Dan Schneider Sues ‘Quiet on Set’ Producers for Defamation, Calls Nickelodeon Abuse Docuseries a ‘Hit Job’

Dan Schneider
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Dan Schneider has filed a defamation lawsuit against the producers of the Investigation Discovery docuseries “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV,” which uncovered alleged abuse and misconduct at Nickelodeon and became Max’s biggest streaming title ever.

The lawsuit, obtained by Variety and filed by Schneider’s attorneys Jana Moser and Richard McKie, reads in part: “‘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. But for the sake of clickbait, ratings, and views — or put differently, money — Defendants have destroyed Schneider’s reputation and legacy through the false statements and implications that Schneider is exactly that.”

“Quiet on Set” details Schneider’s rise as the creator and producer of Nickelodeon shows including “The Amanda Show,” “Drake & Josh,” “Zoey 101,” “iCarly,” “Victorious” and more. Former Nickelodeon writers, child stars and crew members appear in the five-episode series and accuse Schneider of creating a hostile work environment and sexualizing former child actors on television. (A representative for Schneider said in a statement to Variety at the time: “Everything that happened on the shows Dan ran was carefully scrutinized by dozens of involved adults, and approved by the network. If there was an actual problem with the scenes that some people, now years later are ‘sexualizing,’ they would be taken down, but they are not, they are aired constantly all over the world today still, enjoyed by both kids and parents.”)

Schneider himself said in a video posted after the launch of “Quiet on Set,” “Watching over the past two nights was very difficult. Facing my past behaviors, some of which are embarrassing and that I regret. I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology.”

Schneider’s lawsuit claims that the voiceovers and graphics in “Quiet on Set,” as well as the series’ trailer, “are purposefully and intentionally defamatory in that they falsely and repeatedly state or imply that Schneider is a child sexual abuser and committed crimes in this regard — and have been interpreted as such by countless average, ordinary or reasonable viewers.”

In a separate statement sent to Variety alongside the legal complaint, Schneider wrote: “Recently the docuseries ‘Quiet on Set’ highlighted mistakes I made and poor judgment I exhibited during my time at Nickelodeon, most of which happened decades ago during my early career as a producer, working on shows for Tollin/Robbins Productions. 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. However, after seeing ‘Quiet on Set’ and its trailer, and the reactions to them, I sadly have no choice but to take legal action against the people behind it. In their successful attempt to mislead viewers and increase ratings, they went beyond reporting the truth and falsely implied that I was involved in or facilitated horrific crimes for which actual child predators have been prosecuted and convicted.”

Schneider continued: “I have no objection to anyone highlighting my failures as a boss, but it is wrong to mislead millions of people to the false conclusion that I was in any way involved in heinous acts like those committed by child predators. I owe it to myself, my family, and the many wonderful people involved in making these shows to set the record straight.”

Variety has reached out to ID for comment.

In addition to Dan Schneider, “Quiet on Set” also investigates other people working at Nickelodeon at the time, including dialogue and acting coach Brian Peck. Interviewed in “Quiet on Set” is “Drake & Josh” star Drake Bell, who alleges he was a victim of Peck’s sexual abuse. In 2003, Peck, 43 at the time, was arrested on 11 charges — including sodomy, lewd act upon a child 14 or 15 by a person 10 years older, and oral copulation by anesthesia or controlled substance — but the victim was not previously named.

“Quiet on Set” also mentions Jason Michael Handy, a production assistant who was arrested and charged with a lewd act with a child under 14. The mother of a former child actor who appeared on “The Amanda Show” claimed on “Quiet on Set” that Handy sent her daughter a photograph of him naked, masturbating. Another Nickelodeon staffer, animator Ezel Channel, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for committing lewd acts on a 14-year-old boy and showing him pornography.

From Variety US