Multiple Emmy winner presides over revival of NBC game show
A familiar game show is ready-made not only for new host Jane Lynch, but also for the times we’re in.
Social distancing is built into the “Weakest Link” set, so contestants answering general-knowledge questions needn’t worry about getting too close when a new edition of the NBC competition premieres Tuesday, Sept. 29. “Glee” alum Lynch — who won two of her five Emmys for hosting the network’s “Hollywood Game Night” — succeeds the 2001-02 “Link’s” Anne Robinson (who also presided over the original British version) in getting caustic with players and booting the one who’s deemed most expendable by saying, “You are the weakest link. Goodbye.”
“We’re tough on people, but there’s always a wink in it,” the friendly Lynch reasons. “It is fun to take people apart for not knowing the answers to some pretty high-reference-level questions. It’s not Simple Simon here; we’re talking history and literature and astronomy, so it’s much more challenging than a contest to be sexiest man of the year is.”
Lynch comes to “Weakest Link” having been a fan of its earlier NBC run: “I loved it, and it was right at the beginning of the whole reality-TV thing. You’d have contestants who got angry, and it would build up the drama. We’re doing the same thing, but of course, 20 years has passed. It’s more tongue-in-cheek, but it’s still pretty cutthroat.”
Musing that her persona and the “Weakest Link” host role are “the perfect marriage,” Lynch has toyed with the show’s signature phrase. She notes that she has her “own little thing going on with it,” changing up the “Goodbye” a bit to suit her own purposes, but she admits that she was “a little nervous” saying it the first time. “Will it be realistic? Will I be trying to imitate (Robinson)? I’m basically just being myself doing it, though.”
Though Lynch also has signed to lend her voice to an animated “Harriet the Spy” series for Apple TV+, she’s grateful that “Weakest Link” — on which she’s also an executive producer — is giving her work at a pandemic-impacted time when many entertainers aren’t sure when their next jobs will come.
Adding that “Hollywood Game Night” isn’t necessarily over (“though we won’t be able to do it on the set for some time”), Lynch maintains “Weakest Link” still plays “really well. We’ve been working on this since November of last year, when we weren’t even thinking about a pandemic. And when that happened, we were like, ‘Yeah, we can still do this.’ We have amazing safety protocols that the BBC (the British network that’s also among the show’s production entities) insists on, so we’re going to be really safe.”