Long-time Survivor casting director Lynne Spiegel Spillman has been ‘let go,’ according to a former Survivor cast member.
The news of Spillman’s departure came from Shane Powers, a contestant from Survivor: Panama, who revealed on a recent episode of his podcast that the Emmy-nominated casting director had been “let go” from the hit CBS series. Powers said he had called Spillman to ask how he could get cast for Big Brother and during the call he could tell something was wrong.
“I was able to call her and go, ‘Yo, I wanna try and get on Big Brother,'” Shane explained. “And she’s like, ‘Well, that’s never gonna happen’… and then I heard this thing in her voice, and I’m like, ‘What’s going on with you?”
“It was almost tearful,” he added, referring to Spillman’s reaction. “And she’s like, ‘Well, I’ve been let go from Survivor.’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about, let go? You are Survivor! The casting is… you are the f***ing show!”
Spillman has been with Survivor since the very beginning and for 18 years has been one of the key people responsible for compiling the show’s casts. While Jeff Probst, Mark Burnett, and CBS ultimately have final say on all casting decisions, Spillman, along with a team of associates, is the person in charge of finding and interviewing potential cast members.
Earlier in the week, Inside Survivor had learned that Spillman was departing the show, although at the time it wasn’t clear to us whether she was leaving of her own accord or had been fired. After Powers revealed the news on his podcast, we reached out to other sources and confirmed that Spillman was indeed let go within the past couple of weeks. It is believed Spillman will continue to cast The Amazing Race, a show she has worked on since the first season.
UPDATE 07/02/18: In a further update, a source has revealed to Inside Survivor that Spillman’s contract with Survivor was up and it didn’t get renewed.
On his podcast, Powers blamed Probst for the situation, though he added a disclaimer, stating “clearly this is all my opinion.”
“I know what’s going on here – this is my opinion – Probst is an ego-maniac, and he doesn’t want anybody else getting credit for his show because he’s so empty and void because he’s never been able to get anything else going on in his life. The problem with Jeff Probst is that he doesn’t have the chops to do anything other than what he knows how to do, which is this game show.”
Powers made reference to the Emmy Award-winning host almost quitting Survivor in 2009, as well as his failed 2012 talk show. In an interview with the New York Times in 2015, Probst recalled a period where he felt “burned out” and ready to quit, partly because he was “self-conscious” about being known as the “Survivor guy.”
“My Achilles’ heel for a lot of my life was that nobody saw me as a storyteller, that they saw me as a white guy with dark hair who was just a game show host,” Probst said. “And that in terms of my own self-image was the thing that could gut me. It was like a kidney punch.”
Probst would eventually sign a new contract, taking on the role of showrunner, alongside his hosting duties and executive producing the show.
Listen to The Shane Show podcast below, the talk about Spillman begins at around the 42 minute mark.