Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

Q: Is that pic real?

A: Yes. Yes, it is. It's from the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards from some year I think. Yes she expected kids to see her in that.

Q: Oh, how, uh, interesting.

A: Technically that's not a question.

Q: Shouldn't you put a NSFW warning with that?

A: She wore that to a televised kids' awards show so, meh. Also I'm squeezing the hell out of that header as it is. But eh, fine, you win.

Q: So who is this girl and why should I care?

A: She's Jennette McCurdy who is a major star for the Nickelodeon network, and I don't know, you tell me. Gawker seems to think you should care, though. Or more specifically that you should care about how she doesn't care/is disgusted by you fapping to her, I'm really not clear on that.

Q: What do you mean no clear on that? Also eww.

A: She has an interesting sense of humor so I'm not sure if she's sincere or if she's just trolling. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? She's trolling. Also, that second part isn't a question.

Q: Ok, so she's a Nickelodeon star. So is she just reaching that point in her child star career where she goes out of control like Amanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohan, or what? And what do you mean by her "interesting" sense of humor?

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

A: She has been a child star since she was still in the single-digits, age-wise, but she's best known for playing the character Sam Puckett from the hit show iCarly which is quite literally the highest rated show in that network's history (6 million and up was typical at its height). No, really. Spongebob Squarepants cant' touch it. iCarly was about a girl named Carly (duh) Shay played by Miranda Cosgrove in her big star-making role. Towards the end of the show's run, Cosgrove was rumored pulling down over $200,000 per episode - to put that into perspective, Sofia Vergara who gets second billing on Modern Family doesn't make half that. Hell, top-biller Ed O'Niell barely makes half that, after extensive contract negotiations. "Minute-for-minute" of episode time considered, Cosgrove was basically the highest-paid actress in all of Hollywood. Anyway, the exact premise of the show was that she and her friend Sam wanted to enter into a talent show her school was hosting, but her teacher Mrs. Briggs (or Bragg, or something to that effect, I don't remember, played by Mindy Sterling who you remember as "that chick who hung out with Dr. Evil all the time in Austin Powers" and also starred in ANT Farm on Disney Channel, which was a mediocre show, if you define "mediocre" as "horrid and I'd rather watch Jersey Shore instead," but more on that later) shot their entry down, and Carly and Sam felt bad about some of the other acts being rejected so they took their acts to the web (the show premiered just when YouTube was getting big) where they got a lot of hits and decided to make it into a regular web show called, well, iCarly.

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

iCarly rarely focused on the web show aspect; really, most of the show was about zany and random Wacky Hijinks(TM) type of adventures and the web show mostly served as entertaining bookends or filler material in the middle (though perhaps "entertaining" should be in quotes because much of it was damn near incomprehensible - perhaps the most notable skit was the "confused girl who confused a mustache for a squirrel" where Sam would dress as a cowboy-ish character with a mustache and Carly, dressed as a farm girl - and when I say "farm girl", if a freeze frame from whatever porno you were seeing in your head pops up, you might as well hold on to that because you're really not that far off, but more on that later - would ask the cowboy-ish character if that mustache was a squirrel. And that'd be it. Seriously. This is what Nickelodeon thinks is comedy. This is what your kids think is comedy.) More than occasionally the web show would pop up as a plot device - one of their various nemeses (yes they had several for some reason), a boy named Nevell, would try to sabotage the iCarly webshow or, once, tried to steal the iCarly web domain. There was also a show where they went to Japan to accept a web show award, and other stuff like that. Plot device, not really a focus.

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

Q: Wow, you really weren't kidding about Carly's farm girl character.

A: That's not really a question, but I will say that screenshot is from the episode where the web domain gets stolen.

Q: So when they went to Japan, did they do any Japanese-y stuff? And why would they go all the way to Japan to accept a web award? Did they have a lot of Japanese fans?

