‘Survivor’ Announces ‘New Protocols and Procedures’ After Controversial ‘Island of the Idols’ Season

Cracking down. Changes are coming to future seasons of Survivor as the controversial Island of the Idols installment comes to an end.

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“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,” CBS and Survivor said in a statement to Us Weekly on Wednesday, December 17. “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’ Announces ‘New Protocols and Procedures’ After Controversial ‘Island of the Idols’ Season
‘Survivor: Island of the Idols’ cast. Robert Voets/CBS

The statement noted that the reality competition “has a 20-year track record of a strong support system on locations and after production,” and the team behind it “continues to evolve, as we respond to what we learn from every new situation and every player.” The show’s producers vowed to “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.”

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For the upcoming 40th season, which has already been filmed, Survivor said it “added to its pre-production cast orientation specific guidelines regarding personal space, inappropriate behavior and how to report these issues.” Producers are also “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” for seasons 41 and beyond, according to the statement.

The statement then listed new measures that Survivor and the network are taking “to further support a safe environment,” which include adding another on-site professional “to provide a confidential means of reporting any concerns” as well as implementing “new anti-harassment, unconscious bias and sensitivity training for cast, producers and production crew on location.” Furthermore, producers have instated a new rule stating that “unwelcome physical contact, sexual harassment and impermissible biases cannot be brought into the competition and will not be permitted as part of gameplay.”

Additionally, CBS promised to “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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The news comes after multiple Island of the Idols contestants, led by Kellee Kim, accused Dan Spilo of inappropriate touching. Producers issued a formal warning to Dan, 48, on day 22 of the season, although he remained in the game. However, on day 36, he became the first castaway in Survivor history to be ejected after what the show described as “a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.”

“I am deeply sorry for how my actions affected Kellee during the taping of this season of Survivor,” the talent agent told People on Wednesday. “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.”

The Survivor: Island of the Idols finale and reunion airs on CBS Wednesday, December 18, at 8 p.m. ET.

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