NBC covers the Olympics with plugs


One gold medal can no longer be considered up for grabs at the Olympic Summer Games from Barcelona -- or maybe it should be tin: the award for Single-handed Outrageously Gratuitous Plugs.

And the winner is: Katie Couric of NBC.

Whew! On loan to the network's sports coverage from the "Today" program, the co-host (with Dick Enberg) of the morning coverage package seems to have been instructed to let no one remain uninformed where she usually plies her trade.

One morning, she offered greetings to "Today" co-host Bryant Gumbel. (After a critical roasting for his pompous co-anchoring of the 1988 Olympics, he is not involved in the Olympics coverage this year.)

Another time, we saw tape from a "Today" segment as a U.S. archer showed Katie how to target a bow and arrow, and we were dutifully informed the seting was "Today's" familiar "studio 4B."

Then there was yesterday's button incident.

Reporter Faith Daniels did a piece on the collecting of souvenir buttons, which ended with her offering to trade an NBC pin. The collector on camera said "go away."

Cut to the studio, where self-professed "pinphomaniac" Couric has displayed her own collection. And which pin got the longest, lovingest close-up? The NBC pin, of course. At least Couric admitted collectors feel the netowrk pin is worthless in trade because Barcelona seems flooded with it.

But to be fair, Couric also had a nice moment yesterday, as she interviewed a member of the U.S. women's basketball team. The player's son, oblivious of the network feed, wanted to give Couric a piece of fruit, and she nicely interacted with the boy as the interview continued.


VIDEO VENDING -- Speaking of outrageous plugs, cable's Arts & Entertainment network says it will release the video cassette of a new documentary production, "George Bush: His World War II Years," at the Republican National Convention this month in Houston, months before the scheduled Nov. 23 premiere on A & E.

Delegates to the Aug. 17-20 convention can buy the $19.95 cassette there, along with an earlier release of the network's "Biography: Ronald Reagan" profile.

The Bush video is based on the book of the same title by Robert B. Stinnett, who served with the president in the Pacific theater. Consumers can also order the video by calling (800) 423-1212.


WORTH WATCHING -- Everybody knows the story of the girl who kept a diary while hiding from the Nazis in World War II. In "The Attic: The Hiding of Anne Frank," at 9 tonight on cable's LIfetime network, the 1988 TV-movie tells the story from the point of view of the family which offered sanctuary. Mary Steenburgen stars as the real-life Miep Gies, who penned the book "Anne Frank Remembered."

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