A: "Japanese-y" sounds kind of racist, BTW. But it's not like Nickelodeon themselves would really care as the most "Japanese-y" parts were about 10 minutes worth of playing on stereotypes. It was an extended 90 minute episode - yes, 90 minutes - where the first third was focused on getting to Japan (they take a discount ticket where they're kicked, mid-air, out of a cargo plane) and then most of the rest of the show is being tricked by two other local awards contestants where they're left in the middle of nowhere.

Q: So...was there any particular plot reason why this was in Japan?

A: Not that I can figure. It was an excuse to put up an exotic locale for a 90 minute episode.

Q: So...90 minute episode? Really?

A: Yeah. There was a lot of "gimmicking" going on at Nickelodeon at the time and it was very much symptomatic of a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes that's very relevant to Jennette McCurdy posting lingerie selfies of herself online.

Q: I know you live in Colorado so...are you high?

A: No, there actually is a linear path to all of this. To really appreciate this mess requires really knowing the history of the Dan Schneider era of Nickelodeon and all the fucked-up mess that was rumored going on behind the scenes, both in the sense of the typical classic Hollywood sense, and just the bizarre directions that guy took the network in terms of its overall means and uniform approach to storytelling.

A: Dan Schneider?

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

A: Dan Schneider was originally a computer geek in the truest sense, apparently employed fresh out of high school as an IT repair expert back in the very late 80s when that sort of career started becoming important to the average consumer. It was thus how he was "discovered" to essentially play that kind of character in a multi-cam comedy show called Head of the Class which was as you probably inferred about a bunch of high school students. Rather than go back to consumer electronics, Dan took advantage of opportunities to stay in showbiz, but behind the camera (and I certainly can't blame him). The high school milieu of Head of the Class obviously struck a chord with him as he primarily attached himself to Nickelodeon, creating and producing similar-themed TV shows. His first was actually a sketch comedy called All That which was followed up by his first multi-cam sitcom big hits, Kennan and Kel and Drake & Josh both of which were more or less about the daily wacky "slice-of-life" adventures of their high school-aged protagonists. Also included was the sketch comedy The Amanda Show which was where we got Amanda Bynes from.

Q: Wait...I remember Kennan and Kel and Drake & Josh and The Amanda Show! Those shows were great! So he created those?

A: Yup! And it didn't end there either - after the "shelf life" of Kennan and Kel and Drake & Josh expired, he kept cranking out more hits. Concurrent with Drake & Josh was the single-cam series Zoey 101, and iCarly essentially replaced Drake & Josh. Miranda Cosgrove in fact co-starred in the former, in much the same way the stars of that show (the eponymous Josh Peck and Drake Bell) were Amanda Show alumni. Schneider later hit success yet again with VicTORious (yes with those annoying ALL CAPS semi-randomly iN tHe miDDle oF tHe wOrD) starring Victoria Justice as Tori Vega (hence the justification for the raNDOm ALL CAPS) who also co-starred in Zoey 101.

Q: Wait...wasn't Zoey 101 that show that was canceled because Britney Spears' sister got pregnant?

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

A: That's the one! Though there's a lot of "yes and no" involved to accurately answer the full context of your question.

For clarification, Zoey 101 starred Jaime Lynn Spears, who is the younger sister of the far-more famous (and far more cray-cray) Britney Spears. It centered around the title character who lived in what used to be an all-girls' boarding school but then started accepting male students, and the Wacky Hijinks (TM) that ensued. As you can probably figure out, the very premise opens itself up to controversy of sexual nature, and Jaime Lynn getting pregnant in real life wasn't what the show needed. I've never seen the show myself, but from what I can tell the show rarely tackled sexual issues head-on (it was on Nickelodeon after all) and mostly promoted "girl power" issues and "glass-ceiling" morals concerning the boy-girl gender dynamic. One of the characters (I believe the one played by Erin Sanders, or maybe it was the one played by Victoria Justice, I don't remember) was supposed to be "boy crazy" but that's kid network code for "wants to snog a bunch of boys all the time". Anyway, to answer your question, no, Zoey 101 wasn't canceled because of the pregnancy - the pregnancy occurred after the show had already wrapped. Nickelodeon (and its primary competition, Disney Channel) has some weird rule about shows only being approved for ~60 episodes which equals three seasons, though that seems to be becoming less a hard and fast rule or even guideline depending on how successful a show is. Supposedly the rationale being that as the kids age out of the demographic and lose interest in the show it's too hard to attract new fans in the middle of the run, so why bother?

