The tribe has spoken – and that tribe is CBS producers.
For the first time in its 39 seasons, a player was ejected from Survivor mid-production due to bad behaviour. In last night’s episode of Survivor: Islands of Idols, Hollywood talent manager Dan Spilo was removed from the game after an unspecified off-camera incident. Following tribal council, host Jeff Probst arrived at camp (another Survivor rarity) and told the remaining contestants: "I just spoke privately with Dan, and I want to update you guys. A decision has been made, and Dan will not be returning to the game. He won't be coming back to camp, he won't be on the jury, he's gone." The episode ended with a title card that read, "Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player."
The unprecedented removal happened on day 35 of the 39-day game, but Probst was reluctant to expand on the reasons in the press, telling Entertainment Weekly, "In this situation, out of respect for privacy and confidentiality, I can’t say anymore."
According to People, the incident occurred when the 48-year-old contestant and his team members were getting into a boat after an immunity challenge. It involved a member of the production staff and was not caught on camera -- but a source says at least one other contestant witnessed it.
Spilo had previously created tension when accusations that he inappropriately touched female contestants caused production to intervene and issue him a formal warning. His behaviour to his fellow players, in particular Kellee Kim, was the source of much debate at an especially heated tribal council, but he was not voted out.
When asked how Spilo reacted to his ejection from the game, Probst told EW, "When we first told Dan we were pulling him from the game, he was not happy. We talked through everything for quite a while, and by the time he got on the boat to leave he had calmed down and was actually very respectful as he departed."
Kim, who was the first contestant to complain about Spilo’s behaviour, tweeted a statement following his ejection: "While Dan's dismissal has validated the concerns that I raised from the beginning of this season, I wish that no one else had to be subjected to this type of behavior."
— Kellee Kim (@kellee_kim) December 12, 2019
In another first, the Survivor reunion show will not air live. It will air on Dec. 18 following the finale, but will be taped earlier that afternoon instead of airing live due to "security concerns for the contestants and to make sure the players feel as comfortable and safe as possible while discussing what happened out on the island," according to EW.