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When Horrific Breaking News Ruins A Good Joke: Conan O'Brien's Unfortunate Emmy Intro / Jossip
When Horrific Breaking News Ruins A Good Joke: Conan O'Brien's Unfortunate Emmy Intro
— Mon, Aug 28, 2006 —

That was a clever little Emmy intro Conan O'Brien had last night, huh? Incorporating Emmy embarrassment Lost, popping in on The Office, interrupting a 24 call, having Hugh Laurie resurrect his House role before the fall season kicks off, showing up with Tom Cruise for an animated South Park snippet, and popping in on Chris Hansen's To Catch a Predator child porn kitchen — all very creative and amusing stuff. Of course the entire plot sequence kicked off with his flight to L.A. going down, which would've been a wildly entertaining lead in to this flat Mel Gibson joke, if it weren't for this bit of breaking news yesterday:

49 Die in Kentucky Crash as Jet Takes Off From Wrong Runway [Ian Urbina and Amanda Van Benschoten, NYT]

Read More: Conan O'Brien, Emmys, Top


No. 1
Michelle says:

Your right....I about died when I saw the opening, but WTF were they going to do???? Talk about "bad timing".

August 28, 2006 2:24 AM
No. 2
Pete Carr says:

The segment mocking a very real problem of online predators was in bad taste also. It demonstrates that the intention of the Dateline NBC series was not to inform, but to be entertainment.

Chris Hansen hits a new low.

August 28, 2006 1:54 PM
No. 3
Todd Jackson says:

I really don't think it's insensitive - the intention here is to parody Lost, not any recent grief. I think people should generally not get offended for other people here. But I also think the sketch could have worked with just Conan crawling out of the ocean. We all know how they got to the Lost island - why show it?

August 28, 2006 5:55 PM
No. 4
hilary says:

I agree w/ Todd.... I live in Lexington and the news cut from familys crying right to a plane going down it was a little harsh

August 28, 2006 6:19 PM
No. 5


August 28, 2006 7:48 PM
No. 6
Kim says:

I think it's wrong to expect NBC to edit a pre-Emmy gag just b/c there was a plane crash in Kentucky. Lives were lost and it's a horrible thing, but it's not a 9/11 scale tragedy (to use an example). Let's face it, it was a small commuter plane and the media would've treated it differently had it been a 747. I can tell you, living on the West Coast, it didn't create that much of a blip on the local news here. Perhaps the one thing NBC is guilty of is not contacting their affiliates in Kentucky to let them know what Conan's spoof was.

August 28, 2006 8:03 PM
No. 7
Cady says:

you can't put the blame entirely on NBC... why dun u say that it was the pilot's fault for flying the plane off the wrong runway or for wateva reasons, causing the tragedy.. and think about the hard work NBC has put in for the Emmy's. It's predestined to be like this...

August 29, 2006 2:19 AM
No. 8
Antoine Pancakes says:

My father died suddenly a month ago, and for the first two weeks I would get upset if I saw a father and daughter or father and son walking down the street.

However, I would not insist in the name of sensitivity to my recent loss that they walk 10 feet apart from each other.

I thought the Conan segment was funny as hell, I can understand why people who lost loved ones in the flight would be shaken up by the segment, but I don't think they made the wrong decision by airing it. O'Brien gets into the luggage compartment---funny. No crash is shown; it's tasteful. And not cruel---and not intended as such.

August 29, 2006 9:04 AM
No. 9
Joe says:

Newspapers regularly pull airline ads just after a crash, foregoing significant revenue. However, I think this is overreacting. Bad things happen, life goes on.

August 29, 2006 10:12 AM
No. 10
Joyce says:

The Emmy intro may not seem insensitive on the West Coast, but it was appalling here in Kentucky. Surely with communications as sophisticated as they are now, NBC could have told the local affiliate what was coming so the intro could have been pre-empted here at least. That would have been the thoughtful course of action. I don't think grief-stricken communities should be expected to shrug off ill-timed jokes. It's a global village, and courtesy must be extended far and wide.

August 29, 2006 10:54 AM
No. 11
Mick says:

This strikes me as another case of Americans overreacting to something that was designed as a piece of comedy first and foremost.
YES, there was a plane crash shortly before this aired, and yes, it showed Conan in a plane that was experiencing extreme turbulence. What it didnt show though was a plane crashing, or people dieing. Plus, it was designed obviously as a joke about Lost, and I'm sorry to say it, but if people cannot handle seeing something like this which is a plain attempt at comedy (a good one I might add), there is little hope left for the human race. How damn PC do we have to be these days so we don't offend anyone? It's getting ridiculous.

