Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Former Nickelodeon Producer Dan Schneider Sues ‘Quiet on Set’ Makers For Defamation, Sex Abuse Implications

By Michael May 2, 2024

Former Nickelodeon producer/writer Dan Schneider fired back at the team behind the bombshell series Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV on Wednesday (May 1) in a lawsuit in which he alleged that the documentary series wrongly implied that he sexually abused the child actors he worked with.

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According to the Associated Press, Schneider filed the defamation suit against Warner Bros. Discovery and other companies behind the investigative series in Los Angeles Superior Court, claiming in the suit that the show’s trailer and episodes deliberately mixed and juxtaposed images and mentions of him with the criminal sexual abusers spotlighted in the show with the implication he was involved.

Former teenage actor Schneider (Head of the Class) split with Nickelodeon in 2018 after more than a decade at the center of some of the network’s most successful, star-making shows, including All That, The Amanda Show, Kenan & Kel and as executive producer of Zoey 101, iCarly and Victorious, with the latter three, respectively, launching the careers of Jamie Lynn Spears, Miranda Cosgrove and Jenette McCurdy and Victoria Justice and Ariana Grande.

Schneider took center stage during many storylines in Quiet, which interviewed the casts and crews of several of Schneider’s most successful shows to describe how the sets he was responsible for often sexualized their young teen stars in a sometimes tense, toxic work environment some described as abusive. The series originally ran on the ID channel in March and is now available to stream on Max.

Among the bombshell revelations in the series that spotlighted descriptions of sexual abuse of child actors was the emotional commentary from Drake & Josh star Drake Bell, who described his grooming and sexual abuse by former childhood dialogue coach Brian Peck; Peck was convicted of sexually assaulting a Nickelodeon child actor (Bell) in 2004. In the third episode, Bell graphically recounts the abuse he suffered at Peck’s hands when he was 14- and 15-years-old.

Other former actors on Nickelodeon shows from the Schneider era also allege that they were rife with sexism, racism and inappropriate behavior involving underage stars and crew and alleged predatory behavior. The show suggests that Schneider’s shows tended to put young women in comedic situations with overt sexual implications, while depicting him as an angry and emotionally abusive boss, including specific allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination form women who worked as writers under him on All That.

Among the allegations are that he displayed pornography on his computer in their presence in the writers’ room and often asked for massages from female staffers with the implication that they could help get the women’s sketches on the shows, which he has denied.

According to the AP, the suit claims “Quiet on Set’s portrayal of Schneider is a hit job. While it is indisputable that two bona fide child sexual abusers worked on Nickelodeon shows, it is likewise indisputable that Schneider had no knowledge of their abuse, was not complicit in the abuse, condemned the abuse once it was discovered and, critically, was not a child sexual abuser himself.” In addition to Discovery — parent company of ID and Max — the suit names the show’s producers as well, Sony Pictures Television and Maxine Productions. The suit claims that the series and its trailer unjustly implicated Schneider in child sex abuse by showing pictures of him, some with his arm around young actresses, amid discussions of what they said were unsafe environments on his sets.

The series claims that kid actors were made to wear suggestive costumes and act in inappropriate sketches with clearly pornographic undertones. All That actor Leon Frierson talks about his superhero character, Captain Big Nose, who wore tights and underwear and a prosthetic nose with matching noses on his shoulders.

“You can’t help but notice that it looks like penises and testicles on my shoulders,” he says in the series, adding that one sketch included Captain Big Nose blasting a giant sneeze caused by his allergy to asteroids, with the punchline consisting of him shooting messy goo on the face of a young woman. “The joke in that sketch is effectively a cum shot joke. It’s a cum shot joke for children,” culture writer Schaachi Koul says in the premiere episode of the five-part series. “Looking back, it’s very strange. Frankly, it was just uncomfortable,” says Frierson, who also describes that getting close to “kingmaker” Schneider could result in another level of success for the young actors. “It was important to be on his good side, and he made it known who was on his good side,” he says.

Nickelodeon, which was not named in the suit, said in a statement in the series that it could not “corroborate or negate” the allegations from two decades ago, but that it investigates all formal complaints and has strict protocols for shows starring minors.

Schneider, 58, was not interviewed for the series, but issued a YouTube video apology after the show aired in which he said he was sorry for “past behaviors, some of which are embarrassing and that I regret.” The suit is seeking financial damages to be determined at trial for what it described as “the destruction of Schneider’s reputation and legacy” via “false statements and implications” as well as the editing and removals of portions of the series and trailers.

“Schneider will be the first to admit that some of what they said is true,” the lawsuit claims according to The Huffington Post. “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. 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.”

In a statement to HuffPo, Schneider said the series “highlighted mistakes I made and poor judgment I exhibited during my time at Nickelodeon. … There is no doubt that I was sometimes a bad leader. I am sincerely apologetic and regretful for that behavior, and I will continue to take accountability for it.”

Stories about sexual assault allegations can be traumatizing for survivors of sexual assault. If you or anyone you know needs support, you can reach out to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The organization provides free, confidential support to sexual assault victims. Call RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) or visit the anti-sexual violence organization’s website for more information.

By Michael

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