NBC UNIVERSAL HONORED WITH THREE 2008 PEABODY AWARDS
NBC Sports Wins for the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony
"Nightly News" Wins for "Richard Engel Reports: 'Tip of the Spear,'" A Series of Reports from Afghanistan
"Saturday Night Live" Wins for its 2008 Political Satire
NEW YORK - April 1, 2009 - NBC Universal has been honored with three prestigious 2008 Peabody Awards. Receiving the awards were NBC Sports, "Nightly News with Brian Williams," and "Saturday Night Live." The announcement was made today by the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
"I'm thrilled to see NBC Universal recognized with three Peabody Awards," said Jeff Zucker, President and CEO, NBC Universal. "In this business, it's all about the content. The fact that we were honored in three distinct genres - news, sports, and entertainment - is a terrific credit to the quality of the work we do and the people who do it."
NBC Sports won for the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony. The Peabody organization called the broadcast "an exponential magnification of what was once known in television as a 'spectacular.'" The Beijing Opening Ceremony was crafted and choreographed by creative director Zhang Yimou, executive produced for NBC by Dick Ebersol, produced by David Neal, and directed by Bucky Gunts.
This marks the first Peabody Award ever won by NBC Sports and the first for an Olympics in 33 years. Previously, the 1972 Summer Games and the 1976 Summer and Winter Games had been honored.
NBC drew a record audience for the Ceremony. In the nearly 50 years of televised Olympics, NBC's coverage of the Opening Ceremony in Beijing was the most-viewed ever for a non-U.S. Summer Olympics, with nearly 70 million total viewers. It is estimated that nearly 2 billion people worldwide watched the Opening Ceremony.
NBC News' "Nightly News with Brian Williams" earned its award for a series of reports by Richard Engel from Afghanistan. Titled "Tip of the Spear," the Peabody Awards committee said: "Under fire at times, the war correspondent and his team produced an extraordinary series of reports from remote outposts in Afghanistan, making vivid and visceral the hardships and danger faced by American soldiers."
Engel was the correspondent for the series, Alexandra Wallace was the executive producer, Bob Epstein the senior broadcast producer and Mary Lawrence Flynn was the senior producer. Madeline Haeringer produced, Joo Lee, Beverly Chase, Michele Neubert and Matt Softley edited, and Bredun Edwards was the cameraman.
Including this award, NBC News has been honored with 25 Peabody Awards.
"Saturday Night Live" enjoyed a resurgence in ratings and popularity in 2008, averaging a 3.4 rating in adults 18-49. The show featured unique political satire as only "SNL" can do, capitalizing on the 2008 Presidential race. Ratings peaked on October 18, 2008, a telecast featuring an appearance by Vice Presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin, which generated a 6.4 rating in 18-49 and 16.8 million viewers overall. It was the show's highest 18-49 rating since September 24, 1994, and biggest overall audience since March 12, 1994. This marks the second Peabody Award for "Saturday Night Live," which also won the prestigious award in 1990. Now in its 34th season on NBC, "Saturday Night Live" is led by creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels.
NBC News' Brian Williams will host the 68th Annual George Foster Peabody Awards Ceremony on May 18 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.