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Ex- Nickelodeon Producer Dan Schneider Files Lawsuit After “Quiet on Set” allegations 

A picture of the "Nickelodeon" logo on a TV screen.

After the release of the documentary series, “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids’ TV,” conversations about Nickelodeon have skyrocketed. From sexism and racism to inappropriate relationships with underaged actors, producer Dan Schneider is facing long-awaited criticism. In response, Schneider has denounced the claims made and filed a lawsuit. Here’s everything we know. 

Credit: Investigation Discovery / Youtube

What is Quiet on Set?

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids’ TV, is a documentary made by the streaming platform Max, which focuses on the behind-the-scenes of popular Nickelodeon shows such as All That and Drake and Josh. In the series, workers and actors come forward with their stories of abuse, sexism, racism, and feeling trapped in inappropriate situations.

Chrissy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen (All That)

Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen, two writers for All That, talked about their experiences in episode 1. They explained how they were the only women writers on staff and were made very aware of this. Schneider had them splitting one salary, claiming it was because they were new. However, he later hired two male writers who each received their own salaries. Schneider also stated that women weren’t funny and subjected them to humiliating and sexist acts.

One day in the writers’ room, Christy Stratton pitched a story about her high school experience. Before she could finish, he insisted that she tell the story while reenacting being sodomized over the table. Although she didn’t want to, given Schneider’s pushiness and power, she did it.

Credit: Investigation Discovery / Youtube

Bryan Hearne (All That)

Racism was also prevalent on the sets of Dan Schneider’s shows. Actor Bryan Hearne questioned whether he was treated differently than the other kids. He wore a costume that looked like it had penises on the side of his head, had to wear a bodysuit matching his skin color while dogs picked peanut butter off him, and often got roles full of racial stereotypes. Despite this, Hearne refused to speak up for fear of being fired. However, his mother eventually stood up for him, leading to his dismissal from the show.

Drake Bell (All That and Drake and Josh)

The biggest allegation in the show came from Drake Bell, the co-star of Drake and Josh. Episode 3 recounts how Brian Peck, Bell’s dialogue coach, groomed him during his time on Nickelodeon.

Bell met Peck during season 2 of The Amanda Show and developed a very close relationship. Peck started spending a lot of time with Bell outside of work, inviting him to his house to rehearse, taking him to Disneyland, having him sleep over, and isolating Bell from his father.

Drake Bell at the 2014 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards
Credit: Ga Fulner / Shutterstock

Bell explained how he felt Brian got a sense that his dad was “on the watch” and started to interfere with their relationship. For instance, Peck told Bell that his dad was causing problems on set and stealing his money. Due to this, Bell decided not to make him his manager anymore, and he went on to live with his mother.

With his dad out of the picture, Peck’s behavior worsened. During one of their sleepovers, Bell woke up to Peck assaulting him. This continued for months. Bell explained the abuse by saying, “Why don’t you think of the worst things someone can do to somebody as a sexual assault, and that will answer your question.”

Bell kept the abuse to himself until he started dating his girlfriend and staying at her house more frequently. One day, Peck incessantly called his girlfriend’s house, trying to get Bell to come over. Her mother intervened, stating, “A forty-something-year-old man does not call my daughter’s boyfriend like that.”

After the news came out, Brian Peck went on trial. Bell explained how his side of the court was just his mom, sister, and brother, while Peck’s side was full. Interestingly, he also said that Dan Schneider was the only one he felt supported by. However, Schneider and Nickelodeon are responsible for allowing Peck and other criminals to work on their sets. With the accumulation of these accusations, the conversation about the culture of Schneider’s Nickelodeon finally came to light.

@clips4.20

Part 1 | Drake bell confesses everything after 20 years of silence 😳 Follow for more 🚨 #nickelodeon #drakebell #fyp #foryou #viral

♬ original sound – Clips 4:20
Credit: @clips4.20 / TikTok

Jeanette McCurdy (iCarly)

Many other actors outside of Quiet on Set have spoken up about Schneider. Former iCarly star, Jeanette McCurdy was one of the first to speak out about her experience in her memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died. She uses the name “the creator” when referring to Schneider. In her story, she explains how he was emotionally manipulative and abusive. He would be kind and uplifting one moment, and cruel the next. This created a hostile and unsettling environment on set.

