Dan Schneider Breaks Silence After Watching ‘Quiet on Set’ Doc: “It Hurts Really Bad” (Exclusive)

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An apologetic and at times emotional Dan Schneider has broken his silence after viewing Investigation Discovery’s Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, a four-part docuseries that made claims about toxic workplaces for child actors and crews on Nickelodeon series he created and ran.

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“Watching over the past two nights was very difficult — me facing my past behaviors, some of which are embarrassing and that I regret. I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology,” Schneider told BooG!E, who played T-Bo on iCarly, in a 19-minute video interview that was shot after the former Nickelodeon producer watched Quiet on Set, which aired Sunday and Monday nights on ID and Max.

Among the allegations leveled at Schneider — who was once called the “Norman Lear of children’s television” in The New York Times — include that he tolerated toxic workplace conditions and that he allegedly tormented and humiliated the cast and crew on his TV sets.

“When I watched the show, I could see the hurt in some people’s eyes, and it made me feel awful and regretful and sorry. I wish I could go back, especially to those earlier years of my career, and bring the growth and the experience that I have now and just do a better job and never, ever feel like it was OK to be an asshole to anyone, ever,” Schneider said in the video exclusively obtained by The Hollywood Reporter (watch below).

The prolific kids TV producer had stayed tightlipped in the weeks leading up to the ID doc series premiere. But, on Monday, after the first night aired, representatives for Schneider responded to claims about sexualized content and toxic on-set behavior by saying that “everything that happened on the shows Dan ran was carefully scrutinized by dozens of involved adults, and approved by the network.”

Now, he’s speaking directly and addressing specific allegations and stories of abuse.

In the third episode of Quiet on Set, Drake Bell, the star of Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show, named himself as the John Doe victim in Brian Peck’s sexual assault case. Schneider in the new video claims he did not hire the Nickelodeon dialogue coach who was convicted of sexually assaulting a child actor in 2004, now known to be Bell. Bell’s name was never previously revealed in open court.

“When Drake and I talked and he told me about what happened, I was more devastated by that than anything that ever happened to me in my career thus far. And I told him, ‘I’m here for you,'” Schneider said in the video.

At one point in the interview, Schneider teared up when recounting Bell’s mother coming to him for help to write a speech to read before the court at Peck’s trial: “She came to me at the time, and she said, ’Dan, I’m not good with words like you are. And would you help me with my speech for the judge? I said, ‘Of course.’ I did, and [Peck] ended up going to prison and serving his time.”

Schneider also recounted Bell having to attend a sentencing hearing for Peck where the convicted predator’s side of the courtroom was filled with supporters. “A lot of them [were] pretty famous. Of course, Drake was devastated that that happened. And even more disappointing, 41 of those people wrote letters for Peck’s character, letters praising him for who he was and asking for leniency,” he recalled.

Hollywood stars named in Quiet on Set for having written such letters include James Marsden, Taran Killam, Boy Meets World stars Rider Strong and Will Friedle, Ron Melendez and the late Alan Thicke. (THR has reached out to those mentioned for comment.)

“That was probably the darkest part of my career,” Schneider said. “And here’s the kicker that I really don’t get. After [Peck] got out of prison and was a registered sex offender, he was hired on a Disney Channel show. I don’t understand that.”

THR has reached out to reps for Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel and Bell for comment. It’s understood that Peck voiced the role of a mirror on three episodes of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody for Disney Channel.

Sources also insist Peck performed the role entirely in a voiceover studio, well away from the series set, and had no interaction with cast and crew members, including minors. THR has also learned that, after learning of Peck’s conviction, Disney fired him immediately and replaced his voice and onscreen credits on the three episodes of the series he worked on.

In the post-Quiet on Set video, Schneider explained that he did not hire Peck for work on All That. When asked if “this was a Tollin/Robbins production?” Schneider responded yes, as he referred to the one-time production banner led by longtime producer-directors Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins.

