran as the opening segment of Sunday's Emmy broadcast, featured the show's host, O'Brien, making his way to the stage by traveling through mock scenes from hit shows. Deemed insensitive by NBC after an uproar from the media and affiliates, the vignette began with O'Brien on a plane heading to Los Angeles. The plane then experiences turbulence and a champagne-sipping O'Brien and other passengers are suddenly tossed violently inside the doomed plane.



The next scene segues to the "Lost" send-up, with O'Brien emerging from the ocean and apparently stranded on an island reminiscent of the hit ABC drama.

Prior to the crash, a flight attendant asked O'Brien if he was nervous about hosting the show. "Nervous? What could possibly go wrong?" he responded.

The video, which was pre-recorded, caused a fury because it aired Sunday--the same day a commuter plane crashed in Kentucky. Only a pilot survived.

On NBC.com's home page yesterday, the video was billed as: "Conan fights his way to the Emmys in his Emmy Awards intro!" The segment was also staged among a series of "Emmy Highlights" videos on NBC.com's Emmy micro-site, which ran footage of Jeremy Piven and Mariska Hargitay accepting awards.

Pre-roll spots for Target ushered in the video in both locales, while Saturn's sponsorship on the micro-site was done via a banner ad.

The video was also available on YouTube yesterday. A call to a YouTube representative was also not immediately returned. On Monday, NBC expressed regret about the video's unfortunate timing in a widely reported statement that read, in part: "Our hearts and prayers go out to the many families who lost loved ones in the plane crash in Kentucky on Sunday, and to the entire community that has suffered this terrible loss. ... The filmed opening during the Emmy telecast was meant to spoof some of television's most well-known scenes. The timing was unfortunate, and we regret any unintentional pain it may have caused."

While there was some media criticism of the O'Brien spoof, The New York Times--whose reviewer may have been unaware of the Kentucky crash--applauded the opening, noting that "the high point of his opening monologue was a skit that had Mr. O'Brien supposedly seeking his way to the Emmys, wandering in his tuxedo through the sets of some of the season's top shows, including 'Lost.'"

Next story loading loading..