Since appearing on Survivor in late 2019, Dan Spilo has been laying pretty low after being the first person removed from the show in its 20-year history. He spent Memorial Day Weekend 2020 at Three Rivers campground in California, and he has been writing a lot of Facebook posts this summer in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The original post continues below.
Dan Spilo is a contestant on Survivor: Island of the Idols this season — one who has recently been at the center of some intense episodes. Last week on the show’s back-to-back episodes that aired Wednesday, Nov. 13, contestant Kellee Kim spoke up about how uncomfortable Spilo made her with the unwanted touching that was going on.
She thought she found allies among some other women in the merged tribe who said they agreed with her and then producers stepped in to talk to the castaways, both as a group and as individuals. But Kim still targeted Missy Byrd because it was better for her game and she was voted out. Meanwhile, Janet Carbin voted against Dan, who was her friend, because she thought she was doing the right thing for the women in the game. She later found out that Missy and Elizabeth Beisel actually had no intention of voting Dan out but were using Kellee’s complaint about him to make people think he was going home.
Janet felt incredibly hurt and betrayed to have something like unwanted touching be used as a game tool, and Dan balked several times at host Jeff Probst’s attempts to get him to talk about the unwanted touching.
UPDATE: In the latest Survivor episode, airing Wednesday, Dec. 11, Dan was removed from the game. The contestants were not told why and viewers were only told, “Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.”
Host Jeff Probst tells Entertainment Weekly that out of respect for people’s privacy, they cannot reveal any more about the incident.
“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,” says Probst, adding, “When we first told Dan we were pulling him from the game, he was not happy. We talked through everything for quite a while, and by the time he got on the boat to leave he had calmed down and was actually very respectful as he departed.”
But PEOPLE reports that they have spoken to multiple sources who say that the incident in question happened when the contestants were being taken back to camp from an immunity challenge. The sources say Spilo touched a female crew member’s leg; he insisted it was accidental, but the production team wasn’t sure that the contact was incidental, so they decided to remove Spilo from the game.
Regardless, Probst tells EW that this season has taught the whole Survivor production team a “great deal” about how to handle a situation like this and they will “evolve” their protocols moving forward.
“While we still want to maintain the competitive aspect of the game, above all, we want to ensure that all players always feel safe and respected. These conversations both internally and with outside organizations will continue,” says Probst.
Here’s everything you need to know about contestant Dan Spilo.
1. He’s a Los Angeles-Based Talent Manager
Spilo grew up in New York but has been a Los Angeles-based talent rep for 20 years, he told Parade Magazine in a pre-show interview. He said he loves his job because “every day is different.”
“Very few jobs have you dealing with this huge spectrum of humanity,” Spilo said. “Every race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, you get to learn about them. As a manager, it’s a very personal thing. It’s not just business. You have to care about everything in their lives, or you should do something else and be an agent.”
The firm Spilo works for is Industry Entertainment Partners, which he actually co-owns with Sara Bottfeld, Andrew Deane and Tracey Murray. Spilo’s clients include Jared Padalecki, Joey King, Rachael Leigh Cook, Lauren Ash, Kal Penn, Ron Cephas Jones, Michael Mosley, Conchata Ferrell, and Dan Byrd, among many others.
Spilo must be particularly involved in managing Padalecki. Spilo’s Twitter profile pic is of the two of them, and he posted a photo to Facebook a few years ago of his vanity license plate, which reads “SPNMNGR.”
2. Dan Went to the ‘Fame’ High School
Spilo also revealed to Parade that he attended the “Fame high school,” or the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. The 1980 film Fame was based on student life at the high school when it was simply known as the School of Performing Arts, prior to its physical merge with LaGuardia High School in the mid-1980s.
Spilo said that it was his time at this high school that made him realize he wanted to work in the entertainment industry.
“I grew up in New York and went to the ‘Fame’ high school of the performing arts. I loved acting, even though at that time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life,” said Spilo. “My time there made me love artists. I knew I’d have to do something in that area.”
3. But First, He Went to Law School
Prior to getting into talent management, Spilo went to law school, intending to work in entertainment law. But he quickly decided that the actual practice of law was pretty boring.
“I went to law school, thinking I’d want to be an entertainment lawyer. I thought it would be like a consigliere from The Godfather,” Spilo said. “But it turns out you’re just doing paperwork and not talking with anybody. That was instantly miserable. [laughs] I was working with a writer and told him this story, and he said, ‘You should be a manager. You should be my manager.’ They actually worked for the company I now own and run.”
So he quit practicing law and got a job where the first thing he had to do was keep the company refrigerators stocked — but now he owns the company, he told Josh Wigler in a pre-show podcast interview.
“I am in the office in which I had to put a semi-ripe banana and a copy of USA Today on the desk of 20 years ago,” he recalled.
4. Dan is Married With Two Sons
Spilo married his wife Katie in Des Moines, Iowa in 1998, but the two have resided in Los Angeles ever since. They have two sons, Ben, 17, and Ryan, 14. He told Wigler in his pre-show interview that he is desperate to make it to the family visit so that his son, Ryan, can visit him. Ryan has been a Survivor fan since the age of four.
“Family visit is a big highlight for me because they’ve allowed me to have my 13-year-old son be my family visit for the first time in the show’s history they’re having a minor who has to be traveled with. He’s a massive Survivor fan, we’ve watched it since he was four,” said Spilo.
Dan lists on his Survivor bio that the accomplishment he is most proud of is “raising two loving, considerate boys, and working hard to keep a marriage fun, loving, and passionate for 20 years.”
5. ‘Survivor’ is His Everest
He also told Wigler that playing Survivor is like climbing Mount Everest for him, especially because the number of people who have played Survivor is even less than the number of people who have climbed Mt. Everest.
“In the last 20 years, there have been 5000 people who have climbed to the top of Mt. Everest. There have been less than 560 people who have played this game. I guess there’s only 37 who have actually won it … I have no interest in frostbite and oxygen deprivation,” Spilo said, adding, “This is my Mt. Everest. This is my kind of challenge … this is the mountain I want to climb.”
He later revealed that his biggest fear going into Survivor was that he would have to go home early. He said he wanted to make it to the jury, which he now has done on the show.
“Post-merge jury vote-out is perfectly fine for me, as it is probably for most people, though I anticipate and expect final three and family visits,” said Spilo.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.