From 'Survivor' to 'Celebrity Deathmatch'

If it were really smart, CBS would up the ante on its hot new show. Our money is on Martha Stewart to outlast everyone -- in style.

Television

June 11, 2000|By Tim Goodman | Tim Goodman,SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER

No question about it. "Survivor," the new CBS game/freak show, is a treat for viewers. Strangers tossed together in a riot of stink, hunger, greed and fear. We should all be glued to the set every Wednesday until the bitter end.

But how great would it be if there were actual celebrities spending 39 days on that island, battling to be the last one standing in this cruelest of popularity contests?

Very great.

So we've drafted eight male and eight female celebrities employing the same philosophy CBS used with "Survivor" -- pick people who will quarrel and divide the viewing audience to make it more exciting. Here are our celebrity castaways and the odds of their surviving until the end:

* Tony Danza: Yeah, big surprise here. He'd turn the whole island into one boring sitcom about a single dad. But then again, he can box. And those awful shows of his did last a long time. Somebody likes him. (500-to-1 odds).

* Kathie Lee Gifford: Hmmm. Kind of a no-brainer on this one. She can allegedly sing. And making fun of her might make the time pass. On the plus side, she's vicious when pushed. And if natives were found on the island, she could whip up a sweat shop. (1,000-to-1).

* Billy Blanks: Oh, come on, you know: the Tae-Bo guy. Profoundly annoying and yet he's buff. He could get everyone in shape. You could kick-box some coconuts down from the trees. But he'd talk a lot. And fitness fanatics are wearisome. (200-to-1.)

* Diane Sawyer: Let's see now. Good looking. Sweet on the outside. Gives the impression that she cares and might be a helpful shoulder to cry on (provided she gets a close-up of your tears). But wouldn't all her false sincerity and bad interviewing be annoying? No prima donnas. (400-to-1).

* George Costanza: OK, technically not a real person. But the "Seinfeld" character has worst-nightmare written all over him. All the whining and complaining -- who could stand it? But nobody schemes more than George. He'd be very handy getting other people in trouble. (50-to-1).

* Britney Spears: It's just 39 days -- not a three-hour tour that takes 15 years. Nobody's procreating here. Her value, then? The singing is bad. She seems a tad spoiled. You know for sure that Kathie Lee's going take her out anyway. Plus, what physical work could she provide? Think with your brain. (300-to-1).

* Robin Williams: A real star. And he's a big burly guy who could haul logs and stuff. He's a runner -- people in shape count. Plus, he could make you laugh a lot. But what of the downside -- the Comic's Disease of never having an off button? Thirty-nine days of Robin being Robin. You'd be exhausted. (25-to-1).

* Ricki Lake: The beauty of a show like "Survivor" is that you rush to judgment and then find out your feelings have changed. See -- you thought Kathie Lee would be first off the island. No chance. Ricki has no redeeming value. She must go. (2,500-to-1).

* George Clooney: And now things get complicated. He's not just good-looking, he's great-looking. Worse, he's a nice guy. And he's athletic. On the other hand, you'd never win with him on the island. You'd have to get Costanza to get rid of him. (2-to-1).

* Roseanne: Wow. Now things are murky. She's been out of the limelight long enough to forget that she's Annoying Squared. But her voice would grate on you in the first few minutes. However, she could destroy Britney -- and the Tae-Bo guy for that matter -- so she has value. She goes early or stays late. (30-to-1).

* Christopher Walken: He's our team leader. He'd have no problem eating rats or taming snakes. And the others would fear him. But you'd never sleep, wondering if he'd cut your throat or just look at you a long time without saying anything. (20-to-1).

* Starr Jones: She's a lawyer, good at settling disputes (or starting them). She's smart, sassy, opinionated. Perfect person to get rid of immediately. Then again, she's not going without a fight. Work her last nerve, and she's likely to make Walken cry. A wild card. Watch your back. (75-to-1).

* Sean "Puffy" Combs: This guy builds empires. That's handy. Even on an island. He's famous despite being fairly mediocre. A better businessman than artist, he nevertheless dates Jennifer Lopez and that alone may be worth eight or nine nights of campfire stories. Plus, we know he carries a gun. Very valuable. (5-to-1).

* Martha Stewart: Ah, not so fast. People's knee-jerk reaction is to hate her for being perfect. But she's more valuable than the Professor on "Gilligan's Island." Not only could she cook up a mean rat-atouille, she could make the beach hut look fabulous. She's indispensable. Also, she'll win -- so you better try to vote her off quickly. (Even).

* Maury Povich: Conflict resolution, people. That's what it's all about. Jerry Springer can't put out a match, but Maury, he can change lives. Face it -- you're a living freak show, and he specializes in that. Then again, he's icky. And horrible. (100-to-1).

* Tori Spelling: All of a sudden Britney looks like the Virgin Mary. And think about this: Daddy's connected. Daddy's the electricity that lights up TV Land. Befriend her and you know there's a rescue copter coming over the ridge. Or at least the Love Boat will pull up. But if it doesn't come in 24 hours or sooner, forget it. (400-to-1).

Our pick for survivor: Martha, Queen of the Island.

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