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Ex-Nickelodeon producer Schneider sues ‘Quiet on Set’ makers for defamation, sex abuse implications

AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Nickelodeon producer and writer Dan Schneider sued the makers of “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” on Wednesday, alleging the makers of the documentary series wrongly implied that he sexually abused the child actors he worked with.

Schneider filed the defamation suit against Warner Bros. Discovery and other companies behind the series in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Schneider, a former teenage actor, was a central figure in Nickelodeon’s dominance of kid culture in the 1990s and 2000s with his work on the sketch shows “All That,” “The Amanda Show” and “Kenan & Kel,” and as an executive producer on shows including “Zoey 101,” “iCarly” and “Victorious.”

He is also the key figure in “Quiet on Set,” which aired on true crime cable channel ID in March, has since been streaming on Max, and has made major waves among Nickelodeon’s former stars and viewers. It uses cast and crew interviews to describe the shows’ sexualization of young teens and a toxic and abusive work environment that many said Schneider was responsible for. It also includes descriptions of sexual abuse of child actors, including “The Amanda Show” and “Drake & Josh” star Drake Bell, by crew members who were later convicted for it.

But Schneider, who parted ways with Nickelodeon in 2018, said in the suit that the “Quiet on Set” trailer and episodes of the show deliberately mix and juxtapose images and mentions of him with the criminal sexual abusers to imply he was involved.

“‘Quiet on Set’s’ portrayal of Schneider is a hit job,” the suit says. “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.”

The suit names as defendants Warner Bros. Discovery — the parent company of ID and Max — and the show’s production companies, Sony Pictures Television and Maxine Productions.

Emails seeking comment from representatives from the three companies were not immediately returned.

The four-part series suggests that Schneider’s shows had a tendency to put young women in comic situations with sexual implications, and depicts him as an angry and emotionally abusive boss.

It includes direct allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination from women who worked as writers under him on “All That.” They said he showed pornography on his computer in their presence in the writers’ room and asked for massages, joking they would lead to the women’s sketches making the show, which Schneider has denied.

It also includes an interview with Bell in which he describes “extensive” and “brutal” sexual abuse by a dialogue coach when he was 15, and with the mother of another girl who was sexually abused by a crew member.

The Associated Press does not typically name people who say they have been sexually abused unless they come forward publicly, as Bell has.

After the initial release of the show, Schneider broadly apologized in a YouTube video for “past behaviors, some of which are embarrassing and that I regret.”

But the lawsuit says the show and especially its trailer unjustly implicate him in child sexual abuse by showing images of him — including some with his arm around young actors — over discussions of an environment that was unsafe for them.

The suit seeks damages to be determined at trial for what it calls “the destruction of Schneider’s reputation and legacy” through “false statements and implications.”

Nickelodeon, which is not involved in the lawsuit, said in a statement on the series that it cannot “corroborate or negate” allegations from decades ago, but it investigates all formal complaints and has rigorous protocols for working minors.

“Our highest priorities are the well-being and best interests not just of our employees, casts and crew, but of all children,” a network spokesperson said in a statement, “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.”

Article Topic Follows: AP National News

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