Dan Schneider Once Reigned Over Children’s TV. What Happened? (Published 2021) (2022)

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Nickelodeon’s longtime hitmaker separated from the company in 2018 and has been trailed by questions about his abrupt departure. Now he is talking about making a return to television.

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Dan Schneider Once Reigned Over Children’s TV. What Happened? (Published 2021) (1)

By Matt Stevens and Julia Jacobs

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — It was the biggest night of the year for children’s entertainment, and some of Nickelodeon’s top stars from across generations had gathered to honor Dan Schneider, the man who made them famous.

“You not only changed all of our lives — you changed kids’ TV,” said Victoria Justice, the star of “Victorious,” as Schneider prepared to accept Nickelodeon’s first and only Lifetime Achievement Award.

Schneider was at the peak of his powers as he took the stage at that 2014 Kids’ Choice Awards, surrounded by a throng of teenage stars. He had enjoyed an unparalleled run as a Nickelodeon writer and showrunner, helping define the network for two decades with hits like “All That,” “The Amanda Show,” “Drake & Josh,” “Zoey 101,” “Victorious,” and, perhaps his most iconic show, “iCarly.”

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But a mere four years later, the man The New York Times once crowned “the Norman Lear of children’s television” was out at the network. In the spring of 2018, he and Nickelodeon sent a joint statement announcing their separation. Almost overnight, Schneider largely disappeared from public view and returned home with the $7 million still owed on his contract.

His rapid-fire Twitter account quieted. He only rarely made public appearances. And although the announcement that was made when he parted ways with Nickelodeon suggested he would pursue “other opportunities and projects,” for years there were no indications that Schneider, a hit maker who had helped define comedy for Millennials and Gen Z, had any new shows on the way.

This month, when Nickelodeon Studios released its reboot of “iCarly” for the Paramount+ streaming platform, it did so without Schneider, a decision that rekindled the mystery of why a figure at the height of his industry would vanish from the airwaves.

But now interviews with former co-workers, friends and television executives paint a much fuller picture of his departure, his strengths and his weaknesses. They revealed that although Schneider was a hitmaker with an ear for the teen and tween vernacular and humor, he could be difficult to work with. It turns out that, before the announcement about his separation, ViacomCBS, the parent company of Nickelodeon, had investigated Schneider and found that, alongside the many co-workers who praised his attention to detail and work ethic, many people he worked with viewed him as verbally abusive.

Schneider, in his first major interview since the split with Nickelodeon, declined to comment on the investigation. But he defended his leadership style, denied he left on bad terms and described his departure as a natural confluence of events after an “exhausting” period in which he delivered as many as 50 episodes of shows each year.

“I took a break to take care of a lot of stuff that I’d let go by the wayside for decades,” Schneider said, noting that he lost more than 100 pounds during his time off. “Whatever I do next, I want it to outdo what I’ve done in the past.”

The Viacom review came amid internet chatter that trafficked in innuendo about the appropriateness of Schneider’s presence in the world of children’s entertainment.

Online denizens posted compilations that stitched together scenes from Schneider’s shows, videos he has taken on set and pictures of him with child actors, to raise questions about his behavior with the young people he worked with. Shots in the shows of bare feet were presented as evidence of a fetish. Other scenes were dissected and discussed as scripted moments of wink-wink sexual innuendo, acted out by a teenage cast.

Schneider said he was well aware of the postings, which he described as “ridiculous.” He said it was sad that social media companies can freely push forward “any lie.” Kids find feet goofy and funny, he said, and there was no effort to sexualize his young stars.

“The comedy,” he said, “was totally innocent.”

But the internet noise had garnered the attention of Schneider’s bosses by 2018, when the #MeToo movement had arrived.

ViacomCBS interviewed dozens of employees, according to four people with knowledge of the review who said they were not authorized to discuss it. The review found no evidence of sexual misconduct by Schneider, the people said, but it did find he could be verbally abusive to people he worked with.

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Some former colleagues, in recent interviews, said they found him a controlling, difficult showrunner, prone to tantrums and angry emails — a man with a delicate ego who made some staff members feel as though they were always walking on eggshells. Several said they felt uncomfortable when he frequently asked an employee from the costume department for shoulder and neck massages, or texted child actors outside of work hours.

