The US version of Survivor has booted a contestant from the show as a result of an “off-camera incident”, marking the first time in the history of the long-running series that a player has been removed for something other than medical reasons.
The man in question, Dan Spilo, had already been accused of inappropriate touching by another contestant, Kellee Kim. Early episodes of season 39 showed him touching her face and hair as she asked him to stop.
The behaviour continued for some time, until Kim broke down in a confessional interview with an unseen Survivor producer. After this, Kim was voted out by her fellow competitors while Spilo received a “warning” about his behaviour.
Spilo was finally removed from the show this week, after an undisclosed incident that occurred during production. This week’s episode saw host Jeff Probst arrive at camp to tell his fellow contestants:
“I just spoke privately with Dan and I wanted 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 jury. He’s gone.”
A title card that appeared during the episode said that Spilo was removed “after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.”
Probst was vague as to the reasons for the removal, telling Entertainment Weekly:
“I’ve endeavored to be as forthcoming as possible with you regarding everything that has happened this season. In this situation, out of respect for privacy and confidentiality, I can’t say anymore.”
The show’s code of conduct states that “harming, or threatening harm to, other contestants or crew members” is against the rules, so whatever Spilo may have done, it presumably met this standard in the eyes of producers.
Probst said that both he and the Survivor production team have “learned a lot” from the situation and that “it will inform our process moving forward”, but he and the show have faced significant criticism for failing to act sooner and prioritizing drama over the well-being of contestants.
Kellee Kim released a statement, saying that Dan’s dismissal “validated” her concerns. She added that while she has accepted the apologies of her fellow contestants, she is disappointed that his behaviour was allowed to continue on Survivor for so long.
My thoughts on tonight’s episode of @survivorcbs and Dan Spilo’s removal for another incident of inappropriate touching. #Survivor39 pic.twitter.com/nfo9Q5ojLP
— Kellee Kim (@kellee_kim) December 12, 2019