CBS & ‘Survivor’ Announce New Guidelines Following Misconduct Allegations

Robert Voets/CBS

Survivor will wrap its 39th season with a pre-taped finale episode Wednesday, a departure from its usual live format due to the sensitivity surrounding expelled contestant Dan Spilo and his alleged misconduct.

Earlier in the season, contestant Kellee Kim revealed her discomfort surrounding some of Spilo’s behavior, claiming he touched her inappropriately. Video from behind the scenes revealed Spilo tucking hair behind Kim’s ear without invitation, among other things.

At the time, Spilo was allowed to continue with the show under warning that any further misconduct would mean an immediate exit. In last week’s episode, this turned out to be the case, when the manager and producer reportedly was inappropriate with someone on the crew.

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The contestant had previously been put on notice as players accused him of touching them without permission.

CBS and Survivor released the following statement on the matter:

“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.

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.

Survivor has a 20-year track record of a strong support system on locations and after production. It is also a show that continues to evolve, as we respond to what we learn from every new situation and every player. 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.”

Missy Byrd and Kellee Kim (Credit: Robert Voets/CBS)

Spilo released his own statement the same day, saying, “I truly regret that anyone was made to feel uncomfortable by my behavior. In my life, I have always tried to treat others with decency, integrity and kindness. I can only hope that my actions in the future can help me to make amends and show me to be the kind of father, husband, colleague and friend that I always aim to be.”

(Credit: Robert Voets/CBS)

In terms of where the game will go moving forward, it was revealed that for pre-production on Season 40 — which already wrapped — the cast went over specific guidelines when it came to the handling of personal space, what’s appropriate and not, and how to report issues if they have any.

For future seasons, producers are re-evaluating the show’s elements and how to promote appropriate interactions between players. Along with these steps, the show will continue to implement training, procedures on reporting issues and inappropriate game play.

(Credit: Robert Voets/CBS)

Production will reportedly add an additional on-site professional for players to provide confidential information or concerns regarding their experience. Through this additional professional, production can address and major issues and players will learn how to report problems in their pre-production orientation.

Anti-harassment, unconscious bias and sensitivity training will also be part of the pre-production orientation, giving players vital information.

(Credit: Robert Voets/CBS)

Unwelcome physical contact and sexual harassment will not be tolerated in the competition, nor be permitted as part of game play. This rule will be reinforced during player orientation as well.

A third-party will observe the revised rules in play, offering any additional amendments for the show moving forward, while CBS Entertainment will look into including these new guidelines into their other programs.

Survivor, Season 39 Finale, Wednesday, December 18, 8/7c, CBS