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The Dan Schneider Controversy Explained

For years, prolific producer Dan Schneider occupied a prominent place in the world of children's television. Throughout the late '90s and '00s, Schneider and his Schneider's Bakery banner oversaw numerous hit shows on Nickelodeon, including "All That," "Kenan & Kel," "Drake & Josh," and "iCarly" (via IMDb). At the height of his fame, Schneider was likened to fellow TV titan Norman Lear by The New York Times — a comparison that should indicate just how respected he was at one point in time.

Then, in March 2018, Schneider's time at Nickelodeon suddenly ended amid allegations of verbal abuse and questionable treatment of the young stars who appeared on his shows. Investigations were reportedly conducted by ViacomCBS, and the two parties eventually parted ways. Nickelodeon and Schneider issued a joint statement addressing his departure: "Following many conversations together about next directions and future opportunities, Nickelodeon and our long-time creative partner Dan Schneider/Schneider's Bakery have agreed to not extend the current deal. Since several Schneider's Bakery projects are wrapping up, both sides agreed that this is a natural time for Nickelodeon and Schneider's Bakery to pursue other opportunities and projects" (via Deadline).

In the immediate wake of Schneider's exit, he remained out of the public eye and did not comment on the events of 2018. Now, three years later, the "iCarly" producer is back on the record addressing these sensitive topics. In a June interview with The New York Times, Schneider opened up about his departure from Nickelodeon and commented on the allegations against him that accompanied news of his exit.

In 2018, allegations against Dan Schneider during his time at Nickelodeon were made public

At the time of Dan Schneider's exit from Nickelodeon, reports had been swirling of possible controversial behavior on set. The March 2018 Deadline report on the producer's split with the kid-friendly TV network included notes about allegations of Schneider's temper disrupting work, production delays, ballooning budgets, and "complaints of abusive behavior" against him filed by his staff. More concerning was a section of Deadline's report that contained the following: "For years, Schneider had been under a cloud of suspicion over the treatment of some younger stars of his shows. Among the things that have raised eyebrows are his tweeted photos of the toes of his young female stars." 

A ViacomCBS investigation found that Schneider was allegedly yelling and throwing tantrums, as well as sending angry emails and texts to child actors outside of working hours, according to a July 2021 Deadline report. He also allegedly asked for shoulder and neck massages. Addressing the accusations, the producer told The New York Times (via People) that he "never interacted with actors in any way, texting or otherwise, that should make anyone uncomfortable."

"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, calling the controversy over the feet pics "ridiculous." Schneider claimed that if anyone he worked with over the years saw him as "difficult," it was because of the "high standards" he held for his work. The longtime producer admitted, however, that he may have been a little harsh at times. "Over the years, I've grown and matured as a producer and leader," Schneider said. "I'm sure I'm better and more gentle at communicating today."

A former colleague claimed Dan Schneider was 'demanding' and 'vindictive'

The New York Times spoke to people from Dan Schneider's past in addition to the producer for the June 2021 interview. Arthur Gradstein, a writer and producer who worked with Schneider on four different shows, recalled the stresses of their partnership (also via People). Gradstein told the newspaper, "[Schneider] 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 with a willful disregard for boundaries or workplace appropriateness."

Gradstein is one of many people who have publicly engaged with Schneider and the allegations he faces. Several unnamed sources also spoke to the NYT and corroborated previous reports of Schneider's allegedly abusive ways. Previously, fans compiled instances where feet were featured on a Schneider-produced show for bizarre reasons in an effort to highlight a possible connection to Schneider and allegations against him of inappropriate behavior involving child actors (via Nicki Swift).

While Schneider did not specifically mention the allegations in the NYT 2021 interview, he did note that his 2018 departure from Nickelodeon was due to things he had long ignored over the years. "I took a break to take care of a lot of stuff that I'd let go by the wayside for decades," he explained.

Dan Schneider's future is uncertain in the wake of these allegations

Three years after his departure from Nickelodeon, Dan Schneider told The New York Times he was ready to return to work. He explained, "I don't want to be an old man someday and look it up and see some episode of one of the shows I did and go, 'Ugh,' and be disappointed in myself. Whatever I do next, I want it to outdo what I've done in the past."

While details are unclear, Schneider claimed to have a comeback pilot in the works, which he described to the NYT as "ambitious and very different." The show will be reportedly be geared more towards an adult audience.

Overall, Scheider reportedly holds no grudges against Nickelodeon over his exit. The NYT story found no evidence of sexual misconduct by Schneider, nor did the ViacomCBS investigation, which occurred at the height of the #MeToo movement (via Chicago Tribune). Schneider said he ultimately wishes the channel "the best" on its future endeavors, including the "iCarly" reboot currently airing on Paramount+.