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‘Survivor’: CBS Adds New Guidelines Following Misconduct Allegations

CBS announced Tuesday evening that it will implement new policies and procedures following the ejection of “Survivor” contestant Dan Spilo amid misconduct allegations.

The Hollywood talent manager was removed from Season 39 of the unscripted competition series after several female contestants had expressed discomfort over his physical conduct — contestant Kellee Kim, notably, had directly asked Spilo to maintain a more appropriate distance from her. He was ultimately ejected following an off-camera incident that did not involve another player, according to CBS, which broadcast the change in a title card at the end of the Dec. 11 episode.

The network now “recognizes there are things we could have done differently,” according to a prepared statement.

Among the changes CBS is making, the company is adding an “on-site professional” to offer confidential means of reporting concerns, an “enhanced” pre-production orientation with anti-harassment, unconscious bias and sensitivity training for the cast, producers and production crew, and a new rule barring “unwelcome physical contact, sexual harassment and impermissible biases.”

Spilo shared a statement with People earlier Tuesday.

“I am deeply sorry for how my actions affected Kellee during the taping of this season of Survivor,” he said. “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. 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.”

The Season 39 finale airs Wednesday night, and for the first time in the show’s history, will be pre-recorded.

Read the full statement from CBS below:

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.

For Season 40, which has already filmed, the show added to its pre-production cast orientation 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 show will also take additional steps to enhance procedures for training, reporting of issues and prohibited forms of game play. The new measures to further support a safe environment include but are not limited to the following:

The production will add another 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.

The show will also partner with a third-party expert in the field 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.

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