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Emmy voters bring O’Brien back to NBC

Host returns for awards show on Aug. 29

Thanks to mischievous TV Academy voters, Conan O’Brien returns to NBC on Aug. 29.

The irony of ex-NBC employee O’Brien showing up on the Peacock’s Emmycast as a nominee for “The Tonight Show” was clearly too good for Emmy voters to pass up.

O’Brien scored a nomination while his “Tonight Show” predecessor and successor, Jay Leno, didn’t. That’s not a big surprise, however: As host of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” the host was a perennial nominee. Leno, on the other hand, has rarely scored Emmy attention in recent years.

NBC gets the credit for O’Brien’s nomination, but Turner ultimately receives the benefit. The cabler took out “for your consideration” ads on behalf of the host, who launches his new TBS talker in November.

“Congrats to my staff on four Emmy nominations,” O’Brien wrote on Twitter. “This bodes well for the future of ‘The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien.’ ”

O’Brien’s a long shot to win the category, which “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” has won since 2003. But as a source of vindication for the displaced O’Brien “Tonight Show” crew, the nomination already reps a victory of sorts.

“The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” wasn’t the only off-the-air program to score some Emmy love. Even though they’ve already said farewell to the island, TV Academy voters haven’t let go of “Lost.”

That’s a significant coup for the ABC fan fave. While most retiring dramas fade into the sunset with little Emmy love (witness how once-mighty Emmy titans “ER” and “NYPD Blue” bowed out with little TV Acad attention), “Lost” managed to go out with an electromagnetic bang.

The show pulled off 12 nominations this year, up from five last year. “Lost” matched its nom tally from its first season, when it surprised the biz by winning the drama prize.

“We don’t take this for granted, and the fact that the love was spread to (composer) Michael Giacchino, (director-exec producer) Jack Bender, the sound mixers and art direction is great,” said “Lost” co-creator/exec producer Damon Lindelof. “It’ll be cool to put on the monkey suits again and get together one last time.”

Besides drama series, “Lost’s” dozen bids include a lead actor nom for Matthew Fox and supporting actor bids for Michael Emerson (who won the category last year) and Terry O’Quinn (who won in 2007). Former regular Elizabeth Mitchell even sneaked in with a guest actress nom.

Other retiring series weren’t so lucky. “Law and Order,” which once prided itself on a decade-long streak of drama series noms, didn’t score a single nomination in its swan-song season on NBC. Fox’s “24” didn’t have much traction in noncraft categories other than the guest actor bid for Gregory Itzin.

“Ugly Betty” is gone without an Emmy trace, while CBS’ canceled “The New Adventures of Old Christine” scored two final noms — including one for star Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

USA Network’s now-departed “Monk” landed one more nod for perennial Emmy fave Tony Shalhoub. Two other defunct skeins — ABC’s “Flashforward” and CBS’ “Gary Unmarried” — pulled off noms in craft categories.

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