It was only another self-congratulatory love-fest. No big deal. Awards shows are Hollywood’s version of bowing toward Mecca—they seem to occur five times a day while facing Jack Nicholson’s house and chanting, in unison, the most holy phrase: “who are you wearing?”

Hollywood always does a horrible job at hiding (when they even try) their disdain for “flyover country.” We’re used to snotty speeches from the lofty podium berating everything from the treatment of Native Americans, prattling on about the evils of George W. Bush and how we don’t give enough money to poor countries. There is some serious red-state hatred boiling in the Los Angeles and New York celebrity cult, and they’re not shy about letting it fly.

The 2006 Emmy Awards did the same, in a way. This time, the televised Freudian slip came from behind the scenes.

The Emmy Awards aired Sunday night, and the opening of the program featured a skit depicting what was supposed to be a parody of the show “Lost.” The problem for the network is that the sketch was complete with a plane crash at the beginning and subsequently featuring Conan O’Brien surviving the crash and reaching a desert island. Here’s a video of the skit.

This aired the same day that 49 people died in a plane crash in Kentucky. Kiefer Sutherland, Jon Stewart, Sarah Jessica Parker, Mariska Hargitay and crate-loads of Hugo Boss weren’t on the plane, so apparently the news didn’t reach California until Monday morning, if at all.

Was this just an unfortunate coincidence that was simply overlooked by producers? If we can honestly say that the Emmy producers would have aired the skit had the plane crashed in Los Angeles instead of Kentucky, then we can call it an unfortunate oversight. Sure. And Anna Nicole Smith’s baby will grow up well-adjusted.

Not only that, but had the plane gone down at LAX and been carrying, ::gulp:: — celebrities – not only would the crash skit not have aired, but the Emmys would have been cancelled, Inside Edition would have hit the air with wall-to-wall coverage, and Barbara Walters would have been on the phone immediately securing a weepy sit-down with Brangelina, who probably wouldn’t have known anybody on the plane, but damn if those two kids can’t bring home the ratings.

Wondering why the network decided to air the skit isn’t difficult. Frankly, Omaha could have been nuked that morning and the network suits would still have green-lit a parody of “The Day After.”

As far as the shallow glitterati is concerned, if it doesn’t happen in New York or L.A., it doesn’t matter. What will save the producers of the show is the converse: If it happens at the Emmys, most of the country doesn’t care.

That aside, Conan O’Brien helped keep the celebs in check. O’Brien warned that anybody who makes a heavy-handed political comment would be forced to ”make out with Al Gore in a Prius.” There was no heavy-handed political commentary. I think O’Brien’s on to something.

The jokes, opening sketch excluded, were funny—better at least than the awards part of the show. The focus though, the next day, was on the producers’ poor judgment/taste/disrespect in deciding to air the pre-recorded opening segment. In Hollywood, however, they’re probably still trying to figure out what was wrong with that.

When trying to figure out what Hollywood is thinking, it’s important to remember that were talking in some part about people who make millions of dollars a year and borrow their jewelry.

If anybody working for the network had noticed that the skit was probably a bad thing to televise given the circumstances of the day, I’d imagine some sort of apology could have been whipped up to read at the end of the show. After all, there were hundreds of writers in the building anxiously awaiting the reading of their name by a presenter—even though it’s hard to write with your fingers crossed.

In the opening monolog, in an attempt to end long-winded acceptance speeches, O’Brien showed the crowd Bob Newhart, who was supposedly in an airtight chamber, and announced that there was only three hours worth of air in there. “If the show goes over three hours, Bob Newhart dies.”

You can’t help but wonder. If Bob Newhart were replaced in that airtight chamber with some random American in Kentucky, would anybody have noticed or cared if the show went long?


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