Dan Schneider, ex-Nickelodeon producer, apologizes for on-set behaviour – National



NOTE: The following article contains disturbing content. Please read at your own discretion.

Former Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider has apologized for his “embarrassing” on-set behaviour in a new interview that addresses claims he sexualized former child stars and created a toxic work environment.

Schneider produced some of the most popular children’s television shows of the 2000s and 2010s, including The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly and Victorious. In recent years, Schneider, 60, has seen his TV empire crumble amid accusations of bullying and inappropriate interactions with the child stars and crew members who worked on his shows.

On Tuesday, Schneider posted a nearly 20-minute-long interview in which he responds to several allegations made against him in Investigation Discovery’s new four-part docuseries entitled Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV. He was interviewed by the actor BooG!E, who won the admiration of tween fans for his comedic portrayal of the character T-Bo on iCarly. 

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“Watching over the past two nights was very difficult — me facing my past behaviours, some of which are embarrassing and that I regret. I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology,” Schneider said.

“When I watched the show, I could see the hurt in some people’s eyes, and it made me feel awful and regretful and sorry,” he continued. “I wish I could go back, especially to those earlier years of my career, and bring the growth and the experience that I have now and just do a better job and never, ever feel like it was OK to be an a—hole to anyone, ever.”

“I can tell you why it hurts really bad for me,” Schneider said of the allegations against him.

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“I was green. I was scared. I was excited. It meant the world to me that I was getting these opportunities,” he recalled. “I went in and I got lucky, because my first couple experiences were fantastic. And the fact that I didn’t pay it forward to every employee that walked through my door, it hurts my heart because I should have, and I wish I could go back and fix that.”

Schneider left Nickelodeon in 2018 following an investigation that found he’d been verbally abusive to several staff members.

Sexualized scenes featuring child stars

Much of the complaints against Schneider — posed both by ex-child stars and former fans of his work — are to do with seemingly sexualized jokes acted out by minors in his TV shows.

Some of these scenes, many of which have resurfaced on social media in recent years, have been called hypersexual or subtle fetish content by Schneider’s accusers and the now-adult, retrospective viewers of his programs. Examples of such scenes include a teenage Ariana Grande sucking on her own toes in Sam and Cat or footage of Schneider eating spaghetti in a hot tub with a young Amanda Bynes while filming The Amanda Show.

When asked by BooG!E about the sexualized jokes, Schneider appeared to shift some of the blame onto higher-ups at Nickelodeon.

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“The notion that I had the power to write whatever I wanted and have it air is completely false,” he said. “There were many, many levels of scrutiny. We had executives in LA, we had executives in New York. Two coasts of approval.”

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Schneider said everything from his writing to wardrobe, makeup, sound and set choices for his shows had to be approved by his bosses, who were Nickelodeon executives.

However, Schneider did agree that some of the jokes in his shows went too far. He said the inappropriate scenes should be cut from episodes that are still airing on Nickelodeon or are available to stream online.

“Every one of those jokes was written for a kid audience because kids thought they were funny and only funny,” Schneider defended. “Now, we have some adults looking back at them 20 years later through their lens, and they’re looking at them and saying, ‘I don’t think that’s appropriate for a kid’s show.’”

“I want my shows to be popular. I want everyone to like [the shows], the more people who liked the shows, the happier I am. So, if there’s anything that needs to be cut because it’s upsetting somebody, let’s cut it.”

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Drake Bell’s bombshell revelation

In the third episode of Quiet on Set, Drake Bell, who as a minor starred in both Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show, said he was the juvenile victim in the sexual abuse case of Brian Peck, a former Nickelodeon dialogue coach.

Bell, now 37, said he was the unnamed teenager in the trial that saw Peck convicted of child molestation in 2004. The sexual abuse allegedly occurred when Bell was 15 years old, though his identity had never been publicly revealed prior to the docuseries.

Peck was arrested on 11 charges of child sexual abuse, including employment of a minor for pornography. He served 16 months in prison and was made to register as a sex offender.

In the docuseries, Bell had a difficult time recounting the abuses he experienced, and instead said to the camera: “Why don’t you think of the worst thing someone can do to someone that is sexual assault and that’ll answer your question.”

In his interview, Schneider said he did not hire Peck at Nickelodeon.

Schneider said he was “devastated” when a then-teenage Bell told him about the abuse he’d experienced at the hands of Peck, who was his coach.

“When Drake and I talked and he told me about what happened, I was more devastated by that than anything that ever happened to me in my career thus far,” Schneider said. “And I told him, ‘I’m here for you.’”

