Dan Schneider sues “Quiet on Set” producers alleging defamation, calls child abuse doc a 'hit job'

The former Nickelodeon producer and showrunner says the five-part ID series "went beyond reporting the truth and falsely implied that I was involved in or facilitated horrific crimes."

Dan Schneider, the former Nickelodeon producer who has been accused of creating a toxic and abusive work environment on TV series including The Amanda Show and Drake and Josh, is suing the producers of the recent docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV for defamation.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court and reviewed by Entertainment Weekly, Schneider's legal team calls Quiet on Set a "hit job" and argues that Warner Bros. Discovery, Maxine Productions, Sony Pictures Television, and producers Mary Robertson and Emma Schwartz falsely stated and implied that he is a sexual abuser. He is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, and legal fees, as well as injunctive relief in the form of a takedown of some or all of Quiet on Set and its trailer.

Released in March and April, Quiet on Set features former Nickelodeon stars and crew members discussing allegations of racism, sexual harassment, sexism, and verbal abuse on sets headed by Schneider, who left the network in 2018. The series establishes that two convicted child abusers, Brian Peck and Jason Handy, worked on Schneider's shows. In perhaps the most pivotal moment in the docuseries, Drake Bell details the "extensive" sexual abuse that he endured from Peck, a dialogue coach who worked on The Amanda Show and ultimately served time in prison for his crimes.

<p>Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic</p> Dan Schneider in 2004

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Dan Schneider in 2004

In a statement provided to Entertainment Weekly on Wednesday, Schneider said, "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."

He added, "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."

Representatives for Robertson, Schwartz, Maxine Productions, Sony, and WBD didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.

Schneider's 24-page complaint outlines numerous instances in the five episodes of Quiet on Set that allegedly imply that Schneider is a child molester or child abuser.

"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 complaint says. It also argues that the defendants intentionally made false claims and implications about Schneider "for clickbait, ratings, and views — or simply put, money."

Quiet on Set does not explicitly state that Schneider sexually abused children at any point. However, the lawsuit argues that by showing images, footage, and testimonies involving Schneider alongside statements about Peck and Handy — as well as vague language about abusers and predators in general — the documentary and its trailer suggest that Schneider, too, was sexually abusive.

The day after the third and fourth episodes premiered, Schneider responded in a 19-minute video discussing some of the allegations. "Watching over the past two nights was very difficult," he said in a conversation with iCarly actor BooG!e. "Me facing my past behaviors — some of which are embarrassing and that I regret and I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology."

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