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'Lost' picks up Peabody

April 1, 2009 |  5:21 pm


NBC’s "Saturday Night Live," ABC’s "Lost," and the video-sharing website YouTube were among the eclectic list of winners announced Wednesday at the 68th annual Peabody Awards, which honors distinguished achievement and meritorious public service by media organizations and individuals.

The list’s diversity, which also included several HBO projects, CNN’s coverage of the presidential primaries and AMC’s "Breaking Bad," about a desperate man dealing meth, was further evidence of the awards’ reach beyond traditional television and media.

"The works...not only reflect great diversity of content and genre, but also true technical innovation and the varied roles of new distribution systems," said Peabody Director Horace Newcomb in a statement.

"Saturday Night Live," which savaged the presidential race — and Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin in particular — was cited for its sharp-edged and cutting humor: "The late-night legend stole the election-year thunder from its satirical competition on cable and may have swayed the race itself," according to a statement by the judges.

ABC’s "Lost" was a first-time Peabody winner that judges declared has "rewritten the rules of television fiction."

The drama’s executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, who were editing the season finale Wednesday, were thrilled with the honor. Cuse said he initially thought it was an April Fool’s joke after a phone call from ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson.

The duo were particularly grateful to be recognized for their time-travel scenario — a complex narrative line that required five weeks to realize instead of the usual two. "We wanted to work out all the ramifications and bolster that with the humanity of the characters," Cuse said.

HBO was cited for its historical miniseries, "John Adams" and for the show-biz comedy "Entourage."

Referring to the numerous other awards, including 13 Emmys and accolades won by "John Adams," executive producer Gary Goetzman said, "Who would have thought that a crotchety old president would have had this good a run? But the Peabody is really the icing on the cake."

"Entourage" executive producer Doug Ellin was ecstatic: "This is very unexpected. "We just really try to do a realistic take on what goes on here in Hollywood while still being entertaining. I’m more than surprised."

HBO was also honored for several documentaries, including "Hear and Now," about a deaf couple; "The Gates," on a Central Park art installation by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and "Nanking" about heroism and atrocities after the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.

Cable TV winners included Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Nickelodeon’s "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and ESPN’s "Black Magic."

PBS picked up awards for the documentary "Depression: Out of the Shadows," "Washington Week with Gwen Ifill," "Independent Lens: "King Corn," and "Mapping Stem Cell Research;" Ape Genius" from NOVA and National Geographic Television; and "P.O.V.: Campaign."

News divisions from NBC, ABC and CBS were honored. NBC won for its coverage of the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, and "The NBC Nightly News "Tip of the Spear," ABC News was cited for its documentary "Hopkins" and CBS’ "60 Minutes" won for its investigation, "Lifeline."

Local stations that won Peabodys included WWL-TV in New Orleans for "NOAH Housing Program Investigation"; WETA-TV in Washington, D.C. for "Washington Week with Gwen Ifill"; KLAS-TV in Las Vegas for "Crossfire: Water, Power and Politics," and KMGH-TV in Denver for "Failing the Children: Deadly Mistakes."

Other honorees included National Public Radio’s "This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money," "China: The Earthquake of Chengdu," and 36 Years in Solitary: Murder, Death and Justice on Angola," The New York Times website; and the Onion News Network.

--Greg Braxton

Photo: ABC