Producer Dan Schneider, the creator of some of Nickelodeon’s most-watched children’s and young adult television shows before splitting up under murky circumstances, has finally addressed what happened.
Schneider and Nickelodeon parted ways in 2018. At the time, Nickelodeon was the highest-rated basic cable television network and Schneider was the most successful children’s television producer, with a resume that included creating and producing such hit shows as iCarly, Drake and Josh, Victorious, Kenan and Kel other Henry Danger.
Now, in her first major interview since splitting from Nickelodeon, she spoke to him New York Timesand indicated that he may be planning a return from exile.
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ViacomCBS, Nickelodeon’s parent company, investigated Schneider prior to the 2018 split. The Times article said Schneider’s co-workers praised his attention to detail and work ethic in the investigation, but also noted that many people he worked with considered him verbally abusive.
Schneider defended his leadership style in the interview. It also claimed that it did not part ways with Nickelodeon on bad terms, but said it was the result of a “grueling” period that required the delivery of up to 50 episodes of shows each year.
“I took a break to take care of a lot of things that I had left behind over the decades,” Schneider said. He lost over 100 pounds since he left and said he is still burning for doing something. “Whatever I do next, I want it to top what I did in the past.”
The interview also touched on a more controversial aspect of Schneider’s departure. Internet posts and videos compiled by online residents raised questions about their interactions with child actors in their shows. Certain takes on the barefoot shows and sexual innuendo in some of the jokes were taken as evidence of something darker.
Schneider told the Times that the posts were “ridiculous” and lamented how social media can amplify “any lie.” He denied any attempt to sexualize his young actors.
“The comedy,” he said, “was totally innocent.”
The ViacomCBS investigation came at the height of the #MeToo movement’s emergence in 2018. The Times story claimed that the investigation yielded no evidence of sexual misconduct by Schneider.
However, the investigation found allegations that he could be verbally abusive towards his co-workers at times, with tantrums and angry emails as part of the claims. Those interviewed for the investigation, who were not identified by the Times, also cited their requests for shoulder and neck massages, and their habit of texting child actors after hours.
Schneider declined to discuss the details of the ViacomCBS investigation. He said, “I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t have the long-term friendships and continued loyalty of so many reputable people if I had mistreated my actors of any age, especially minors.”
He added that if some people found him difficult, it was because he has “high standards.” I’m very willing to stand up for the creative things that I believe in, ”he said.
Schneider said that interactions with fans online were done “only in a very public way,” and said: “I never interacted with the actors in any way, texting or otherwise, that should make someone uncomfortable.”
The interview with Schneider took place at the Beverly Hills Hotel for three hours. Schneider hinted at a return pilot, described as “ambitious and very different” who has written and sold to another chain.
The new show, Schneider said, will be designed for “a more adult audience.” He said he is also simultaneously working on a pilot aimed at children and their families.
As for Nickelodeon, Schneider said he has no ill will and wished everyone involved in the resurgence of iCarly currently airing on the channel “the best.”