This week’s episode of Survivor detoured into unchartered waters when a contestant Keelle expressed feeling uncomfortable with a tactile tribe member, Dan.
Things escalated when other women agreed they were also uncomfortable with Dan.
It led to a producer intervention and warnings.
But Survivor is also a game. Lines were blurring when there was some questioning of whether the information was being used against people, with so questions over how legitimate the complaint was, and indeed whether jeopardising someone’s reputation beyond the game was fair.
And how could a Tribal Council in which sensitive matters were discussed ever be separated from the vote?
Entertainment Weekly spoke to host Jeff Prost abou it all…
EW: Okay, a lot to get into here. There are so many angles and things to get into with this whole Kellee and Dan situation. Let’s start on the production side. We saw Kellee say in an interview how uncomfortable she was with what she saw as Dan’s inappropriate touching, and in a Survivor rarity, heard one of your producers talking back to Kellee about it. We were later informed that the producers met with the players as a group and individually, and that Dan was issued a warning for his behavior. Take us through what was happening behind the scenes as you all discussed how to handle this situation, and then how those meetings with the players went.
Jeff Probst: Okay let’s start with the big picture. We monitor the players 24 hours a day for 39 days. There is never a moment when a producer is not with them. And the various producing teams on both beaches have daily downloads, so everybody is always aware what is happening with every player. Personally, I am constantly being updated on what is happening on the beaches. I receive updates on everything from minor injuries to rice rations to idol finds.
After Kellee and Missy’s conversation about Dan, one of our co-EP’s interviewed Kellee. This is normal Survivor protocol. And, as you saw, in the interview Kellee got upset, so our producer stopped the interview to ask if Kellee wanted production to intervene. This is a very important moment because the producer is having to navigate a delicate balance of looking out for Kellee without taking any action that might negatively impact her game.
To her credit, Kellee stated that she felt the issue could be handled by the players involved and did not want us to take any action on her behalf. And as you saw in her earlier conversation with Missy, both women were very clear that they were not going to let one person “blow up their game.” But based on Kellee’s interview, the producer immediately shared the story with me and I immediately contacted CBS. The decision was made to meet with all players, both as a group and individually, to remind them of personal boundaries and hear of any concerns.
When we met privately with Dan, we told him that his actions were making some of the women uncomfortable and reminded him that personal boundaries must be respected at all times. We also informed him this was an official warning.