Yesterday Nickelodeon announced that it would be cutting ties with Dan Schneider, creator of several of its most successful programs including The Amanda Show, Zoey 101, and iCarly. “Since several Schneider’s Bakery [the production company founded by Schneider] projects are wrapping up, both sides agreed that this is a natural time for Nickelodeon and Schneider’s Bakery to pursue other opportunities and projects,” the network said in a statement.
Typically, the inner workings of television networks are of interest only to folks in the industry. News of Schneider’s departure, however, immediately set Twitter and Reddit on fire. This is because for the past several years, the internet has harbored conspiracy-theory-level rumors of Schneider’s alleged abuse of his young stars, and this most recent development brought those speculations up in a new light.
It’s important to note that these rumors haven’t been mentioned in most of the stories about Schneider’s departure from Nickelodeon; one exception was Deadline, which noted that “along with all his success, for years Schneider had been under a cloud of suspicion over the treatment of some younger stars of his shows. Among the things that have raised eyebrows are his tweeted photos of the toes of his young female stars.”
Rumors are part and parcel of being in the public eye. If we were to believe all of them, that would mean Katy Perry is actually JonBenet Ramsey and Avril Lavigne was long ago replaced by a lookalike. But the persistence of the allegations concerning Schneider, and his subsequent dismissal from a powerful and lucrative position in the midst of the #MeToo movement, has made them all the more visible.
The allegations have been around since at least 2012, and first appeared on the anonymous entertainment industry blog Crazy Days and Nights. That year, one particularly incendiary and apparently now-deleted comment by user “Himmmm” (whom many have specualted is actually Robert Downey Jr.) is said to have appeared on the site, according to a 2013 post on the Game Spot forums page. The comment allegedly called out Schneider as a “monster” and the “WORST predator alive,” and noted that “A LOT of settlements get paid out of Viacoms accounts” (Viacom is Nickelodeon’s parent company). The comment went on to mention the unsubstantiated rumor that Schneider is the father of former Zoey 101 star Jamie Lynn Spears’s child, who was born in 2007.
In 2013, similar rumors about Schneider popped up on longtime internet forum “The Data Lounge,” where one user wrote, “Schneider is one of the biggest pedos in the biz, but as long as he can take a pretty young girl and turn her into a money making machine, he’ll always have a job.” On Reddit that same year, one user alleged that Schneider paid them $100 to tickle their feet while they worked as an extra on The Amanda Show. In 2014, Crazy Days and Nights noted in a blind item that Schneider has a “reputation for being very hands on with his actors and actresses.” It also stated that Miranda Cosgrove and Jennette McCurdy, two actors who found fame on Schneider’s shows, boycotted that year’s Teen Choice Awards at which the producer was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Last year, just before The New York Times and the New Yorker exposed Harvey Weinstein’s pattern of abuse, the rumors once again blew up on Reddit and other online forums. Shortly thereafter, a Twitter user named @deludedkiss published a lengthy thread featuring screenshots and clips allegedly illustrating Schneider’s supposed incorporation of his alleged foot fetish and sexualization of young people into his shows.
thread of how much of a pedophile creep with disgusting fetishes dan schneider is and what really goes on behind the scenes of his shows:— ً (@deludedkiss) September 16, 2017
These are only some of the bigger points in a long, ongoing, unsubstantiated, and partially deleted online discussion about someone who has played a part in the childhoods of millions of American children. These discussions were not fomented in the pages of a well-regarded magazine but rather in the most faceless parts of the internet, where people can hide behind usernames and avatars. It remains to be seen if the rumors will ever be confirmed or denied, but it feels strange not to acknowledge them at this moment.