Opening Emmys sketch causes commotion

NBC said Monday that it’s sorry for any “unintentional pain” caused by a plane crash reference that opened Sunday’s Emmycast.

Opening sketch included a scene in which host Conan O’Brien finds himself on a crashing jetliner — a bit meant to parody the 2004 pilot for ABC’s “Lost.” Earlier Sunday, a commuter plane crash in Kentucky killed 49 people.

While it lasted barely 10 seconds and didn’t show any people being hurt, even the idea of TV showing a plane crashing was enough to send some critics into overdrive. Within minutes, the Drudge Report and some tabloid bloggers were blasting the segment, and the AP moved a story quoting the general manager of NBC’s Lexington, Ky., affil as saying he was “horrified.”

By Monday morning, some in the mainstream media jumped into the NBC bashing game. The Los Angeles Times gave prominent play to a column chiding the Peacock for the brief seg, while CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien — a former MSNBC anchor — condemned NBC on “American Morning.”

O’Brien called the segment “incredibly insensitive” and said NBC had “plenty of time to change” the seg.

NBC, which was silent on the matter Sunday, ultimately gave the Associated Press a predictable mea culpa.

“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,” NBC said in a statement published by the AP.

“In no way would we ever want to make light of this terrible tragedy. 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.”

Tempest illustrates the difficulties of live TV in the modern era, when even the smallest gaffe can quickly turn into a media firestorm if someone decides to criticize it. A blink-and-you-miss-it shot of “Office” thesp Mindy Kaling’s dress apparently slipping — and possibly exposing a portion of a nipple — was making the viral video rounds Monday as well.

There’s no word on whether the FCC had been called.

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