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Dan Schneider Sues ‘Quiet on Set’ Creators, Saying Series Defamed Him

The television producer Dan Schneider filed a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday against the creators of the documentary series “Quiet on Set,” which aired accounts of sexual abuse and other inappropriate behavior on sets at Nickelodeon, where Schneider was once a star creator of content.

The five-episode series, “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV,” included interviews from former employees who denounced Schneider as a boss and objected to sexualized humor in his shows, leading him to release a video in March in which he apologized for some of his behavior on the job, such as soliciting massages on set from staff members.

But the show also focused on Nickelodeon employees who had been convicted of child sex crimes — including Brian Peck, a dialogue coach for Nickelodeon, who was sentenced to prison for sexually abusing the “Drake & Josh” star Jared Drake Bell.

Schneider’s lawsuit accuses the documentary of improperly conflating him with those who had been convicted of abusing children and took issue with segments of the series that his lawyers said “falsely and repeatedly state or imply that Schneider is a child sexual abuser.”

“Schneider will be the first to admit that some of what they said is true,” the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, said of the filmmakers. “At times, he was blind to the pain that some of his behavior caused certain colleagues, subordinates and cast members. He will regret and atone for this behavior the rest of his life. But one thing he is not — and the one thing that will forever mar his reputation and career both past and present — is a child sexual abuser.”

Schneider declined to be interviewed for the series, instead issuing a statement that was included in the documentary, in which he denied various accusations leveled against him and said that “everything that happened on the shows I ran was carefully scrutinized by dozens of involved adults.”

The listed defendants in the case include Warner Bros. Discovery, which owns Max, where the series was streamed; Maxine Productions and Sony Pictures Television, which produced it; and Mary Robertson and Emma Schwartz, who directed the series. None of the parties immediately responded to a request for comment.

Calling the series a “hit job,” the lawsuit said that in several instances viewers were led to inaccurately infer that he was a child sexual abuser, including in the trailer, in which a series of photos and video clips of Schneider are followed by the advertisement of a “true crime event.”

“The harm to Schneider’s reputation, career, and business, to say nothing of his own overwhelming emotional distress, cannot be understated,” said the lawsuit, which seeks an unspecified amount of damages.

The lawsuit said that Schneider’s legal representatives had sent a letter demanding that the series “not include any statements that allege or imply that Schneider engaged in any criminal or sexual misconduct,” and that the defendants’ lawyer responded that there were no “statements” that defamed him.

Starting in the 1990s, Schneider created, scripted and produced a string of hits for Nickelodeon including “All That,” “The Amanda Show,” “Drake & Josh” and “Zoey 101.”

But in the spring of 2018, Schneider and Nickelodeon suddenly issued a joint statement announcing their separation. Almost overnight, he largely disappeared from public view.

In 2021, The New York Times reported that before that announcement, ViacomCBS, the parent company of Nickelodeon, had investigated Schneider and found that many people he worked with viewed him as verbally abusive. The company’s review found no evidence of sexual misconduct by Schneider.

The recent documentary series included information about how Schneider and Nickelodeon parted ways, and reported that the investigation into his conduct “did not find any evidence of inappropriate sexual behavior” or “inappropriate relationships with children.”

The series was a ratings hit and stirred up conversations about the appropriateness of some of the material on children’s television. Critics said the shows contained barely veiled sexual innuendo, and Schneider, in his apology video, said he would be willing to cut out parts of the show that were upsetting to people, years after they first aired. At the same time, though, he suggested that the criticism came from adults looking at jokes written for children “through their lens.”

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