Ex-Survivors to lock horns on “Link”

CBS has announced that castaways from the first Survivor will serve as contestants on NBC’s newest game show, The Weakest Link, which debuted Monday.

The ex-Survivors are perfectly free to appear on any network program, as long as the specific word “Survivor” is not used in the broadcast, according to CBS.

Ex-Survivors Richard Hatch, Gretchen Cordy, Sean Kenniff, Ramona Gray and Susan Hawk will compete on the show, which has already been shot, according to TV tabloid Access Hollywood.

Survivor winner Hatch is the first contestant to be voted off the show, which will be aired during the May ratings sweeps, Access Hollywood reports.

NBC did not return a call for comment.

Is the move to thrust Survivor members into NBC’s lineup a sign of desperation for the network? The Weakest Link contestant Cheryl Paige Baum, 22, who will appear on the show Tuesday night, said this is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

“But I’ll definitely watch,” the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., aspiring actress said. “It will be interesting to see if the same alliances are held. It’s rare to see a group of game-show contestants who know each other compete like this.”

Does Baum think the show will survive?

“It will have a great first year,” she said. “The first episode was brutally cruel, and people will tune into that.”

Michelle Hooper, the CBS director of primetime series publicity, has a similar take on the Survivors on Link.

“All of the Survivors are charismatic and comfortable in front of the camera, so I can see any and all of them succeeding,” Hooper said. “I don’t want to play favorites, but I think they all have potential. [CBS] casting directors pick people that you would want to spend your nights with.”

Still, the NBC/desperation question remains. In the reality TV/game show competition, NBC is losing badly this spring to Survivor: The Australian Outback and ABC’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Friends has never once beaten Survivor on Thursday nights, and Millionaire consistently trounces NBC programming on both Sunday and Tuesday nights, according to weekly Nielsen Media Research figures.

The Weakest Link airs weekly at 8 p.m. ET Monday nights on NBC. This week, it also will air 9:30 p.m. ET Tuesday and 10 p.m. ET Wednesday.