Schneider said he never acted inappropriately with people with whom he worked. “I couldn’t, and I wouldn’t have the long-term friendships and continued loyalty from so many reputable people if I’d mistreated my actors of any age, especially minors,” he said.

And he said that if people perceived him as “difficult,” it was because he has “high standards.”

“I’m very willing to defend creative things that I believe in,” he said.

To understand the void left when Schneider departed Nickelodeon, one has to consider the heights to which he helped propel the network. Schneider and the network grew up together, some of his former colleagues said, building a space for children and family programming from essentially nothing into the highest-rated network on basic cable TV.

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Schneider’s body of work for Nickelodeon tended to be fast-paced, gag-filled laugh-track sitcoms that punctuated plot lines about friendship and adolescent exploits with jokes that were goofy and outlandish enough to get laughs out of tweens. From the dancing lobsters in “The Amanda Show” to the spaghetti tacos of “iCarly,” Schneider’s shows helped shape Nickelodeon’s comedy kingdom into a world where kids appeared to have the power to make their wildest thoughts into reality.

“There’s a certain musical cadence to sitcom acting,” said Yvette Nicole Brown, who played Helen on “Drake & Josh.” “Dan just hears the music.”

Comedy had long been a tool for Schneider, now 57, who grew up in Memphis, surrounded by what he described as a warm and funny family. By age 7, Schneider said that he was the most overweight student in his class and saw comedy as a road to acceptance.

“I wouldn’t be thought of as the fattest kid in the class if they thought I was the funniest kid in the class,” he said.

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Academics were not Schneider’s strong suit. His preferred teachers growing up were TV writers like Susan Harris, Larry Gelbart and Carl Reiner, and he studied their work intently. After returning home from a brief stint in Boston and taking a job repairing Apple computers, he managed to land a part in a movie, “Making the Grade,” that did its casting in Memphis.

He was later cast in the ’80s sitcom “Head of the Class” along with Brian Robbins, who is now the president of kids and family entertainment for ViacomCBS. By the late 1980s, Schneider had been recruited to co-host the second ever Kids’ Choice Awards with Robbins and had developed a friendship with Albie Hecht, who, at the time, was involved in comedy development at Nickelodeon. Schneider and Robbins would end up working together in the 1990s on “All That” — an “S.N.L.”-style sketch comedy show for kids that Robbins cocreated. “All That” originally ran for 10 seasons and, over the years, featured actors like Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Amanda Bynes and Jamie Lynn Spears.

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Tracy Katsky, a former Nickelodeon executive who worked with Schneider during the height of “iCarly’s” popularity years later, said he was a rare adult who fully understood how to write for kids. He refused to rely on wordplay, she said, because he knew that segments of his audience would not understand it.

Schneider himself said he would often ask his young actors directly whether they thought a joke in the script was funny.

“The network knew, no matter how much they wanted the show to be a hit, they knew I wanted it more,” he said.

Many of Schneider’s allies said he reminds them in some ways of a big kid — one who respects his young viewers as his equals and who was uniquely (and profitably) able to tap into what they would find funny. He is a fan of “Star Trek,” and has a penchant for timepieces and vintage lunchboxes. He is obsessed with his pets, and even had his pet rabbit Cookie ferried from Los Angeles to San Diego so that the rabbit could receive medical care from a particular veterinarian.

Schneider’s blog and YouTube channel from when he was Nickelodeon’s star showrunner captured the way he would interact with teenage actors and young fans of the show — like he was of their generation. He posted a video of him spooking the “iCarly” actress Miranda Cosgrove as she walked into a room, as well as one of Justice as he cajoles her into eating a sardine; on his blog, he would share “fun facts” about his episodes and solicit comments from fans (while routinely reminding them to “be nice” to one another in the forum).

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But some people who worked on Schneider’s shows, and asked for anonymity because they said they feared reprisal from him, said they viewed his chumminess with his young actors as awkward and odd for a powerful, middle-aged showrunner. Several recalled that he often spent time during the work day interacting with young fans online and, after work, texting child actors about silly matters of teenage internet life.

Was it research? A desire to be popular? Former crew members recalled that Justice’s character had a locker on the set of “Victorious” decorated with photos of young men, alongside the words “dudealicious” and “who’s hot?” One of the photos was a headshot of a young Dan Schneider.