Q: So what else about the pregnancy and what does this have to do with Dan Schneider? Also, snogging? Really?

A: The rumor was at the time (and still persists) that it was Dan Schneider himself who got Jaime Lynn pregnant, though we know who the father was/is and it's not him. Still, it's not helping Schneider's reputation. And I've been reading a lot of British lit lately, so sue me.

Q: ...wait. WHAT?!

A: ...what's weird about Brit lit?

Q: No I mean about the "reputation" thing.

A: To put it in no uncertain terms, Dan Schneider is rumored to be a pedophile. Given that the vast bulk of his career concerns pre-teen and teen girls in the entertainment industry, this is arguably inevitable. But he doesn't do himself any favors with some of the shit he actually puts in his show.

Q: ...l-like what shit?

A: ...this is probably going to elicit a lot of requests for more NSFW tags, but here we go:

And before you ask about those NSFW tags, please keep in mind, this was specifically produced for consumption by teens and pre-teens. Parents were expected to deliberately plop their kids in front of this.

In all fairness I guess kids might see this as a funny "gunk" gag but yeah let's stop kidding ourselves Dan Schneider is rumored to have a serious foot fetish.

Q: Ewwwww. So how does this guy continue to work for the network?

A: Long story short, there's no proof that he's a pedophile at all. Nobody's come out, and there's completely zero credible evidence any way pointing at professional misconduct. More of his former associates (including former child star actors) have quite literally nothing but good things to say about him. But that's not to say there isn't a lot of weirdness going on, which brings us back to the issue of Jennette McCurdy and Sam & Cat.

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

Nickelodeon's annual Kids' Choice Awards, whether you regard them as a legitimate and fairly-voted presentation on entertainment achievements or a rigged self-congratulatory network circle-jerk, ultimately and solely exists to promote Nick's own talent. If not necessarily through awards received, then in giving them additional high-profile exposure. Which makes it only even more bizarre that Jennette was a complete no-show at the 2014 KCAs despite being nominated for best actress and her new show, Sam & Cat, being nominated for best show (which it indeed did end up winning even though Jessie so totally should've won instead) Dan Schneider won a lifetime achievement award and was greeted by nearly every star and co-star of all his Nick shows (as seen above) with three notable exceptions - the aforementioned Jennette McCurdy, Kenan Thompson (who was hosting SNL that night and "tele-conferenced" his best wishes) and Miranda Cosgrove. Both McCurdy's and Cosgrove's absence remains unexplained (at least officially) - it's hard to tell which case is more bizarre, McCurdy's absence despite her nominations or Cosgrove's despite the awards show taking place on a non-busy weekend near the UCLA campus where she attends classes (apparently event parking even included a UCLA parking garage). During the events Jennette posted a Tweet-Longer where she made vague references to backstabbing friends and unfriended her Sam & Cat co-star Ariana Grande. This fueled both rumors that Jennette and Ariana were feuding behind-the-scenes and/or that both Miranda and Jennette were protesting Nick or Schneider in some way, perhaps confirming the rumors regarding Schneider's impropriety.

Q: So is that what this is really about? Was Sam & Cat canceled because of feuding co-stars and not because of lingerie selfies?

A: ...yes and no. Nickelodeon refuses to give an official reason (and it won't be the first time either, as they have yet to announce why they killed Victorious even though an additional season was clearly anticipated by the production crew, and they probably never will). The selfies and the feuding might provide convenient and rational excuses for the gossiping public, but in my opinion I firmly believe that the show itself simply tanked.

