HBO, NBC top Peabody Awards


NEW YORK --- HBO and NBC led the pack at the 66th annual Peabody Awards ceremony Monday, HBO with five nods and NBC with four.

NBC, as host and employee Bob Costas noted, won more Peabodys this year than any broadcast network in over a decade. The peacock was recognized for series "The Office," "Scrubs" and "Friday Night Lights" and a "Dateline NBC" segment which followed a middle-school teacher in Atlanta.

HBO won awards for its film "Elizabeth I" and documentaries "Baghdad ER," "Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer," "The Music in Me" and "When the Levee Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts," Spike Lee's film about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Lee provided an emotional moment as he accepted his award.

"People still catch hell in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast," he said. "They're still up the creek with no paddle, abandoned by local, state and federal governments. We can't forget them."

ABC also had a strong showing, winning three awards. The network was honored for "Ugly Betty," a special report titled "Out of Control: AIDS in Black America" and Brian Ross' ABC News investigative report on Representative Mark Foley and his inappropriate instant messaging with young male pages.

In his acceptance speech, Ross thanked Foley and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for creating an environment that "allowed investigative reporters to flourish."

CBS took home an award for Ed Bradley's "60 Minutes" report on the Duke rape case. Producer Michael Radutzky accepted the award for Bradley, who died in November, and said he would have been "so proud and so honored" if he were there to accept it.

For the most part, Costas kept the proceedings, which took place during a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, lighthearted and breezy. In a reference to NBC's ratings struggle, he joked that NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker, who was in attendance, had told him he doesn't "give a damn about ratings. He only cares about critical acclaim and prestigious awards." Costas continued, saying this philosophy will serve Zucker well when he takes over at C-Span.

The acceptance speeches, limited to 30 seconds, were also a source of amusement. "Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence interrupted Costas after his speech ended because he forgot to thank his wife, actress Christa Miller. After an early speech ran long, Costas quipped: "We want to get to those notoriously wild Peabody afterparties. Last year one went on to 5:30 in the afternoon."

All the winners, honored for "distinguished achievement and meritorious service," were announced in April by the event's organizer, the University of Georgia.
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