Schneider said the locker decoration was likely added by someone in the art department and that it was never his goal as a showrunner to be popular or recognized. As for interacting with fans online, he said that he did so “only in very public ways” that were fully transparent to his colleagues. Among the teenage actors on his shows, he added, texting was often the preferred mode of communication.

“I never interacted with actors in any way, texting or otherwise, that should make anyone uncomfortable,” he said.

Former crew members also said Schneider seemed to imagine himself as the king of Nick on Sunset, the network’s former soundstage. He had a private bathroom next to the one most other staff members used. Three former colleagues recalled occasions when staff members pushed him from one room to another in a roller chair so that he could keep working en route.

Other former colleagues described him as a workaholic, prone to yelling, who expected associates to work 16- or 20-hour days alongside him and writers to work on weekends at his home.

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(Video) The Dan Schneider Controversy Explained

“I will always be grateful to Dan for taking a chance on me as a rash young writer fresh out of college, and for all I learned over the next six years,” said Arthur Gradstein, who worked as a writer and producer with Schneider across four shows. “Much of my experience with him was a blast: He could be generous and validating, and it was exciting to be around his talent and passion for creating entertainment.”

“But he was also unreasonably demanding, controlling, belittling and vindictive,” Gradstein continued, “with a wilful disregard for boundaries or workplace appropriateness.”

Some of Schneider’s former colleagues lamented that Hollywood has long been a tough place to work — an ecosystem where a successful, creative showrunner like Schneider could wield vast power and sometimes get a pass for managing in unproductive ways. The difference, they said, was that Schneider brought his style to bear on children’s television.

But several of Schneider’s former colleagues, including Brown and Katsky, said they never saw him lose his cool. They credited him with a zealous attention to detail and said his refusal to compromise or settle was what made his shows so popular. While some producers might use a simple cellphone prop, for example, Schneider asked his production team to design a “PearPhone,” a parody of Apple devices that were then used in some of Schneider’s shows.

“I know some people, they’ll say, ‘He’s tough,’” said Lauren Levine, a former Nickelodeon executive who worked closely with Schneider on the TV movie “Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh.” “To me it was never tough for tough sake. He has a vision that he wants to make happen.”

“It was never ego in my experience,” she added. “It was always what serves the show.”

Schneider disputed the accounts that depicted him as an entitled or harsh boss. He said the bathrooms in or near his office were used by others, the work hours were standard for the industry and that if he had ever been pushed around in a chair, “it would have only been as a joke.”

If his emails sounded “frustrated or impatient,” he said, it was likely because he was early on in his career as a producer and was trying to make his shows a success.

“Over the years, I’ve grown and matured as a producer and leader,” he said. “I’m sure I’m better and more gentle at communicating today.”

These days, after his three-year hiatus, Schneider seems set on returning to television and reintroducing his brand of comedy to new audiences. During a three-hour interview at the Beverly Hills Hotel, he discussed the state of children’s television and his plan to bring forward an “ambitious and very different” pilot that he has written and sold to another network.

The new show is aimed at “more of an adult audience,” he said, and he should know by the end of July whether it has been greenlit. He is working simultaneously on other projects in development, including one pilot meant for kids and their families.

He said he bears no ill will toward Nickelodeon, and says he wishes everyone involved with the “iCarly” revival “the best.”

But even as he looked to the future, Schneider, in the interview, considered his legacy, a period of time when his name was “all over” the credits of the many hit shows.

“I don’t want to be an old man some day,” he said, “and look it up and see some episode of one of the shows I did and go, ‘ugh,’ and be disappointed in myself.”

Brooks Barnes, John Koblin and Emily Steel contributed reporting. Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

FAQs

What Happened to Nickelodeon Dan Schneider? ›

Schneider, who left the network in 2018 after an internal investigation determined that he could be “verbally abusive” to co-workers, was responsible for many Nickelodeon hits, including The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Victorious, and Zoey 101.

What did Dan Schneider produce? ›

Dan Schneider

Does Nickelodeon studios still exist? ›

The studio closed permanently on April 30, 2005, after much of Nickelodeon's production had moved to Nickelodeon on Sunset. Nickelodeon Studios ended its run having produced over 2,000 episodes of original programming.

How old was Ariana Grande in Victorious? ›

The "Problem" singer was just a little-known (and very different looking) 16-year-old actress with a supporting role on the Nickelodeon show, "Victorious."

