SPOILER WARNING: Do not read on unless you’ve watched Wednesday night’s episode of Survivor.
For the first time in Survivor history, a contestant has been removed from the show due to an off-camera incident.
“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.”
After Probst made the announcement, a title card appeared which read: “Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.”
The incident was not revealed to the contestants but Probst told Entertainment Weekly that, “in this situation, out of respect for privacy and confidentiality, I can’t say anymore.”
In November, multiple women accused Dan of inappropriate behaviour during an intense two-hour episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols.
Kellee Kim expressed discomfort around fellow castaway Dan during the episode, and she had previously confronted him during the season premiere about the way he engaged with her physically.
During an emotional confessional, Kellee said that Dan’s behaviour is “a pattern.”
“This isn’t just one person,” she said, reminiscent of the many #MeToo accusations made in recent years. “It’s a pattern. It’s a pattern. It takes five people to be like, man, the way I’m feeling about this is actually real. It’s not in my head. I’m not overreacting to it. He’s literally done these things to five different women in this game. That sucks. That totally, totally sucks.”
The producers broke the fourth wall and responded to Kellee off-camera.
“You know, if there are issues to the point where things need to happen, come to me and I will make sure that stops,” they said. “Because I don’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable. … I just want to make sure. This is not … it’s not OK.”
The producers spoke with all the contestants as a group and individually following their chat with Kellee.
Before the first immunity challenge, a title card appeared, revealing: “The following morning the producers met with all the players, both as a group and individually. They were cautioned about personal boundaries and reminded that producers are available to them at all times. Based on the outcome of those discussions, the game continued. In addition, producers met privately with Dan, at which time he was issued a warning for his behavior. Producers continue to monitor the situation.”
Dan weighed in on the accusations against him from Kellee and other female contestants including Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel — who admitted to lying about their own interactions with the 48-year-old talent agent.
“I work in the most high-wire industry in regards to this business. Most of my clients are women. Most of the people I work with are women. I work in an industry in which the #MeToo movement was formed and allowed, thank God, to blossom and become powerful and strong,” he began. “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.”
Dan apologized and added: “I couldn’t be more confident in that I’m one of the kindest, gentlest people I know. 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.”
Kellee put out a statement on Twitter following Survivor’s removal of Dan from the show.
“Tonight, on CBS Survivor, Dan Spilo was kicked off the show for, once again, inappropriate touching. 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 behaviour,” Kellee began.
“CBS and Survivor were on notice of Dan’s behaviour from the very first days of the game. And, as Survivor fans know, shortly after I spoke up on camera, I was voted off the show. Since then, I’ve accepted genuine, heartfelt apologies from fellow castaways, but I’ve continued to feel disappointed by how this pattern of behaviour was allowed to occur for so long,” Kellee wrote.
Kellee added, “While I wish many things had gone differently, I’m glad that my decision to speak up made a difference. What is most important to me now is how all of us — CBS, Survivor, other organizations and all of us as individuals — decide to learn from this story and commit to take action.”
“Lastly, I am grateful to the many people who have reached out to me over the last few weeks to share their own stories and messages of solidarity. These messages, of feeling supported and believed, have been an incredible gift. Thank you,” Kellee concluded.
It was announced on Dec. 11 that Survivor’s reunion show will not air live for the first time in 39 seasons.
The reunion show will be pretaped four hours before it airs on Dec. 18 due to the sensitive material of this season as well as security concerns, according to Entertainment Weekly.
CBS declined to comment beyond the statement on the show.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.