Dan Schneider Files Defamation Suit Against Quiet on Set Producers, Says Docuseries Is a ‘Hit Job’

Former children’s television producer Dan Schneider is suing the producers of ID’s Quiet on the Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV docuseries, calling the show a “hit job” that implied he was a sexual abuser of children.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by TVLine, states: “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.”

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Quiet on Set directors Emma Schwartz and Mary Robertson are named in the suit, as are Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc.; Maxine Productions; and Sony Pictures Television Inc.

The docuseries aired in March and featured cast and crew members who worked with Schneider at Nickelodeon throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. The interview subjects included Drake & Josh star Drake Bell, who detailed the abuse he suffered at the hands of convicted child sex abuser Brian Peck. Peck appeared on several Nickelodeon series and worked as a dialogue coach on All That and The Amanda Show.

In addition to claims of inappropriate workplace behavior that included sexism and racism, the special also featured crew members alleging that they were continuously asked to massage Schneider on set. “Dan deeply regrets asking anyone for neck massages,” his team said in response. “Though they happened in public settings, he knows this was highly inappropriate and would never happen again.”

Schneider was dropped from Nickelodeon in 2018. At the time, it was reported that “multiple complaints of abusive behavior” had been filed against him by members of his staff. Then, in 2021, it was reported that ViacomCBS had conducted an internal investigation of Schneider ahead of his departure from Nickelodeon; evidence of verbal abuse was found in that investigation, though evidence of sexual misconduct was not.

Quiet on Set and its promotional trailer, the lawsuit continues, paints Schneider as a criminal and danger to children “for the sake of clickbait, ratings and views — or, put differently, money.” The suit cites a “manipulative mix of editing, speech, and imagery” that, Schneider claims, leads the viewer to think he is a convicted child abuser like Peck and production assistant Jason Handy.

In March, Schneider denied allegations that his shows appeared to sexualize young child stars like Ariana Grande and Jamie Lynn Spears.

“Everything that happened on the shows Dan ran was carefully scrutinized by dozens of involved adults and approved by the network,” a representative for Schneider said in a statement at the time. “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.”

The statement continued: “Remember, all stories, dialogue, costumes and makeup were fully approved by network executives on two coasts. A standards and practices group read and ultimately approved every script, and programming executives reviewed and approved all episodes. In addition, every day on every set, there were always parents and caregivers and their friends watching filming and rehearsals. Had there been any scenes or outfits that were inappropriate in any way, they would have been flagged and blocked by this multilayered scrutiny. Unfortunately, some adults project their adult minds onto kids’ shows, drawing false conclusions about them.”

In a new statement obtained by TVLine, Schneider says: “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.

“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.”

TVLine has reached out to ID, Mary Robertson, Warner Bros. Discovery, Maxine Productions and Sony Pictures Television Inc. for comment.

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