‘Survivor’ Removes Contestant For First Time After Off-Camera Incident

Nellie Andreeva and Bruce Haring

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The Dec. 11 episode of CBSSurvivor came to a surprising end, with host Jeff Probst walking up to Lumuwaku Camp to deliver the news that one of the players, Dan Spilo, a prominent Hollywood manager-producer, has been ejected. This marks the first time in the history of the long-running reality series that a contestant has been removed.

“I just spoke privately with Dan and I want to update you guys,” Probst said. “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.”

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He did not elaborate further, and, after quick reactions from Janet, Tommy and Lauren, the episode ended with a card, which read, “Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.”

CBS wouldn’t comment beyond what was already stated on the show. Probst also declined to address the incident when asked by EW “out of respect for privacy and confidentiality.” Spilo also declined comment.

Citing Survivor production sources, People reported that the incident in question — which involved a member of the show’s production team — happened after an immunity challenge as Spilo and other contestants were getting into a boat to transport them back to the camp. It is believed to have involved physical contact.

Spilo, whose roster of clients includes big-name actors, had been accused earlier in the competition by fellow contestant Kelle Kim of unwanted touching. She was subsequently joined by two other female contestants, Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel, who also claimed that Spilo engaged in inappropriate touching with them.

By the end of the episode, Byrd and Beisel admitted they made up their claims in an effort to gain an edge in the game, and had not been made uncomfortable by any Spilo actions. Kim stood by her claims. When it came time for contestants to decide who would leave the show, Kim was voted off.

Spilo, executive producer of NBC’s Sunnyside, apologized for his perceived actions at the Tribal Council.

“I work in an industry in which the #MeToo movement was formed and allowed — thank God — to blossom and become powerful and strong. My personal feeling is if anyone ever felt for a second uncomfortable about anything I’ve ever done, I’m horrified about that and I’m terribly sorry,” he said.

He added: “It doesn’t matter whether I knew it happened or it didn’t happen. If someone feels it, it’s their truth. I have a wife, I have been married for 21 years, I have two boys, I have a big business, I have lots of employees. I think what upset everybody here is that this has somehow turned into gameplay.”

Spilo’s exit came on Day 35 of the competition, which strands contestants in deserted tropical locales for 39 days while they tackle challenges. Players vote contestants off the island. When it gets down to three people, previously exiled competitors decide who will win the $1 million grand prize.

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