Kicking off an otherwise funny reel that found tuxedo-clad host Conan O'Brien racing to get to the ceremony while encountering characters in various TV shows such as "House" and "South Park," the producers marred the effect by retaining an opening bit that put the host in a realistic plane crash spoofing the one from the premiere of ABC's smash "Lost."
An NBC spokeswoman reached via e-mail Sunday night said executives were busy with the show and couldn't be reached for comment. But people close to the production said the introduction was taped and the crash scene couldn't be altered without destroying the entire piece.
Tim Gilbert, president and general manager of NBC affiliate WLEX-TV in Lexington, Ky.,% told the local paper he was "stunned" by the crash spoof and vowed to complain to network officials. "We wish somebody had thought this through," Gilbert said.
Other groan-inducing moments of questionable taste followed, with an evident sex fixation coursing around the Shrine Auditorium. Take, for example, Jeremy Piven, who seemed to be channeling Ari Gold, the profane agent he plays on HBO's comedy "Entourage." Taking home the prize for supporting actor, Piven mentioned that at the start of his Hollywood career years ago, an agent warned that he wouldn't really start getting acting work until he was in his 40s. "I thought, 'Do I become a fluffer?'." he told the crowd. "I was confused."
For the uninitiated, "fluffer" is slang for someone who prepares male porno actors for their scenes. The word has occasionally cropped up on prime time before -- including in at least one episode of UPN's drama "Veronica Mars" -- but this is the first known usage on the Emmys.
O'Brien himself got into the act, warbling a gag song that ridiculed his employer for lousy ratings. "Gee, we're screwed," he sang. At another point, he advised Web users they could "go back to surfing for porn."
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The off-color jokes kept coming even after Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert strode onstage with a tongue-in-cheek Bill O'Reilly-style greeting: "Good evening, godless sodomites!"
Will Emmy win lift 'The Office'?
Wow, NBC's "The Office" won the Emmy for outstanding comedy Sunday night.
This means ... well, something. Right?
Certainly it tosses some welcome creative validation to writer-producer Greg Daniels, lead actor Steve Carell and colleagues, who've bravely soldiered on with their loony satire of corporate life, even in the face of anemic ratings. "The Office" is indeed one of the best comedies on TV, although when the Emmy competition includes "Two and a Half Men," it's safe to say that our epoch is not to the sitcom what the Restoration was to stage comedy.
But, more important in the calculus of Hollywood, does this mean that "The Office" will finally turn into the slow-roasting hit that, say, Fox's spy drama "24" has become?
Here's an answer in two words: "Arrested Development."
You may recall that Fox's low-rated, critically acclaimed comedy about a loony Orange County clan won the Emmy for best comedy in 2004. The producers held hands with the network suits and waited for the surging influx of viewers who watched "Arrested's" Emmy triumph.
Two seasons later, they were still waiting.
"Arrested" had its swan song Sunday, losing out to "The Office" in the comedy category. The show was canceled earlier this year.
Carell, speaking to reporters backstage, preferred to stay optimistic that "Office" will avoid the same fate: "If the show runs for five or six years maybe we'll end up hating each other, but right now there's a lot of love going on."