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Strengthening Weakest Link

Just like every other show, NBC Enterprises' Weakest Link,
hosted by George Gray, will spend November trying to push its ratings up a notch for the sweeps period. In an effort to do that, the show has planned three themed weeks of episodes and one special event.

Weakest Link's best national rating since its January debut was a 2.1 during May sweeps, when the producers put together two weeks of themed shows. One of the most popular was a week of "try-again" shows, in which the first contestants to be voted off got to give it another shot.

This time around, Weakest Link's producers are doing three themed weeks: Two of them, Big Money Week and College Week, are fairly self-explanatory.

The stranger one is Hard-at-Work Week when viewers will watch clowns, bodybuilders, firefighters, hairstylists and local radio deejays compete for the $100,000 prize. "We have a great contestant department," says Linda Finnell, senior vice president of programming for NBC Enterprises. "They will go anyplace they need to for a good clown."

There also will be a TV-trivia show, in which all the questions have something to do with television, an idea of which Finnell is particularly fond.

Over the past two weeks, Weakest Link
has registered a slight uptick in its national ratings, going from an average 1.6 rating/5 share to a 1.7/5, according to NBC Enterprises.

It also has seen strong ratings in some local markets. In New Orleans, for example, it averaged a 5.0 in October, a 92% increase in its performance in that market over last year. The show airs in the Big Easy at 6 p.m. on Fox affiliate WVUE(TV). In Indianapolis, Link
scored a 3.4 on ABC affiliate WRTV(TV) at 7:30 p.m., a 13% increase over last year. And in Knoxville, Tenn., the show's performance has jumped 433%, to a 1.6 from a 0.3. It airs in Knoxville on Fox affiliate WTNZ(TV) at 4:30 p.m.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.