Survivor fans anxious to see former castaways Susan Hawk and Jerri Manthey claw each other's eyes out will have to cool their heels for at least another year. The much-talked-about championship edition — pitting the franchise's biggest stars against one another — won't happen until fall 2003 at the earliest.

According to CBS rep Chris Ender, a regular "average Joe" installment — not the all-star version — will follow Survivor: Thailand in the spring. "Survivor 6 will [feature] regular, soon-to-be-discovered Americans," he tells TV Guide Online. "The all-star Survivor is something that we're very interested in pursuing in the future — we're just not certain at this point when we're going to do it."

That said, Ender confirms that recruiting Richard, Tina, Colby, Rudy and Co. in time for next season was under consideration. The advantages for CBS are obvious: Survivor will likely face the fight of its life opposite the last season of Friends, which is expected to score record ratings as it builds toward its May swan song.

"The Friends factor had nothing to do with it," Ender insists, "but we did briefly talk about whether Survivor 6 was the right time to do it. But based on the success of Survivor: Marquesas and the interesting crop of people we will soon announce for Survivor: Thailand, we thought that going with regular Americans is the best route right now."

Of course, when it comes to counterprogramming Thursdays at 8 pm, the Eye Network may want to sit out the second half of the season. "Even a diehard Survivor fan might find it difficult to not bid adieu to Friends," says Mediaweek's Marc Berman. "After nine seasons in the top 10, Friends is going out with a ratings bang, and not even the power of Survivor can stop it."

For his part, Survivor producer Mark Burnett isn't staying awake nights worrying about how viewers will vote. "All I can deliver is a great show — and scheduling is CBS's problem," he says. "I stopped thinking about that kind of stuff during Survivor 2."