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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 August 2006, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Emmys plane gag provokes apology
Conan O'Brien
The sketch began with Conan O'Brien onboard a private jet
US TV network NBC has apologised for a sketch in its Emmy Awards programme in which presenter Conan O'Brien was shown in a plane crash.

The pre-recorded clip was shown in the US on the same day that an air crash in Lexington, Kentucky killed 49 people.

"In no way would we ever want to make light of this terrible tragedy," the network said in a statement.

The show fared poorly in the ratings, with only 16.1 million tuning in - its fourth smallest audience.

Shown at the beginning of Sunday night's show, the sketch parodied the premise of hit TV show Lost by having O'Brien crash-land on a desert island.

Tim Gilbert, president of NBC's Lexington affiliate WLEX, said the station had been "horrified" by its inclusion following Sunday morning's accident.

'Unfortunate timing'

Only one person survived after a Comair CRJ-100 jet bound for Atlanta crashed shortly after taking off from Lexington's airport.

In its statement, NBC said the skit was "meant to spoof some of television's most well-known scenes". "The timing was unfortunate and we regret any unintentional pain we have caused," it continued.

Barry Manilow
Manilow postponed hip surgery to appear at the Emmys
The Emmys ceremony had been moved from its traditional September slot to make way for NBC's American Football coverage.

This, combined with the lack of nominations for such popular shows as Lost and Desperate Housewives, has been cited as a cause for its low viewing figures.

The Emmys had also attracted criticism over its nomination procedures in the light of revelations that actress Ellen Burstyn had been shortlisted for a performance that lasted just 15 seconds.

Last year's event, broadcast on rival network CBS, was seen by an average 18.8 million viewers.

  • Singer Barry Manilow has reportedly made good on a pledge he made at the Emmys by taking his award with him to hospital as a good luck charm.

    When collecting his prize for outstanding variety performance, the 63-year-old promised to have it beside him while he underwent hip surgery in California.

    According to his publicist, Monday's operation to repair cartilage tears in both hips went "swimmingly".

    The performer is now recuperating at his Palm Springs home and will be back on stage in October.

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