This weekend, he finally has his chance, with the premiere of ‘iParty With Victorious’ Saturday, June 11, at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central on Nickelodeon. Schneider talked with Xfinity.com about the crossover, his actors’ reaction to the special episode and the return of his most famous past cast member.
What was the inspiration for ‘iParty With Victorious’?’
I’ve been doing shows at Nickelodeon for 18 years, and one of my big hits was ‘Drake and Josh.’ I used to think of crossing that over with ‘iCarly,’ but it ended. Then another show of mine, ‘Zoey 101,’ ended and I started on ‘Victorious.’ Since ‘iCarly’ is the number one live action show on the network, and ‘Victorious’ is number two, and the two casts are friends, I thought the audience would get a kick out of it.
How did the casts react when you told them they’d be working together?
They were thrilled. It’s like getting to hang out with your friends in the high school across town, but not the school that’s your rival. This really shook things up for them. It was an infusion of adrenaline into both casts. For us older people, it was like being counselors at a summer camp, watching over all of them. Sometimes it was hard to get them to stop socializing and focus on their scenes, but I loved it.
The end of the crossover brings both casts together to sing their theme songs. How did that come about?
That mash-up was an afterthought. I’m friends with a guy named Dr. Luke, who is the number one pop music songwriter/producer in the world right now. He’s written hits for people like Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson, and I heard a mash-up of two of his songs, “California Girls’ and “Tik Tok.” I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever heard, so I asked my music supervisor to do a mash-up of the ‘iCarly’ and ‘Victorious’ themes. What he came back with almost got me choked up. They’re good songs together but there’s something magical about them together. So now it’s like the curtain call in the episode. You can tell it’s not just a performance for the casts. All 12 kids have a blast. It’s their signature moment.
For the uninitiated, where did the idea of ‘iCarly’ come from?
I’d worked with Miranda Cosgrove (who plays Carly) on ‘Drake and Josh,’ and wanted to keep working with her. The original idea was that she’d play an ordinary girl who by happenstance becomes the unlikely co-star in her favorite TV show. But as I thought about it, the shows I make are about kid empowerment, kids taking charge of their own destiny. So why should she star in a TV show created and run by adults. It’d be cooler if she created her own show. And I’m very active online, and was seeing how many kids were making their own stuff and putting it online. So I thought, ‘What if (the characters) did their own show and it becomes a hit? That would be very empowering.’”
What about ‘Victorious’?
I’d added Victoria Justice (who plays Victoria) as a roommate to ‘Zoey 101’ and as soon as she shot her first scene, I said, “She’s got to be in my next show.” She had It in every way. There’s lots of pretty girls out there, but most don’t want to be silly. She did. She’s like a young Goldie Hawn. So when ‘Zoey’ ended, I talked with the network about doing something showcasing her as a triple threat since she can sing, dance and act. And I’d seen shows about performing arts schools, but not done as a comedy. I thought it could be cool, like ‘Fame’ Meets ‘Friends.’ We could be really creative and interesting, very eclectic and artsy, with different kinds of kids hanging out together.
Both shows have kids in them, but they don’t seem like kid shows. There’s enough humor for grown-ups too. Was that always the goal?
I love hearing from people that I’ve given them something they can watch with their kids. That’s the Holy Grail for me. I loved family television growing up, whether it was ‘Growing Pains’ or ‘The Brady Bunch’ or ‘Family Ties’ or ‘Cheers.’ They all had a warm feeling. You could sit down with your parents and laugh, and it’s sad that type of TV has gone away. My job is to entertain kids first, but make shows that will also get an adult to laugh for or five times in the half hour. We don’t come to work thinking we have to crank out kids’ shows. We come her to do the best comedy show on TV.
And on ‘iParty With Victorious,’ you’ve got a guest appearance by someone who worked with you as a kid but is now an adult and a star in his own right – Keenan Thompson.
In all the shows I’ve done, I’ve worked with probably 50 or 60 kid actors and Keenan is one of the nicest I’ve met. From the time he was 13, I just loved that kid and not just because he is a comic genius. There’s a sweetness and a classiness about him. We started out on ‘All That’ and then ‘Keenan and Kell.’ He grew up and moved on to bigger things, like ‘Saturday Night Live.’ We stayed in touch but I never asked him to come back, waiting for the right moment. Then, as part of the plot for the crossover episode, everyone ends up at a celebrity’s house in L.A. I called Keenan and started to pitch the idea to him and he stopped me in the middle and said, “Dan! Stop! Just tell me when and where and I’m there.” It almost made me cry. He didn’t need to hear the idea. He just said he wanted to come back and hang out with his old family.