Nickelodeon signs deal with Schneider

Cabler snaps up 'iCarly' creator

Nickelodeon has inked a three-year, eight-figure production pact with “iCarly’s” BFF, series creator and exec producer Dan Schneider.

The kidvid cabler rarely strikes such megabucks exclusive deals with individual producers. But Schneider has become the cabler’s most reliable hitmaker during the past decade, and “iCarly” has exploded for the net during the past year in viewership and pop-culture buzz.

Schneider already had spent the past few years working almost exclusively in TV for Nick, fielding such tween hits as “Drake and Josh” and “Zoey 101.” His latest series, “Victorious,” starring Victoria Justice as a student at an elite arts-oriented high school, bows March 27 after the Kids Choice Awards telecast, which is the strongest launchpad Nick has to offer.

“He knows what our audience is looking for and he consistently delivers, and he has such an eye for talent,” said Margie Cohn, Nickelodeon’s exec veep of development and original programming. “We wanted to make sure he was happy.”

Schneider, who is based out of the Nick on Sunset production facility in Hollywood, has worked in features and on network primetime series in the past. But the Nick niche suits his taste for the kind of family-friendly sitcoms that just don’t exist anymore on the Big Four networks.

“I don’t ever feel that I just do kids’ shows,” Schneider told Daily Variety. “I look at my shows as family entertainment.”

“iCarly” consistently ranks as Nick’s most-watched program, averaging 5 million-plus viewers for its recent original airings.

A big part of Schneider’s success has been his track record at grooming young stars through a kind of farm system on his shows. “iCarly” star Miranda Cosgrove had a supporting role on “Drake and Josh,” which ran from 2004-07. “Victorious” star Justice had a role on “Zoey 101,” which ran for three years ending in 2008. After working with Justice for a few episodes, “I knew that I was going to create a series for her one day,” Schneider said.

Schneider got his start with Nick in the mid-1990s on the sketch show “All That” and “Kenan and Kel.” He shepherded the Amanda Bynes starrer “The Amanda Show” for Nick and then worked with Bynes on the sitcom “What I Like About You,” which ran on the WB Network from 2002-06.

Schneider is repped by WME.

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