A picture of Jennette McCurdy at "The To Do List" Los Angeles Premiere.
Credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock

McCurdy also tells a story in her book about Schneider’s advances, including trying to give her a back massage and get her to drink alcohol while working. When she refuses, he claims that the kids on his other show Victorious did it all the time and that the iCarly kids needed to “loosen up.”

Alexa Nikolas (Zoey 101)

Although Alexa appears in the documentary, it doesn’t cover much about her story in these episodes. The actress portrayed “Nicole” on Zoey 101 until she was bullied off the set. Jamie Lynn Spears, the star of Zoey 101, viewed her unfavorably which lead the rest of the cast to treat her poorly. Even Jamie’s older sister, pop star Britney Spears, participated in the abuse. Alexa didn’t tolerate this mistreatment and quit on the spot. Since then, she has dedicated her life to activism.

Nikolas runs an activist group called Eat Predators, where she challenges and speaks up against the type of claims made in the documentary. She claims that Nickelodeon is not the only place in Hollywood to abuse its power, and she protests and speaks out on her podcast with the same name.

Alexa Nikolas holding up a sign saying "Nickelodeon Didn't Protect Me" outside of Nickelodeon headquarters.
Credit: @matchthesource / Instagram

Former Stars Speak Out After Quiet on Set

Following the documentary, many former Nickelodeon stars have told their story. Avan Jogia, or “Beck” from the show Victorious, mentioned in a TikTok how the cast constantly drank during their show. He claimed he doesn’t remember much of filming the show but recalls going out and partying with the cast every night. This explains the criticism that his character often looked dazed and confused.

A screenshot from @avan.jogia's TikTok about how he does not remember filming anything on the Nickelodeon sitcom "Victorious"
Credit: @avan.jogia / TikTok

Jack Salvatore Jr., “Mark” from Zoey 101, also posted a TikTok after the documentary aired. In his video he runs off numerous horrible things Schneider did on set. From making his employees massage him to counting his gold coin collection in front of his employees living paycheck to paycheck, the amount that he got away with is appalling. Salvatore explained how although speaking up risks his career, it is crucial to prevent this type of work culture from ever happening again.

Credit: @Jacksalvs / TikTok

The most recent star to speak up is actor Lori Denberg, one of the first stars in All That Season 1. According to Denberg, Schnieder called her after a female producer spoke about her weight. He first said how he should be the one to have this conversation with her, but the conversation quickly shifted to something darker when he turned on his computer. Before she realized it, Schneider played pornography on his computer, with the “grand finale” being a video of a woman performing oral sex on a donkey.

Denberg explained that she had been put in countless uncomfortable situations following the incident, such as him initiating phone sex with her.

@pophive

Former Nickelodeon star, Lori Beth Denburg, has come forward with allegations against Dan Schneider. #DanSchneider #LoriBethDenburg #AllThat #Nickelodeon #QuietOnSet

♬ original sound – Pop Hive by RapTV
Credit: @pophive / TikTok

Schneider’s Response and Lawsuit

Shortly after the release of Quiet on Set, Schneider responded. He released an interview with one of his former actors Bobbie Bowman, who portrayed ‘T-bo’ on iCarly, and interviewed him to “address everything.” 

The public criticized this for several reasons. Firstly, having a former co-star as the interviewer—an adult male from the show who likely did not experience many of the situations under scrutiny—created an impression of bias.

Credit: @isaiahjaay1 / TikTok

On May 1st, shortly after the interview, Schneider filed his lawsuit against Warner Bros and Sony Pictures. He is suing for defamation, claiming the documentary was a “hit job” on him. Schneider stated the documentary falsely implied that he “sexually abused the children who worked on his television shows.”

The lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, names Maxine Productions, Sony Pictures Television, and Warner Brothers Discovery as defendants. Nickelodeon, which is not involved in the case, stated that while it could not “corroborate or negate” the allegations from decades ago, it investigates all formal complaints and has rigorous protocols for working with minors.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Nickelodeon said this: “Our highest priorities are the wellbeing and best interests not just of our employees, casts and crew, but of all children and we have adopted numerous safeguards over the years to help ensure we are living up to our own high standards and the expectations of our audience.”

The court documents highlight that although two people who worked on Nickelodeon shows were later convicted of sexual offenses, Schneider had no knowledge of, nor was he complicit in, their abuse. As the case unfolds, there will be more updates.

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