Jeff Probst offers to Kellee Kim and the viewers of Survivor: Island of the Idols something we’ve wanted to hear for weeks; an apology and owning responsibility.
When it was revealed that the Survivor: Island of the Idols finale would be filmed live-to-tape just before an episode aired where Dan Spilo was removed from the game, it was clear that the reunion was finally going to bring into serious detail and discussions about the mismanagement of the entire scenario on multiple levels. When host Jeff Probst and castaway Kellee Kim spoke one-on-one nearing the end of the finale, it looked like the topic was being approached seriously.
“You were right,” Probst told Kellee. “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.” Additionally, Jeff spoke to how “it was a very complex, unprecedented situation for us,” and how they spoke to multiple people with CBS across time zones to come to a conclusion that the host, in learning in the months after the incident, came up short.
Kellee agreed to participate in this segment because, as written in the New York Times, she was granted the opportunity to speak freely. And speak freely she did, remarking that she felt pressure to do right by this opportunity and remarked that, after Dan was not removed from the game (a point of contention she took issue with), she remarked, “I felt like I spoke up and I wasn’t being supported or believed.”
Though Jeff Probst did apologize, the conversation between him and Kellee talked a lot about how they fell short of fully support those who were victimized or spoke up, including not being transparent in group discussions or how they allowed others to use Dan’s indiscretions to keep him in since he was perceived as a zero-vote finalist. He also brought up the protocols and personnel changes that CBS and Survivor are bringing to the island and other reality competitions.
Kellee Kim also commented on Twitter after the segment aired on television, remarking on the moment from the finale. Additionally, she thanked the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund Twitter account and civil rights lawyer Debra Katz, a lawyer who represented the likes of Christine Blasey Ford and an executive from the Weinstein Company who had confronted Harvey Weinstein about his sexual misconduct.
It is very important to note that Kellee had these organizations and entities standing up for her due to the sensitive nature of this finale. We’ve seen entire narratives flipped upside-down in the edit, and with CBS and Survivor taping the finale, it’d be hard for Kellee to get as open an opportunity to freely discuss what went wrong with Island of the Idols and how the show can improve.