Who created iCarly? ›

Dan Schneider

What shows was Dan Schneider in? ›

Dan Schneider

Where does Dan Schneider The pharmacist live? ›

Central to the series is Dan Schneider, a pharmacist living in St. Bernard Parish in Louisiana, a community located southeast of New Orleans, who becomes an unlikely hero.

How old is Dan warp? ›

Why did they get rid of Nickelodeon Studios? ›

Due to decrease in the size of audiences attending the live recordings of shows and waning interest in game shows and sitcoms, (which were the sole output of Nickelodeon Studios) more than half of business was being lost.

What is replacing Blue Man Group at Universal? ›

Blue Man Group Theatre
Closing dateFebruary 1, 2021
ReplacedNickelodeon Studios
Replaced byTBA
Ride statistics
17 more rows

Can you meet paw patrol at Universal? ›

PAW Patrol: The Ride is a ride that opened at Universal Orlando. It is a ride that guests can ride through and see the PAW Patrol rescue Katie and Cali from a burning building.

How much does Ariana Grande make per episode? ›

How much did Ariana Grande make on Victorious? Grande reportedly made $9,000 per episode for Season 1 of Victorious, likely getting pay increases for subsequent seasons. If we assume her pay stayed at $9,000 per episode, we can calculate that she made, at minimum, $513,000.

What is Ariana Grande's real name? ›

Ariana Grande's birth name is Ariana Grande-Butera. Grande is her mother's maiden name. She does not have a middle name, as she made very clear in this tweet. She is "Italian American, half Sicilian and half Abruzzese."

Why did they stop Victorious? ›

The actor said that she was not involved in the cancellation of their show. She also added the reason Victorious got cancelled was subject to Nickelodeon and the executives, and that she loved the cast and the show. Thus, the actual reason behind why did Victorious get cancelled happens to be unknown.

Why did Sam and cat get canceled? ›

It sounds like Sam & Cat came to an end for a combination of reasons — pay disputes, negative rumors swirling around the cast, and a tough relationship between the two co-stars. Details are still vague, unfortunately.

Is iCarly appropriate for 9 year olds? ›

ICarly is not for kids.

This is not for children younger than 13.

When was Sam and Cat Cancelled? ›

Is Dan Schneider a part of the iCarly reboot? ›

Since his split from Nickelodeon three years ago, Schneider hasn't worked on any high-profile projects. He was not involved in the eagerly anticipated iCarly reboot, which premiered on Paramount+ on June 17, 2021.

Did Dan Schneider work on Danger force? ›

Starring alongside them are Havan Flores, Terrence Little Gardenhigh, Dana Heath, and Luca Luhan.
...
Danger Force
GenreComedy
Created byChristopher J. Nowak Dan Schneider & Dana Olsen
Developed byChristopher J. Nowak
StarringCooper Barnes Michael D. Cohen Havan Flores Terrence Little Gardenhigh Dana Heath Luca Luhan
21 more rows

Is Daniel Schneider still married? ›

Danielle Caroline Schneider (born January 1, 1975) is an American actress, writer, and improvisational comedian from the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.
...
Danielle Schneider
OccupationActress, comedian, writer, podcaster
Years active1998–present
SpouseMatt Besser ​ ( m. 2008)​
Children1
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Is Dopesick a true story? ›

"Dopesick" is a fictionalized version of reporter Beth Macy's book of the same name about the country's opioid crisis and the irresponsible marketing of Purdue Pharma's addictive painkiller OxyContin. Loyd, the former Tennessee opioid epidemic czar, himself once abused pain pills, taking as many as 100 a day.

What happened to the DR from The Pharmacist? ›

She struck a plea deal, and received three months probation, after which time she all but disappeared from the public eye.

How old is Lisa lillien? ›

Did Dan Schneider go to Harvard? ›

Prior to joining Harvard, he was a faculty member in the Department of Sociology at UC Berkeley and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar in Health Policy Research at Berkeley/UCSF.

Where did Dan Schneider go to school? ›

Schneider was born into a family with three older sisters in Memphis, Tennessee on January 14th, 1966. He became his Senior class president at White Station High School. After high school, he went to his father's alma mater, Harvard, for one semester.

