Report explains why Survivor Island of the Idols’ Dan Spilo was removed

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Though CBS and producers have not explained the issue officially, a PEOPLE report explains why Survivor: Island of the Idols’ 6th-place finisher was removed.

This post will discuss the events of Survivor: Island of the Idols episode 13, including the 6th-place finisher and their exit from the game.

If there’s one thing clear about Dan Spilo’s entire experience with Survivor: Island of the Idols, it’s that nothing is clear. Everything is shrouded in mystery, half-truths, subjective perspectives, and, it seems like, restrained or litigious answers. We will never get the full truth of what happened because it’s clear that there are multiple sides that can’t agree on fundamental truths.

Fortunately, I happen to believe women when they say they’ve been touched inappropriately, and if production had acted earlier in the game after Dan Spilo’s transgressions first came to light, and if the players had the opportunity to speak their truths, we wouldn’t have to resort to reports and sources from third parties.

That is where we stand as we head into next week’s Survivor: Island of the Idols finale, as senior writer for PEOPLE, Steve Helling, reports that the off-camera incident forcing his removal from the game involved a female member of the show’s production as Spiloand others were being transported by boat from an Immunity Challenge back to camp.

Multiple sources to PEOPLE indicate he allegedly touched a female crew member’s leg, with Spilo claiming “the contact was inadvertent and accidental as he lost his balance while trying to get into the boat.” Though the incident was off-camera and didn’t involve a player, one of the remaining players apparently witnessed the incident, and “after consulting with the show’s legal team, producers eventually decided to remove him from the show.”

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When Jeff Probst was questioned by Dalton Ross of EW about the incident and what led to pulling him from the game, here is what Probst had to say:

"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."

Considering production members have spoken anonymously to reporters while Jeff and CBS have been restrained and non-declarative to the point of filming the finale reunion live-to-tape, it seems as though their hands are tied when it comes to what happened. Additionally, it makes sense not to produce identifiable information when it’s possible that litigation is on the table.

This PEOPLE report still toes the line in providing further details of the incident as to why the decision was made while still respecting the privacy of the victim. When multiple parties to these incidents are involved yet must comply with non-disclosure agreements and incidents occur in a location where filming doesn’t take place (there was no film of Pat Cusack’s back incident on a similar boating venture), it’s unfortunately tricky to be able to make an official comment on behalf of the show’s production.

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The Survivor: Island of the Idols finale airs on Wednesday, December 18 from 8 – 11 p.m. ET. With it, we will hopefully find some closure to the season and move onto season 40 as quickly as possible.