How CBS' Survivor Is Changing Procedures After Dan Spilo's Inappropriate Touching

Survivor Dan Spilo
(Image credit: CBS)

CBS has issued a statement on its plans to change official procedures after Survivor: Island of the Idols' multiple allegations against Dan Spilo. Survivor Season 40 already taped right after Season 39, and CBS explained ways Survivor immediately took action right after the fall 2019 season. The TV network also revealed plans for changing things for the new Survivor seasons taped in summer 2020, and noted the changes will also affect other CBS reality TV shows.

What Dan Is Accused Of Doing 

Hollywood agent Dan Spilo was removed from Survivor in the episode shown last week, before tonight's December 18 finale. Survivor fans were not shown what happened, but the screen read that he was accused of inappropriate touching off-camera, involving someone who was not a player.

According to People, in that incident, Dan Spilo touched a female Survivor producer's thigh as he was getting in a transport boat. That incident came weeks after Survivor fans saw Kellee Kim speak on camera about her discomfort from Dan touching her. It got complicated when two other castaways used Kellee's feelings about Dan to trick her into believing they would vote out Dan when instead they voted out Kellee. That led to backlash about using the #MeToo movement as strategy.

But Dan Spilo was allowed to continue in the game (including having his young son arrive for the loved ones visit) until he was removed after the alleged incident with the producer. Dan was removed after Elaine Stott's eviction -- so he made the final 6, but he's now not part of the final 5. He's not in the jury. He was even uninvited to the Survivor finale, which was pre-taped. (CBS should have found a way to edit around Dan's son once they knew Dan would be removed.)

Survivor Kellee Kim

(Image credit: CBS)

How CBS Changed Things For Survivor 40 

CBS issued a statement (via EW) saying Survivor 39 was "unprecendented for all of us," and during the course of production they "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. ... 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.

How CBS Will Change Things For Survivor Season 41 And Beyond 

CBS's statement continued into the future, planning for the seasons the producers expect to film in summer 2020. Survivor tends to film seasons back-to-back, airing the first in the fall, with the second in late winter/early spring. Here's more on the plan going forward, from the statement:

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...

That's when CBS listed its plans for enhanced training and experts on hand:

• 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.

CBS' Other Reality Shows Will Also Change

CBS' statement noted that the changes going into effect will also be used across other reality TV shows -- including, presumably, for Big Brother and Love Island. (A Big Brother 2019 producer went through "unconscious bias" training after an incident over the summer.) As CBS wrote in its statement:

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.

Survivor Season 40, "Winners At War," is an all-stars season with previous Survivor winners battling out. It taped right after Season 39, and EW said several castaways from Season 40 confirmed they were spoken to before the game about the importance of personal space.

Survivor Season 40 premieres Wednesday, February 12 at 8 p.m. on CBS. Keep up with everything premiering in early 2020 with our handy TV schedule.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.