CBS Announces New Guidelines After 'Survivor' Misconduct Allegations
By Liz Calvario
Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images
CBS is speaking out following weeks of controversy on Survivor: Island of the Idols.
After Dan Spilo apologized to fellow contestant Kellee Kim amid allegations that he inappropriately touched her, the network released a lengthy statement on Tuesday, explaining that they would be implementing new rules and regulations.
"Season 39 of Survivor has been unprecedented for all of us, with important social issues and inappropriate individual behavior intersecting with game play in complex ways that we’ve never seen before. During the course of the production, we listened to the players intently, investigated responsibly and responded accordingly, including taking the unprecedented step of removing a player from the game," the statement begins. "At the same time, we are responsible for the final outcome of this season. We recognize there are things we could have done differently, and we are determined to do better going forward."
Explaining that Survivor has a "20-year track record of a strong support system on locations and after production," the network said that it continues to evolve and respond to every situation that comes up and player that has concerns.
"We will take the important lessons we learned from this season and adopt new protocols and procedures for future seasons, to ensure that the events that occurred this season are not repeated," it continues, saying that for the following season that has already been filmed they added "specific guidelines regarding personal space, inappropriate behavior, and how to report these issues."
"For Seasons 41 and beyond, the producers are reviewing all elements of the show to further support appropriate interaction, including how the players live during, as well as after they are eliminated from, the competition," the statement reads. "The show will also take additional steps to enhance procedures for training, reporting of issues and prohibited forms of game play."
The new measures that CBS is implementing include, but are not limited to, adding an extra on-site professional "to provide a confidential means of reporting any concerns, so that the production can address them promptly apart from the game. The full range of reporting processes will be communicated clearly to the players during pre-production orientation. The new executive will add to a support system that already makes mental health providers available to players on location and after they leave the island."
"The show will enhance its pre-production orientation with new anti-harassment, unconscious bias and sensitivity training for cast, producers and production crew on location. A new rule will be implemented stating unwelcome physical contact, sexual harassment and impermissible biases cannot be brought into the competition and will not be permitted as part of gameplay. This will be covered in the cast orientation for each season, along with clear instructions on how to report violations."
Survivor will also partner with a third-party expert to "review, evolve or add to these new policies and procedures going forward."
"In addition, CBS Entertainment will develop appropriate enhanced policies and procedures equivalent to the new Survivor measures and adapt them for the network’s other reality programming going forward," the statement concludes.
During a previous episode of the reality show, Kim raised concerns that Spilo was being too touchy and had claimed that he invaded her personal space, and said that she asked him multiple times to stop. In a rare moment for the CBS show, producers broke the fourth wall and told Kim that Spilo was given an official warning.
Two other female contestants, Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel, also said they felt uncomfortable with Spilo's behavior but later admitted they exaggerated their own allegations as a strategy to win. Nevertheless, Spilo did apologize at the Tribal Council for his behavior, noting that he was "horrified" if anybody ever felt "uncomfortable" with his actions though that wasn't his intention.
After the show ended, a title card read: "Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player."
On Tuesday, Spilo also broke his silence and apologized to Kim for making her uncomfortable. Kim also responded to Spilo, tweeting, in part, "I truly hope that some of this self reflection is real and that Dan changes his behavior going forward. For me, this statement only underscores the responsibility of CBS and Survivor to take action to prevent anything like this from ever happening again in the future. #Survivor."