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Ex-Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider sues 'Quiet on Set' creators for defamation

He says the show was a "hit job" that conflated him with convicted child sexual abusers who worked at Nickelodeon.
Dan Schneider accepts an award at the 27th annual Kids' Choice Awards.
Posted at 10:09 PM, May 02, 2024

Former Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider is suing the creators of the documentary series "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV," alleging the producers falsely implied that he sexually abused child actors who worked on his television shows.

Schneider is emblematic of Nickelodeon's 1990s and 2000s heyday, from working on "All That" to creating some of kids TV's most successful shows like "The Amanda Show," "Drake & Josh," "Zoey 101," "iCarly," "Victorious" and more.

The producer's rise to the top was the overarching focus of "Quiet on Set," a five-episode Investigation Discovery series that became Max's biggest streaming title ever. But that focus didn't carry the same childlike glee that Schneider depicted in all of his shows.

Instead, the series featured former cast and crew members from Schneider's shows sharing what they allege really happened behind the scenes, including accusations Schneider fostered a hostile work environment and sexualized young actors. It also included stories of sexual abuse centered on other Nickelodeon employees, including dialogue coach Brian Peck, who was charged with sexually abusing "Drake & Josh" star Drake Bell.

In Schneider's defamation lawsuit, the producer says it's "indisputable" that two child sexual abusers worked on Nickelodeon shows, but it states it's also "indisputable" that Schneider never knew or was complicit in the abuse, and never abused children himself.

"At times, he was blind to the pain that some of his behaviors caused certain colleagues, subordinates and cast members. He will regret and atone for this behavior the rest of his life," the lawsuit says. "But one thing he is not — and the one thing that will forever mar his reputation and career both past and present — is a child sexual abuser."

Schneider filed his suit against Warner Brothers Discovery, Inc. — which owns ID and Max — Maxine Productions and Sony Pictures Television Inc. — which produced the series — and the co-creators of the series, Mary Robertson and Emma Schwartz.

He claims the defendants falsely implicated him as a criminal beginning with the trailer, which shows multiple images of him and uses his full name as interviewees describe stories of sexual abuse against children.

Schneider then lists instances from each episode in which a viewer could infer he was a predator due to the show conflating him with child sexual abusers like Brian Peck and Jason Handy, who was also convicted of various sex crimes against children stemming from his time at Nickelodeon.

In Episode 2, the lawsuit asserts that after a victim's mother discussed her experience with Handy, the show "inexplicably" cuts to an image in which Schneider is at center, instead of focusing on Handy in the image.

"By virtue of episode two's manipulative mix of editing, speech, and imagery, the viewer is left to conclude that, like Handy, Schneider used his position to facilitate child sexual abuse. This is false," the lawsuit states.

And in the final episode, Schneider's lawyers say a photograph of him used directly after the speakers discuss loopholes that allow a "convicted child molester" to be on a Hollywood set implies he's the predator, or that he "invited or allowed convicted child molesters on the set — in effect, aiding and abetting their crimes."

Schneider's suit alleges the defendants knew their statements and implications were false. He says they admitted to it in Episode 4 when they said Nickelodeon found no evidence of inappropriate behavior with children upon investigating Schneider in 2018 when he and the network parted ways.

"Simply stated, defendants could have been honest. Instead, the defendants, the trailer and 'Quiet on Set' do the exact opposite and knowingly, intentionally, maliciously and repeatedly state or imply that Schneider is a child sexual abuser — likely to attract viewers and ratings," the lawsuit states.

Some of the other allegations made against Schneider in "Quiet on Set" include that he asked a woman on the staff to give him a massage, wrote sexually suggestive jokes for his shows' child actors, was an emotionally abusive boss and showed pornography on his computer in the writers' room.

Dan Schneider accepts an award at the 27th annual Kids' Choice Awards.

Entertainment

Ex-Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider apologizes after 'Quiet on Set'

Taylor O'Bier
5:26 PM, Mar 20, 2024

After the first four episodes were released, Schneider posted a YouTube video in which he told Bobby Bowman, who played the character T-Bo on "iCarly," that he was "embarrassed" about some of his "past behaviors." He also said he "definitely" owes "some people a pretty strong apology."

"Every one of those jokes was written for a kid audience because kids thought they were funny," Schneider said. "Now we have some adults looking back at them 20 years later through their lens. And they're looking at them, and they're saying, 'I don't think that's appropriate for a kid show.' I have no problem with that if that's how anyone feels. Let's cut those jokes out of the show."

Alexa Nikolas, who starred in "Zoey 101" and was featured in "Quiet on Set," criticized Schneider for not sending private apologies to his former cast and crew and said that she doesn't forgive him.

"You don't feel anything, Dan," she said in a YouTube video. "That wasn't proper accountability. That was avoiding a lot of the main discussions here that were mentioned in 'Quiet on Set.' This was him playing the sympathy card, centering himself, playing the victim."