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

Sam & Cat is actually a spin-off of not one but two shows, Victorious and iCarly (hence Jennette reprising her Sam Puckett character, with Victorious star Ariana Grande reprising her character Cat Valentine). With not one but two built-in fanbases, it was highly anticipated as being an automatic ratings hit at a time when the high three and low four million range would've been considered disappointing.

Then something weird happened practically overnight. When iCarly bowed out in November 2012, ratings started dipping across the board. Not just at Nickelodeon, but at cross-town rival Disney Channel as well. The highs of 5 and even 6 million an episode vanished, and the "lows" in the high 3s and low 4s was where things nearly completely topped off. Nickelodeon's decision to abruptly cancel Victorious seemed justified as that show dive bombed right into the low 3 and even 2 million range heading into its finale. Other Nickelodeon shows to premiere or airing during that time frame, including the Lucas Cruikshank (aka "Fred" - yes, that Fred) vehicle Marvin, Marvin, the Jerry Trainor (who co-starred with Miranda Cosgrove on Drake & Josh and with her and Jennette on iCarly) vehicle Wendell and Vinnie and the still strongly-rated How to Rock (adapted from a mildly popular young adult novel) were all canceled. Sam & Cat premiered strongly, but then immediately settled into the mid-3 million range which was more or less the average at Disney Channel. Nickelodeon's other live-action newbie multi-cam kidcoms The Haunted Hathaways and The Thundermans frequently dipped into the low 3 and even into the 2 million range and recieved renewal noticed if for no other reason than doing otherwise would've wiped Nick's non-animated slate completely clean. When Disney Channel abruptly canceled Shake it Up, literally their highest-rated show in history (even outpacing That One Show People Still Think is On TV Even Though Miley Air-Humping Robin Thicke Should've Been Their First Clue, aka Hannah Montana) in November 2013 (another unexplained cancellation despite the highest ratings on the network, though most likely done for cost-cutting reasons), a year after iCarly's end, things really started to freefall. Perennial favorites like Jessie which routinely went into the high 3 and low 4 million range now struggled to routinely keep up in the low 3 million and 2 million in viewers was now the new norm. Along with Nick's Haunted Hathaways and Thundermans, Disney Channel's newbies Liv & Maddie and I Didn't Do It (no really there is a TV show on basic cable called I Didn't Do It, brought to you by the same network that gives you Dog With a Blog) have often failed to even reach 2 million flat, prompting rumors of mass-cancellations and network blow-ups (though all four freshman series have been renewed for second seasons). Given the current state of the apparent "KidCom Apocalypse" and how Sam & Cat simply underperformed from what people were expecting, it's no surprise that even relatively minor behind-the-scenes troubles gave a convenient excuse to pull the plug and cut their losses.

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

There's also the consideration of Ariana Grande's music career blowing up (that's the cover of her latest album Problem, BTW). Her music commitments have interfered with production of the show so it might've been yet another excuse for the network to cut its losses and view her music as a superior revenue stream.

Q: Ok, fair enough, but back to Jennette McCurdy: so what's going on with her, exactly?

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

A: I really honestly don't know. Her mom died from losing a very, very long battle with cancer not too long ago and I think it's a safe bet to say she's been devastated from it. She briefly dated NBA pro Andre Drummond, and has been rather unfair in her assessment and post-relationship treatment of him in my opinion (given various statements she's made public about the relationship). It's possible that she feels Ariana has interfered with her career on the show, or perhaps involvement with Dan Schneider including illegal and unethical conduct or abuse on his part. Really, the only word we have is hers, at least for now.

Q: You know way too much about girlie teen kids' shows, you know that?

A:

Graveyard Shift Randomness Q&A: That Nickelodeon Actress Gawker suddenly cares about now [NSFW?]

Yes. Yes, I do.