Author: Andrew Weil (TEGNA)
As “Survivor” wrapped up its 39th season on Wednesday night, host Jeff Probst issued an apology and acknowledged the show should have handled concerns about a contestant’s inappropriate behavior differently.
“You were right,” Probst said to contestant Kellee Kim during the reunion show portion of the evening. Kim complained multiple times during the competition about fellow contestant Dan Spilo’s inappropriate behavior and inappropriate touching.
“You were right to speak up. You were right to step forward despite a lot of risks. And to speak your truth. And I want to acknowledge and apologize for your pain. You didn’t ask for it, you didn’t deserve it,” Probst said.
The host of the longtime running CBS competition added that in the months that passed they’ve “learned so much about what we could have and should have done instead. And if this happened today, we would handled it much differently,” Entertainment Weekly reported.
Earlier this week, CBS announced it had made changes to the competition going forward, including guidelines for how contestants can report issues about inappropriate behavior.
Last week, Hollywood agent Dan Spilo became the first-ever contestant ejected from the show. It was ultimately an off-camera incident involving a staff member that got him kicked off the show. According to PEOPLE, the incident involved touching a female producer’s thigh as he was getting into a transport boat.
Kim was given an opportunity on Wednesday’s reunion show to address how CBS and producers handled her concerns.
“I think one of the things that has been and was the hardest thing was the fact that Dan remained in the game, even after I spoke up,” Kim said. “When someone goes through something like this or anything remotely like it…to not be supported and not be believed is really the hardest thing, it’s one of the hardest things.”
She added that she hopes this season of “Survivor” is “defined by change” and not by inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment.
“Ultimately my biggest hope is that each one of us, each individual, each institution, each organization, and especially CBS and survivor can take this, learn from it, and do better,” Kim said. “You know, I fundamentally believe that we can do better.”