Peabody nods merit distinction

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NBC trio "The Office," "Friday Night Lights" and "Scrubs," ABC's "Ugly Betty" and the late Ed Bradley's investigation of the Duke rape case for CBS' "60 Minutes" are among the 2006 winners of the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards.

HBO received five awards Wednesday, including one for Spike Lee's documentary "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. It also won for "Elizabeth I," "Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer," "Baghdad ER" and HBO Family's "The Music in Me," about young musicians.

The NBC version of the famed British series "The Office" — which itself won a Peabody — was honored because it "firmly established its own precise voice and studied brilliance," according to Peabody judges. "Scrubs" was praised for its parody of "The Wizard of Oz," and the critically acclaimed but ratings-challenged "Friday Night Lights" was celebrated for its "clear-eyed" reality. "Betty" is "unmistakably graced with wry intelligence and heart," the Peabody judges said.

ABC News won two Peabodys, for Brian Ross' investigation about the Rep. Mark Foley scandal, and for "Out of Control: AIDS in Black America," which included some of the last interviews done by the late anchor Peter Jennings.

"Brian Ross' broadcasts and Web postings about Rep. Mark Foley's sexually explicit e-mails to young congressional pages triggered new revelations, speeded Foley's resignation and may have affected the outcome of the November elections," the Peabody judges wrote. Bradley's "60 Minutes" report on the Duke rape case was credited with "stopping a prosecutorial rush to judgment in its tracks," the judges said.

Other television honored included "Why We Fight" (an American-made documentary that appeared on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.); "Brotherhood" (Showtime); "The Education of Ms. Groves" ("Dateline NBC"); "Galapagos: Born of Fire" (BBC 2-National Geographic); "Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film," which appeared on "American Masters" (PBS); "For My Country: Latinos in the Military" (mun2); "Braindamdj'd … Take II) (CBC); "Boondocks: Return of the King" (Cartoon Network); "Gideon's Daughter" (BBC America); "Good Eats" (Food Network); "Beyond Borders: Personal Stories From a Small Planet" (Independent Film Channel); and "The Three Amigos HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme (SABC in South Africa, OMNI in Canada, SBS 6 in the Netherlands and WVM in Mozambique).

Local television was represented by WTNH-TV in New Haven, Conn., for "Defective Parts on Blackhawk Helicopters"; KMOV-TV in St. Louis for "Left Behind: The Failure of East St. Louis Schools"; WTHR-TV in Indianapolis for "Prescription Privacy/Cause for Alarm"; and WISH-TV in Indianapolis for "Command Mistake."

Also winning awards were two online projects, "Being a Black Man," from WashingtonPost.com, and four-minute citizen-created documentaries from the U.K.'s Channel 4 titled "Four Docs," as well as radio programs "Mental Anguish and the Military" (National Public Radio), "Crossing East: Our History, Our Stories, Our America" (Public Radio International), "This American Life: Habeas Schmabeas" (WBEZ, Chicago), "Crossing Borders" (Arizona Public Radio) and "StoryCorps" (NPR).

The awards, administered by the University of Georgia, will be handed out June 4 at a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan hosted by Bob Costas.
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