Background sources at Paramount — where Robbins is currently president and CEO of Paramount Pictures after at one point overseeing Nickelodeon for then-parent company ViacomCBS — told THR that he was not in any way involved in hiring Peck to work at the kid’s TV network.

Schneider’s recollections of his years at Nickelodeon — where he created hit programs like The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly, Victorious and Sam & Cat – follow his critics alleging online and in Quiet on Set that he was inappropriate to young females who worked for him and that he wrote inappropriate scripts for uncomfortable child actors to perform.

In hindsight, Schneider agreed some jokes crossed a line and should be cut from episodes that continue to air or can still be streamed. “All those jokes … the show covered over the past two nights, every one of those jokes was written for a kid audience because kids thought they were funny and only funny,”  he argued. But that was then. “Let’s cut those jokes out of the show, just like I would have done 20 years ago or 25 years ago,” he says. “I want my shows to be popular. I want everyone to like [the shows], the more people who liked the shows, the happier I am. So if there’s anything that needs to be cut because it’s upsetting somebody, let’s cut it.”

Among other revelations, Schneider claimed to have helped Amanda Bynes, star of the hit series The Amanda Show who at age 16 or 17 years, he recounted, attempted to separate herself from her parents. At one point in the video, he recalled a late night call from Bynes.

“It was very late. Well, after midnight, or 1 or 2 in the morning, the phone rang. I answered it, and it was Amanda. She was in distress. She had had some conflict with her parents — I think her father — and she called. I was immediately concerned for her safety,” Schneider claimed in the video.

He added that he arranged for Bynes to be picked up due to his safety concerns. “I felt better. She ended up being taken to the police.”

During his run, Schneider helped launch the careers of Bynes, Kenan Thompson, Victoria Justice, Miranda Cosgrove, Jennette McCurdy and many more. While no sexual allegations involving child actors have been made against Schneider, he made several apologies in the video for young actors who said they felt uncomfortable or vulnerable on his TV sets.

“There are definitely things that I would do differently,” he insisted, including having licensed therapists on set to oversee child actors and the filming process. “The main thing that I would change is how I treat people and everyone. I definitely at times didn’t give people the best of me. I didn’t show enough patience. I could be cocky and definitely over-ambitious, and sometimes just straight up rude and obnoxious, and I’m sorry that I ever was.”

He also said, among other things, that he was wrong to ask anyone on set to give him massages: “It was wrong. It was wrong that I ever put anyone in that position. It was wrong to do. I’d never do it today. I’m embarrassed that I did it then. I apologize to anybody that I ever put in that situation.”

He also addressed the inappropriate jokes he told and the pranks that he pulled in the writers room. “Let me just say, no writer should ever feel uncomfortable in any writers room, ever. Period. The end. No excuses,” he said. Schneider insisted he should never have taken part, especially when he was in charge.

“I can tell you why it hurts really bad for me,” he continued when recalling early experiences in the entertainment business, “I was green. I was scared. I was excited. It meant the world to me that I was getting these opportunities. And I went in and I got lucky, because my first couple experiences were fantastic. And the fact that I didn’t pay it forward to every employee that walked through my door, it hurts my heart because I should have, and I wish I could go back and fix that.”

He also discussed what critics online and in the Quiet on the Set series point to as inappropriate “On Air Dare” sketches, which Schneider agreed in some cases “went too far.”

“When I was watching the show over the past two nights, I now know that there were kids who did have problems with the ‘On Air Dares,’ and it breaks my heart, and I’m so sorry, and I’m so sorry to any kid who ever had to do a dare or anything that they didn’t want to do or weren’t comfortable doing,” he said.

On the making of the reaction video, a spokesperson for Schneider said BooG!e reached out to the TV producer to see if he could ask him some questions about the series. “BooG!e wants to make clear though that he is not a journalist and wasn’t trying to be. He was offering to provide a platform for Dan to confront a lot of his previous behaviors,” the statement continued. “BooG!e thought it was something worth doing if Dan was into it, so people could hear from Dan.”

Quiet on Set is now streaming on Max.

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