Dan Schneider Sues ‘Quiet on Set’ Producers for Defamation In Docuseries

Dan Schneider in 2014

Dan Schneider has sued Investigation Discovery for defamation over his portrayal in Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, accusing the company of falsely implying that he sexually abused children who worked on the Nickelodeon series he created and ran.

Schneider, in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, says his depiction in the five-part docuseries is a “hit job.” While it’s true that two child sexual abusers worked on network shows, he says he had “no knowledge of their abuse,” condemned it and “was not a child sexual abuser himself.”

“But for the sake of clickbait, ratings, and views — or put differently, money — Defendants have destroyed Schneider’s reputation and legacy through the false statements and implications that Schneider is exactly that,” the lawsuit says.

Warner Bros. Discovery, which distributed the project on Max, and producers Maxine Productions and Sony Pictures Television are also named in the complaint. Schneider seeks unspecified damages and a court order forcing producers to remove allegedly defamatory portions of the docuseries or have it completely taken down.

In a statement, Schneider acknowledged “mistakes I made and poor judgment I exhibited during my time at Nickelodeon” but said he had “no choice but to take legal action against the people behind it.” He added, “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.”

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Investigation Discovery didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The docuseries, which debuted in March to massive ratings, chronicles Schneider’s rise to a prolific producer of children’s television series. Among the allegations leveled at the producer is that he largely tolerated a toxic workplace and humiliated the cast and crew on his TV sets. In the third episode, Drake Bell, the star of Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show, came forward as the then-anonymous victim in Brian Peck’s sexual assault case. In a video after the project’s release, Schneider said he didn’t hire the dialogue coach who was convicted in 2004 of sexually assaulting Bell.

In the complaint, Schneider takes issue with producers implying that he sexually abused children who worked on his shows. He points to the opening graphic in the first episode that stated, “This series investigated the abuses experienced by children from the adults they were expected to trust.” Later in the episode, a social media post is shown accusing him of “inappropriate behavior,” followed by images depicting him with his arm around a child actress.

To support allegedly false claims that he was a child predator, the lawsuit says that the docuseries explores the “perversion” of shows he created. There are statements from people in the docuseries that Schneider “made” children “do things that were very weird” in “setups that referenced porn,” according to the complaint.

The episode ends with a voiceover from a reporter stating that a “suspected child predator charged with kissing and touching a nine-year-old girl” has been arrested but that law enforcement believes “there may be more victims,” the lawsuit says. Schneider claims that producers intentionally chose not to show the perpetrator’s likeness or name so viewers conclude that he was the predator.

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In the second episode, viewers are introduced to the sexual abusers, Peck and Jason Handy. The lawsuit targets the docuseries repeatedly cutting to images of him while discussing the duo. It claims that the episode “continues its manipulative use of editing and photographs to conflate Schneider” with Peck and that it “exaggerates” their relationship.

Schneider, in the lawsuit, maintains that he was unaware of Peck’s crimes until it became public record and that he didn’t commit any sex crimes. “The only reason to include Schneider’s image in this context was to falsely equate Schneider with Peck; the viewer is left to infer that just as Peck was a child sexual abuser, so was Schneider,” the complaint states.

Notably, producers at one point in the docuseries note that Schneider was not found to have engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior after then-Nickelodeon parent ViacomCBS launched an investigation. He cites the inclusion of the information as proof that the producers were aware that they were advancing false allegations.

Schneider stresses that the docuseries should’ve clarified in the trailer or early episodes that he didn’t commit any sex crimes. He claims the producers acted with “actual malice and purposeful disregard for the truth,” a necessary element to establish defamation as a public figure. According to the complaint, they chose not to include an interview with a former Nickelodeon president of content who Schneider says refuted the allegedly defamatory narrative.

Following the massive success of Quiet on Set, the directors released a bonus episode and said they plan to continue investigating kids entertainment in Hollywood. The docuseries posted Max’s best streaming numbers to date when it debuted on March 17.

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