‘Survivor’ Finale: Dan Spilo’s Absence From Reunion Show Explained

One cast member was noticeably missing from the 'Survivor: Island of the Idols' reunion show on Dec. 18 -- Dan Spilo was not welcome to attend the show after being ejected from the game this season.

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UPDATE DEC. 17 AT 10:45 P.M. ET: Jeff Probst addressed the situation with Dan at the Survivor reunion show on Dec. 17. He sat down for a one-on-one interview with Kellee and personally apologized to her for not handling things correctly. “If it happened today, we would handle it much differently,” Jeff said. “We’ve already taken important steps to lay out new policies, procedures, rules and methods for reporting that will create a better and safer environment.” He added, “You were right. You were right to speak up. You were right to step forward, despite a lot of risk and to speak your truth. I want to acknowledge and apologize for your pain. You didn’t ask for it and you didn’t deserve it.

Kellee admitted that the hardest part of the situation for her was that Dan got to stay in the game after she came forward with her claims about his inappropriate touching. “I felt like I spoke up and I was not being supported or believed,” she admitted. “When someone goes through something like this, to not be supported and not be believed is really the hardest thing.”

Kellee said that this whole thing was a really “hard situation” for her, but revealed that she hopes that season 39 of Survivor is not defined by it. “I hope it’s defined by change,” she concluded. “I feel like I can be really proud of the fact that I spoke up and I asked for these changes and CBS and Survivor are making those changes because I asked. I have to fundamentally believe at the end of the day that individuals and institutions are capable of change.” Jeff assured her that, at CBS and Survivor, they are “committed to it.”

ORIGINAL STORY: Dan Spilo caused major controversy on Survivor: Island of the Idols, and he was not invited to the finale reunion show because of it. For the first time ever, the Survivor reunion show was pre-taped, then aired back during the three hour finale on Dec. 18, due to the sensitive nature of what happened with Dan this season. The 48-year-old was ejected from the game during the Dec. 11 episode, following an incident that took place off-camera. The exact details of what happened were not revealed, and the remaining tribe members (Tommy Sheehan, Lauren Beck, Dean Kowalski and Noura Salman) only found out about the decision when Jeff Probst unexpectedly showed up at their camp on the morning of day 36.

“Alright, so need to share some news,” Jeff told them. “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 will not be coming back to camp. He won’t be on the jury. He’s gone.” The group was not given any specific details about what happened. In fact, as far as they knew (at the time), Dan may have made the decision to leave the game himself. However, viewers were given a bit more information, when a message popped up on the screen at the end of the episode. “Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involved a player,” the note read.

This was not the first time that Dan’s behavior has been called into question on Island of the Idols. On the very first day of filming, Kellee Kim expressed concern over feeling uncomfortable by how touchy Dan was. She raised her concerns to him, and he promised to stop. However, the subject came up again during the tribe merge, when Missy Byrd and Elizabeth Beisel told Kellee that Dan also made them feel uncomfortable.

Production eventually intervened, and spoke with all the tribe members about whether or not they felt unsafe with Dan in the game. Dan was given an official warning about his behavior, and when he confronted the women about it at camp, Missy and Elizabeth denied that he made them feel uncomfortable. Instead, they said that they just made those comments to Kellee as a game move. The women received major backlash for this, especially after Kellee’s feelings were validated by Dan being ejected from the game.

For nearly a week after the episode where Dan was ejected aired, he stayed silent. However, he released his first statement on the subject on Dec. 17. “I am deeply sorry for how my actions affected Kellee during the taping of this season of Survivor,” Dan told People. “After apologizing at tribal council when I first learned that Kellee still felt uncomfortable, I want to make sure to do so again, clearly and unambiguously. I truly regret that anyone was made to feel uncomfortable by my behavior. In my life, I have always tried to treat others with decency, integrity and kindness. I can only hope that my actions in the future can help me to make amends and show me to be the kind of father, husband, colleague and friend that I always aim to be.”

Kellee took to Twitter to issue her response to Dan’s statement. “It’s curious that Dan has decided to publicly apologize to me — and just me — on the eve of the #Survivor39 finale for a series of inappropriate incidents that occurred months ago and impacted a number of women on set,” she wrote. “I truly hope that some of this self-reflection is real and that Dan changes his behavior going forward. For me, this statement only underscores the responsibility of CBS and Survivor to take action to prevent anything like this from happening again in the future.”

On Dec. 17, CBS also announced its decision to put new guidelines in place following what happened this season. For a full breakdown of the statement, visit our sister site, Variety. The situation is expected to be discussed further during the reunion show on Dec 18.

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