Nickelodeon showrunner accused of racism, sexism, and writing sexually inappropriate jokes on kids’ show

Showrunner Dan Schneider has been accused of creating a “toxic” work environment on popular Nickelodeon kids’ shows.

Rolling Stone published a new investigation yesterday (March 16) documenting the allegations of racism, sexism, and sexually inappropriate behaviour across several shows including All ThatThe Amanda Show and Zoey 101.

The report coincides with the launch of four-part docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, which premiered March 17 and 18. Schneider’s representatives have responded to certain claims both on the show and in Rolling Stone‘s report.

Several cast members alleged that several scenes written in Schneider-affiliated kid’s shows were sexually inappropriate. The docuseries alleged All That‘s Leon Frierson played a character called “Captain Big Nose,” who had shoulder pads in the shape of phalluses. Schneider was also accused of developing a character called Penelope Taynt on The Amanda Show. 

There were also alleged to have been other sexually suggestive scenes, some featuring now popstar Ariana Grande, who appeared on Victorious as Cat Valentine. A scene featuring Grande showed her attempting to “juice a potato with both hands”; another involved her yelling “I’m thirsty” whilst lying upside down, pouring water down her neck.

Dan Schneider (Photo by Eric Vitale/Getty Images)
Dan Schneider (Photo by Eric Vitale/Getty Images)

Zoey 101‘s Alexa Nikolas also told the docuseries there was an episode of the show where goo was splattered onto protagonist Jamie Lynn Spears’ face, claiming: “We heard the boys saying it’s a cumshot.”

A spokesperson for Schneider has responded to Rolling Stone, saying: “Everything that happened on the shows Dan ran was carefully scrutinized by dozens of involved adults, and approved by the network.

“If there was an actual problem with the scenes that some people, now years later, are ‘sexualizing’, they would be taken down, but they are not, they are aired constantly all over the world today still, enjoyed by both kids and parents.”

Schneider’s shows have also been accused of racially-charged scenes; in the docuseries, Bryan Hearne (All That) and his mother reported that a scene where Hearne plays a girl scout selling cookies was written “like he was selling drugs”. In another sketch, where Hearne wears a skin-tone bodysuit, someone apparently joked that his suit should’ve been “charcoal” colored.

Giovonnie Samuels (All That) also said she was “unprepared for the challenges of playing the “token” Black kid”, and had to specifically request a Black hairstylist despite being labeled as “difficult”.

Schneider did not respond to these two allegations.

Some of his former colleagues also accused him of misogyny and sexism in the work place, allegedly asking former The Amanda Show writers Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen to split a single writer’s salary. Men, however, were apparently paid their full wages. Kilgen and Stratton went on to claim that Schneider asked them frequently for massages.

Schneider’s spokesperson said he “deeply regrets” asking for neck massages, adding that although they happened in public settings, they were “highly inappropriate and would never happen again.”

The spokesperson also said: “Unfortunately, writers’ rooms were often off-color places, especially more than 20 years ago. Dan is extremely sorry if his behavior contributed to that environment and he has grown a lot since then. That behavior is clearly wrong and not for the workplace, and certainly he would never act that way again.”

Previously, Drake and Josh star Drake Bell said he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of dialogue coach Brian Peck in the same documentary.

Nickelodeon has since responded, saying they were “dismayed and saddened to learn of the trauma he has endured, and we commend and support the strength required to come forward.”

For help, advice or more information regarding sexual harassment, assault and rape in the UK, visit the Rape Crisis charity website. In the US, visit RAINN.

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