Peabody Awards fete NBC

Emcee Bob Costas keeps the mood light

Since both “Ugly Betty” and “The Office” were honored for excellence, the 66th annual Peabody Awards turned into Ben Silverman‘s first public walkabout as co-chairman of NBC Entertainment.

“This may be the first time the chairman of one network will accept an award for a show on another network,” he remarked in the green room before the show.

The Peabody jury is a serious group that generally favors serious topics, but emcee Bob Costas kept the mood light, dishing it out to NBC U topper Jeff Zucker, seated in the audience. The Peacock won four Peabodys, the most for any single network in a decade.

“He doesn’t care about ratings or profits — just awards and critical acclaim,” he joked. “No doubt he’ll be taking that philosophy to his next job as chairman of C-SPAN.”

When he accepted his two Peabodys, Silverman offered a rejoinder: “You work for me now, Bob.”

Spike Lee was on hand to accept an award for “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” a documentary that seemed destined to attract notice from the Peabody jury.

It also provided Costas with his biggest applause when he remarked that Lee managed to both shoot and edit his film for HBO before FEMA arrived in New Orleans.

On a serious note, Lee said the acclaim serves a useful purpose. “I’m grateful the film has achieved more notice; it keeps the people there from being forgotten,” he told Daily Variety.

Lee said he and HBO doc topper Sheila Nevins are planning a sequel. Working title? “Just Fix This Motherfucker,” he said.

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