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Schneider also became emotional when he recounted an instance where Bell’s mother asked him to help write a speech that would be read to the courtroom during Peck’s trial.

“She came to me at the time, and she said, ‘Dan, I’m not good with words like you are. And would you help me with my speech for the judge?’ I said, ‘Of course,’” Schneider recalled.

Schneider called Peck’s abuse and subsequent criminal trial “the darkest part of my career.”

Alongside Bell’s admission of abuse, one of the most shocking details to come from the documentary was the reveal of several celebrities’ names, each of whom wrote some of the 41 letters submitted to the judge in support of Peck. At the time of his trial, James Marsden, Ron Melendez, Alan Thicke, Rider Strong, Will Friedle and Taran Killam all wrote positive character letters.

Friedle and Strong, who starred in the popular ’90s TV show Boy Meets World, on their podcast recently revealed they regret voicing support for Peck.

Schneider said “Drake was devastated” by the support for Peck from so many entertainment industry professionals.

Inappropriate behaviour on-set

Schneider has been accused of acting inappropriately toward a number of girls and women who worked on his Nickelodeon TV shows.

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Though Schneider has not been accused of any sexual misconduct, he asked some crew members on his sets to give him body massages, an allegation covered in Quiet on Set. Former Amanda Show writer Jenny Kilgen said Schneider told her he would put the sketches she penned into the show in exchange for a massage.

Schneider acknowledged the behaviour in his interview and said, “It was wrong.”

“It was wrong to do. I’d never do it today,” he claimed. “I’m embarrassed that I did it then. I apologize to anybody that I ever put in that situation.”

Schneider apologized to anyone who may have witnessed the massages on set and “may have felt uncomfortable.”

His apologies didn’t end there. Schneider also said sorry for any pranks and inappropriate jokes he told in his writers rooms. Among the allegations, some writers who worked formerly under Schneider said they were forced to act out sexually suggestive scenes in the writers room.

“Let me just say, no writer should ever feel uncomfortable in any writers room, ever. Period. The end. No excuses,” he said.

“There are definitely things that I would do differently,” Schneider reflected. “The main thing that I would change is how I treat people and everyone. I definitely at times didn’t give people the best of me. I didn’t show enough patience. I could be cocky and definitely over-ambitious and sometimes just straight-up rude and obnoxious, and I’m sorry that I ever was.”

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Schneider told BooG!E he retrospectively wished he would have employed licensed therapists to manage child actors throughout filming processes.

Regardless, Schneider cited instances where he felt he did right by the young actors in his shows. He recalled an instance when Amanda Bynes, then 16 or 17 years old, allegedly phoned him after an argument with her parents.

“It was very late. Well after midnight, or 1 or 2 in the morning, the phone rang,” he recalled. “I answered it, and it was Amanda. She was in distress. She had had some conflict with her parents — I think her father — and she called. I was immediately concerned for her safety.”

Schneider said he intervened and had someone pick up Bynes, who was brought to police.

Bynes has not commented publicly about Schneider’s claims.

Jennette McCurdy and ‘The Creator’

Actor Jennette McCurdy, who played Sam Puckett on iCarly and Sam & Cat, recounted numerous negative experiences while working at Nickelodeon in her memoir, I’m Glad My Mother’s Dead. 

In the book, McCurdy, 31, discusses several interactions with a Nickelodeon employee called only “The Creator,” believed to be Schneider.

She wrote that The Creator was “mean-spirited, controlling, and terrifying” and was known to make “grown men and women cry with his insults and degradation.”

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Among her numerous allegations of workplace mistreatment, McCurdy claimed she was offered a US$300,000 (almost C$405,000) “thank-you gift” from Nickelodeon after Sam & Cat ended. McCurdy did not take the money because it was offered on the condition that she never publicly discuss her experiences at Nickelodeon, specifically to do with The Creator.

Some former child stars aren’t buying it

Alexa Nikolas, who played Nicole Bristow on the Schneider’s hit show Zoey 101, during a livestream to her social media accounts Tuesday, said Schneider’s apologies are long overdue.

“I don’t feel bad for you, Dan Schneider, because it’s sad that it took you this long to apologize to us,” she said while standing outside Nickelodeon’s offices in Burbank, Calif.

“Not only did you bully me, you actually put me in a situation where creeps are going to look at me in a certain way as a child,” she continued. “You’re embarrassed? That’s a joke.”

She deemed Schneider “the champion of creeps.”

Nikolas called for an end to non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) for children working in entertainment, as well as the inclusion of third-party children’s advocates on-set.

‘Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV’ is now streaming on Discovery Plus and Amazon Prime Video.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.

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