Are Max and Dan Schneider related? ›

He's not related to Dan Schneider, the writer of iCarly and Victorious. He's Jewish, but had an African coming of age ceremony instead of a Bar Mitzvah.

Why did Game shakers get canceled? ›

The series stars Cree Cicchino, Madisyn Shipman, Benjamin "Lil' P-Nut" Flores, Jr., Thomas Kuc, and Kel Mitchell. The show was abruptly canceled after Dan Schneider was fired from Nickelodeon in early 2018.

What happened to McCurdy on iCarly? ›

Jennette McCurdy appeared on all six seasons of iCarly between 2007 and 2012 and reprised her role as Sam Puckett for the spinoff Sam & Cat. However, she officially confirmed her retirement from acting in 2017 and did not star in the Paramount+ reboot of iCarly.

Why did Zoey 101 stop? ›

Lead cast member Jamie Lynn Spears spoke to Nylon in 2020 about the show's conclusion as she opened up on her acting career to date. She said that the real reason Zoey 101 ended was because the show had simply run its course and it was the right time for the cast to move on to other projects.

What is Jennette McCurdy doing now? ›

McCurdy is still acting and she's now a bestselling author.

In 2020, she began performing her tragic-comedy one-woman show "I'm Glad My Mom Died" in Los Angeles. She hosts the podcast "Empty Inside," where she has spoken about her horrible experience with past roles, including when she played Sam on "iCarly."

Is Game Shakers coming back in 2021? ›

The decision comes as Nickelodeon has opted to cancel Schneider's latest series, Game Shakers after three seasons.

Who is the richest in Game Shakers? ›

Cree Cicchino net worth: Cree Cicchino is an American actress who has a net worth of $500 thousand. She is most well known for starring on the TV series Game Shakers.
...
Cree Cicchino Net Worth.
Net Worth:$500 Thousand
Date of Birth:May 9, 2002 (20 years old)
Profession:Actress

Does Game Shakers really exist? ›

Game Shakers (the company) is a company in Game Shakers. It is located in Brooklyn, New York. It is created by two 14-years old girls, Kenzie Bell & Babe Carano and has other people who help and promote the company like Hudson, Triple G & Double G.

Why was Sam and Cat Cancelled? ›

It sounds like Sam & Cat came to an end for a combination of reasons — pay disputes, negative rumors swirling around the cast, and a tough relationship between the two co-stars.

Who is Jennette McCurdy biological father? ›

McCurdy was raised in Garden Grove, California, in a relatively poor Mormon family, though she ultimately left the religion in her early adulthood. Her mother, Debra McCurdy, home-schooled her and her three older brothers. Her father, Mark McCurdy, worked two jobs.

Is Jennette McCurdy still friends with Miranda? ›

But that's not to say there's anything personal between McCurdy and Cosgrove, as the two remain friends. In promotion of her book, McCurdy took part in an interview for Entertainment Tonight, and here's what she had to say when asked about her relationship with Cosgrove. "I love Miranda to pieces. I always will.

Was Zoey pregnant in the last episode? ›

Right, well, shortly after the series finale aired, it came out that Jamie Lynn Spears was expecting her first child at 16. A lot of fans blamed the end of the show on her pregnancy, but now, Jamie Lynn is speaking her truth and clarifying the actual truth.

Did Zoey 101 get pregnant? ›

Jamie Lynn Spears was just 16 when she fell pregnant with her daughter Maddie in 2007. The Zoey 101 star, who was in a relationship with Casey Aldridge, 18, at the time, revealed the pregnancy in a December 2007 cover story with OK! magazine.

Why is Chase not in season 4? ›

The real life reason on why Chase only appeared in 2 episodes of Season 4 is because Sean Flynn wanted to focus on school. However, his decision to pursue school over the show is a decision he ultimately regrets, claiming it turned out to be a mistake.

How much money did Jennette McCurdy make on iCarly? ›

How much did Jennete McCurdy make on "i-Carly"? "iCarly" star Jennette received $50,000 per episode. She stated on her podcast that she would not participate in the 2021 reboot "I quit a few years ago because I initially didn't want to do it.

How old is Jennette McCurdy today? ›

What did Jennette McCurdy say about Ariana Grande? ›

Ariana misses work in pursuit of her music career while I act with a box,” McCurdy jokes. McCurdy says that her past, childish jealousy of the “Positions” pop star is actually hilarious if done right.

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