And as far as the grief stricken communities, I ask the question, if they were so grief stricken, what were they watching an Awards show for? Wouldnt they be in the process of mourning their loved ones, or gathering together as a family in their time of sadness?

Jesus, some perspective on these matters would go a long way people. Of course it was terrible that a plane crash happened and people died, but there is no need to censor comedy that may be not politically correct, or ill timed for a group of people. Trust me, seeing a brief shot of an obviously staged mock crash isn't going to make their grief any worse, assuming any of them saw it at all.

It's like stepping on egg shells ever since September 11, careful, dont want to bring up any bad memory about anything bad that ever happened.

August 29, 2006 1:26 PM
No. 12
Sandi says:

The Emmy opening was not a production they threw together at the last second to bring attention to the Kentuky crash, it was clearly a spoof of the many series being honored that evening.

Think of the time it took NBC to tape all the segments that went into the opening skit. This was months of work done well in advance and NBC, along with most other Americans cannot forsee the future.

As ill-timed as it may have been, I do not believe it's intent was to mock the unfortunate accident.
I am sorry for the loss of lives in the crash, it was horrible, but stop placing blame on the networks.

They are here to entertain us.

August 29, 2006 1:52 PM
No. 13
Joyce says:

It's a sorry world when it's considered too "politically correct" to quietly tiptoe around real grief. Maybe that's why Ann Coulter thinks she can call 911 widows publicity-seeking harpies and get away with it. Don't let NBC off the hook. TV is the medium people gravitate toward in their communal grief, and my understanding is the local affiliate had signed off with its local coverage of the accident right before going to network programming and its unfortunate spoof. It's myopic for Hollywood to ignore the effect of that segment on this community, particularly when a heads-up phone call to the local affiliate would have been so easy to make.

August 29, 2006 1:55 PM
No. 14
Mick says:

The fact that this is even being perceived as an issue is what boggles my mind. Perhaps if I had lost a loved one in a similar fashion, then saw something like this, I would be feeling the same way, perhaps not. Hard to say really. All I know is, if I had tuned into that program after having something like this happen, it would be plainly apparent to me that it was pure comedy, and it wouldnt worry me.
Maybe I can put up with more without getting offended, or maybe I'm a heartless bastard. You decide. But I know I'm not going to let unfortunate timing of an event like this tarnish what was a expertly funny comedy sequence.
Take that as you will.

August 29, 2006 2:04 PM
No. 15
Jane says:

I agree with Joyce. There is a startling lack of empathy demonstrated in most of these comments that consider it merely a matter of political correctness to question the decision to use a plane crash in a comedy sketch on the day of the worst U.S. aviation disaster in five years. I live on the West Coast, and was deeply saddened by the crash. My heart aches for the families and loved ones of those on the plane, and for the passengers whos lost their lives. I am wondering how other people can choose to not take such an event personally. Perhaps they would benefit from (re)reading For Whom the Bell Tolls, or a little Donne: "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. "
--John Donne, Meditation XVII . Empathy is perhaps the most underrated value in contemporary society; people's sense of entitlement and refusal to have their entertainment inconvenienced is weird and scary.

August 29, 2006 3:27 PM
No. 16
Rachel says:

As an individual who lives in Lexington, a few miles from where the crash occured and a mere block from where the family members gathered to grieve, and as an individual who knows families who lost loved ones in the crash I must say that comments such as "get a grip" and "it's not a 9/11 scale tragedy" are REALLY not helpful. First of all, you lose someone in a plane crash and see if you can just "get a grip"... that's the most ignorant thing I've heard yet. Secondly, I'm SO sick of hearing every d*mn major accident that happens in this country now compared to 9/11. No, it's not 9/11 scale but WHO CARES. To those individuals it's just as real and just as painful... heck it might as well be 9/11 to them because their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, etc... are DEAD!
That said, I understand that the show opening was a joke and I was not offended and in fact really didn't think twice about it, knowing that it was a "Lost" spoof. I also highly doubt that any of the victim's family members were watching the emmys that night. However, I do think that it would have been nice for NBC who'd been covering the story all day on their major stations (so definitely knew it was going on) could have warned the local affiliate... it would have been that easy and the problem wouldn't have occured.
Mostly though, I think everyone needs to chill out. The network apologized, so it's time to let it go.

August 30, 2006 1:14 AM
No. 17
Kim says:

I am wondering how other people can choose to not take such an event personally. Maybe b/c it didn't affect me personally. I didn't know anyone on the plane. Doesn't mean I don't empathize and have sympathy for the loss of life. When you read the newspaper or watch the local news, do you take EVERY story to heart and internalize it?

August 30, 2006 5:54 AM
No. 18
Briton Smetzer says:

Y'all are ridiculous. That was making fun of the movie Castaway...chill out.

December 25, 2006 4:36 AM

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