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NBC: Not bad for a down year

Net had its best showing in years with six wins

NBC execs sitting in the Shrine Auditorium audience had reason to cheer at this year’s Emmy Awards — even as their network served as the butt of jokes.

The Peacock aired this year’s kudocast, and although there’s no hometown advantage in Emmy voting, the net had its best showing in years with six wins — capped off by top comedy series honors for “The Office.” Net collected 14 awards total, including last week’s Creative Arts Emmys.

“This was another jolt in the arm for the network,” NBC Universal TV honcho Jeff Zucker said. “(We’ve) had a good summer. … There’s continuing momentum at NBC.”

Good news has been tough to come by as of late at the network. NBC ended last year for the second consecutive season in fourth place — a point Emmy host Conan O’Brien reminded viewers of at the start of the Emmycast.

“Since I hosted four years ago, NBC’s fortunes have changed,” O’Brien quipped. “You see, back then, we were the No. 1 network. Now we’re in the top five.”

O’Brien then jumped into a song-and-dance number sung to the tune of “The Music Man’s” “Trouble” — but with lyrics rewritten at the Peacock’s expense.

“Yes, we got trouble right here at NBC, with a capital T, which rhymes with G, as in ‘Gee, we’re screwed,'” he crooned. “To prove things have gone to hell, we’re relying on Howie Mandel.”

As for Zucker, he said the win for “The Office” — which was near cancellation just a year ago — was especially gratifying.

“(It) was particularly a win for (NBC Entertainment prexy) Kevin Reilly at the network and (NBC U TV Studio topper) Angela Bromstad at the studio,” he said. “It had six episodes in its first season, and there were many questioners and doubters.”

Emmy wins don’t necessarily translate into ratings points, but the net’s Sunday night tally — second only to HBO’s usual domination — could serve as a rallying point for NBC as it heads into fall.

And Zucker said he took O’Brien’s jokes in stride.

“We all go through troubling times, as Conan said,” he said.

NBC’s wins also included two for freshman darling “My Name Is Earl” (writing and directing for a comedy) and “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay’s win for lead drama actress.

Several of the Peacock’s wins, though, came for shows that are already off the air: Megan Mullally’s supporting comedy actress win for “Will & Grace” and Alan Alda’s prize for supporting drama actor (for “The West Wing”).

The night was also successful for NBC cable sib USA, which scored another lead actor in a comedy Emmy for “Monk” (adding to his 2003 and 2005 wins).

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