Former Nickelodeon Dan Schneider has opened up about his 2018 departure from the kid-centric network while denying any untoward behavior.
The 55-year-old producer, writer and occasional actor opened up to The New York Times about his surprise split from Nickelodeon years ago amid rumors that he was verbally abusive and had been inappropriate around his child actors.
Schneider vehemently denies the rumors, including social media speculation that he may have used his young actors to play out foot fetish fantasies.
Fighting back: Dan Schneider, 55, who produced numerous Nickelodeon shows prior to 2018, denied rumors spread on social media that he displayed inappropriate behavior on set in a New York Times interview last week; seen in 2011 in West Hollywood
Amid a review of his conduct on set from ViacomCBS, which owns Nickelodeon, social media users began posting compilations of stills from his various shows, including the newly rebooted iCarly, which featured the actors prominently showing off their bare feet.
Online commentators found the recurring images disturbing, especially as many of the actors showing off their feet were minors, though they weren’t featured in any explicitly sexual or erotic situations.
However, other social media users also used clips from his shows to suggest that Schneider had included sexual innuendos.
The producer and writer was familiar with the posts and called them ‘ridiculous.’
Splitsville: Schneider and Nickelodeon parted ways in 2018, reportedly after an investigation from ViacomCBS concluded he had been verbally abusive to his coworkers; seen in 2014 at the Kids’ Choice Awards
Searching for patterns: Around the time of the #MeToo movement, social media users suggested he may have slipped in sexual content by compiling images of his minor actors showing their bare feet
According to The Times, he blamed social media companies for pushing ‘any lie,’ though the posts appear to have originated with regular users.
Schneider added that feet are just one comic tool, as children often find them silly and funny, and he denied ever trying to sexualize his actors.
‘The comedy was totally innocent,’ he said.
But the questions the posts raised came at the worst possible time for Schneider amid the rise of the #MeToo movement.
An investigation into his on-set conduct didn’t find any evidence of sexual misconduct, but some of his colleagues accused him of being verbally abusive.
Nothing to see here: He defended foot humor as ‘totally innocent’ and said kids find it funny. The investigation found no evidence of sexual misconduct; seen in 2012 with Jennette McCurdy (L) and Ariana Grande (R)
They described him as prone to angry outbursts and said he would often pen furious emails.
But some people interview for the investigation described behavior they found disturbing.
He allegedly asked a costume department employee for massages multiple times, and his text conversations with some of the minor actors could reportedly go on past their work hours.
But Schneider denied any inappropriate behavior with his casts.
‘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.
Can’t take the heat: He claimed that those who found him ‘difficult’ were just reacting negatively to his ‘high standards’; seen in 2017
He claimed that those who found him ‘difficult’ were just reacting negatively to his ‘high standards.’
‘I’m very willing to defend creative things that I believe in,’ he said.
Some former crew members on the set of his series Victorious shared that the main character had a locker covered with photos of hunky men — which included a headshot of the producer when he was younger.
However, he denied adding it himself and suggested it was included as a joke by a member of the art department.
Following the conclusion of the investigation, Nickelodeon and Schneider both sent out statements announcing that they were parting ways.
Cut out: Instead of working on new projects, Schneider has been silent in recent years. He isn’t involved with the new Paramount+ reboot of his Nick series iCarly; still from the iCarly reboot trailer
But instead of working on new projects, the producer has been almost completely absent from the television industry since then, though he still managed to keep the remaining $7 million on his contract.
His series iCarly was released this month in a rebooted version with the original cast for the Paramount+ streaming app, but Schneider is only credited as creator and has no actual involvement with the new series.
Schneider claimed that it was ‘exhausting’ having to complete up to 50 episodes per year when he worked with Nickelodeon.
‘I took a break to take care of a lot of stuff that I’d let go by the wayside for decades,’ Schneider said. ‘Whatever I do next, I want it to outdo what I’ve done in the past.’
Among his accomplishment in the years since he parted ways with the network was a dramatic 100+ pound weight loss.
Getting in shape: ‘Whatever I do next, I want it to outdo what I’ve done in the past,’ Schneider said, before noting that he lost over 100 pounds since his 2018 departure