PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Strong PR propels 'The Weakest Link'

LOS ANGELES: The PR blitz behind NBC's latest quiz show, The

Weakest Link, has rendered even its publicist weak.



Deborah Thomas, NBC senior press manager, had a sore throat last week

after spending the past month connecting the show's nasty British host,

Anne Robinson, with the US media.



The Weakest Link debuted on April 9, bringing NBC its highest time slot

ratings for original programming since 1996, with 14.7 million people

tuning in.



The show has benefited from a massive PR onslaught, focused around its

shrewish British host.



On Wednesday, the New York Post put Robinson on the cover, under the

headline, ''Host From Hell' - TV's new 'Queen of Mean' is just as nasty

off screen.'



And an article in a British paper, picked up by US radio stations last

week, reported that Robinson had been assigned a bodyguard because of

the threats she had received. Not true, according to Thomas, but all

great publicity nevertheless.



The Post piece describes how Robinson told the paper's TV critic, Adam

Buckman, he was an 'old fart' and asked him if he'd learned shorthand

when he asked her to talk more slowly.



The paper then went on to stoke a trans-Atlantic media battle when

British journalists started writing about Robinson's treatment in the

US.



The show which originated on the BBC in the UK, has been promoted

heavily on-air by NBC with the press department raising awareness by

placing stories to The New York Times and the LA Times and getting the

winner of the first night's show on NBC's Today show.



There is, in fact, no escape from Robinson's irritating catch

phrase.



The NBC press department's voice-mail has even been programmed to

parrot: 'You are the weakest link, good-bye.'



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