Following reports that two Survivor contestants faked harassment complaints to get another contestant (who experienced real harassment on the show) kicked off, CBS has announced it will take steps to avoid instances of misconduct while filming. This includes the addition of an on-site professional and “anti-harassment, unconscious bias and sensitivity training on location,” according to People.
CBS began its statement by congratulating itself for investigating the incident on Survivor and “taking the unprecedented step of removing a player from the game.” The network then apologized for not having any protocol in place to protect its contestants prior to this announcement:
“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. 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.”
CBS further assured that “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.”
In November, CBS producers sat back as two Survivor: Island of the Idols contestants fabricated harassment complaints to get a third contestant, who sincerely reported harassment, Kellee Kim, kicked off the show. Perhaps worse than the flagrancy of using sexual assault as a strategy to win Survivor was the fact that it worked—Kim went home, and her harasser, Dan Spilo, was allowed to continue on in the competition. (Kim claimed he routinely touched her without consent, that he stroked her hair and wrapped his arm around her while she slept.) Last week, Spilo was removed from Survivor after a reported “undisclosed, off-camera incident” involving a crew member.
Spilo shared his own statement with People. “After apologizing at the tribal council when I first learned that Kellee still felt uncomfortable, I want to make sure I do so again, clearly and unambiguously,” he wrote. “I truly regret that anyone was made to feel uncomfortable by my behavior.”
In response, Kim questioned Spilo’s timing, writing on Twitter:
Tonight’s season finale of Survivor: Island of the Idols was pre-taped instead of airing live as originally planned, for “sensitivity and security concerns,” according to Entertainment Weekly.