A kinder, gentler host for `Weakest’

Dec 31, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Anne Robinson is the brittle but nonetheless tough backbone to the NBC network’s “Weakest Link.” So the pressure is on George Gray to carry the new syndicated version of “Link” and not be, well, the weakest link of the show.
He sticks to a Robinson-esque all-black wardrobe on the set and slings off zingers to contestants, but Mr. Gray is a relative unknown, best remembered for hosting The Learning Channel’s “Junkyard Wars.” He’s far from attaining Ms. Robinson’s robust status among viewers.
But even as all eyes will be on him, because NBC’s fledgling syndication division needs “Link” to be a breakout hit, Mr. Gray says, “Bring it on!”
As far as how he will handle the inevitable comparisons between himself and Ms. Robinson, he said, “The best answer that I can give you is that we’re just different. I don’t hope to be better than Anne. She’s a pop icon. I wouldn’t be talking to you if it wasn’t for Anne.”
Besides, NBC executives insist that Mr. Gray be his own person. He believes the reason he nabbed the hosting gig was because he made no attempt to copy Ms. Robinson’s personality. Mr. Gray said he’s putting his stand-up roots to work, bringing more of a comic edge to the show. In contrast to the fire pit to which Ms. Robinson often subjects players, Mr. Gray says he’s looking to do more of a lighthearted Dean Martin roast with the syndicated “Link.”
“We’re going to be on five days a week, so I need to be more accessible,” he said. “I like busting people, and I’m not going to let people off the hook, but at the end of the day I want everyone to feel happy.”
Of course, viewers haven’t yet had the chance to judge Mr. Gray’s style. But he thinks people will come around to him on “Link.” “I’ve seen a lot of TV shows. And I can say that I am proud of this one. If you stand behind what you do, then you don’t have to worry about anything.”