Life & Culture

Creepy goings-on behind the scenes of children’s TV


Hot-tub footage: producer Dan Schneider and actress Amanda Bynes

Being such a small tribe means that while we kvell at the success of our co-religionists, we also feel shame at some of the bad things they do. So, it brings me no joy to tell you about a new Hollywood scandal that involves Jews, both an alleged perpetrator and a victim.

An investigative documentary series called Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV has delved deep into the culture of Nickelodeon in the 1990s and early 2000s when the king of the channel was Midas-like producer Dan Schneider, who had created a string of hits including iCarly, Drake & Josh, Victorious and The Amanda Show during his two decades at the channel.

The four-part series – which can be viewed here on Discovery+ – shines a light on a toxic culture of sexual and psychological abuse, misogyny and racism.

Schneider is accused of some seriously creepy behaviour towards the children under his care. He was also at the helm when dialogue coach Brian Peck groomed and sexually abused children in the TV shows. Peck was convicted in 2004 for child sex abuse and sentenced to 16 months in prison. A production assistant from the channel called Jason Handy, meanwhile, received a six-year sentence in 2004 for molesting two girls.

A third Nickelodeon employee, animator Ezel Channel, was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2009 for sexually abusing teenage boys at the studio.

Schneider has not been accused of sexual abuse, it must be said, but there are question marks over his disturbing behaviour, which was first unveiled by iCarly star Jennette McCurdy in her 2022 biography. She described how Schneider – who she did not name at the time – encouraged her to drink alcohol while underage, massaged her shoulders and insisted she wore a small bikini.

There has also been a lot of attention on his closeness with Amanda Bynes, the Jewish actress who became one of Nickelodeon’s biggest break-out stars. The documentary features footage of Schneider sharing a hot tub with her when she was 13.

After becoming a huge hit on the channel, she went on to star in a series of films but she quit acting after starring in The Easy A in 2010 and her life appeared to then unravel with a series of public breakdowns that saw her sectioned after starting a fire.

She was arrested for possession of marijuana, was charged with a hit-and-run offence and had a heart-shaped tattoo on her face. Eventually her mother Lynn put her under temporary conservatorship – when that ended in 2022, she was sectioned again being found walking the streets of Los Angelese naked.

Although she now insists her life is back on track and training to be a manicurist, the documentary series, which she refused to take part in, has put her back into the spotlight, sparking new fears for her health.

Schneider, who is accused of making the kids tell sexualised jokes, was eventually fired in 2018 after some of the allegations about behaviour on the sets came to light. He has done a YouTube video in which he apologises.

In the video Schneider said: “Watching [Quiet on Set] was very difficult, facing my past behaviours, some of which were embarrassing and I regret, and I definitely owe some people some pretty strong apologies.” His spokesman added: “Dan is apologising for his behaviour. He never ever should have asked for massages. Period. He crossed the line in the writers’ room with the jokes that he told and the pranks that he pulled.” It will be interesting to see if this is the end of the matter.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive