Jennette McCurdy Says She Refused $300,000 in Hush Money from Nickelodeon

Former iCarly star Jennette McCurdy has opened up about her experience starring in two Nickelodeon shows and the treatment she endured from their creator behind the scenes. A former child star who co-starred with Miranda Cosgrove on iCarly before leading the spinoff series Sam & Cat alongside Ariana Grande, McCurdy has since stepped back from acting, refusing to reprise her role from those shows in the new iCarly reboot on Paramount+.

In her new memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, McCurdy sheds some new light on her time at Nickelodeon and further explains why she wants to leave that chapter of her life behind her. A lengthy excerpt from the book was published by Vanity Fair with McCurdy alleging misconduct from someone she chooses not to identify by name, referring to the man as “The Creator.” This would be the person who created both iCarly and Sam & Cat and has since parted ways with Nickelodeon after he was publicly leveled with allegations of misconduct.

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In the Vanity Fair story, McCurdy details the moment when she first tried alcohol after she was allegedly coerced by The Creator. McCurdy says that she was pressured to take a sip as the “Victorious kids get drunk together all the time,” suggesting that the iCarly kids needed a “little edge.” The Nickelodeon star acquiesced by taking a drink, she says.

“The Creator laughs. I’ve done well. I’ve pleased him. Mission accomplished. It’s the same mission I have every time I get dinner with him, which has gotten more and more frequent lately as my new contract for the spin-off he promised me is being worked out. The Creator is doing the thing that I’ve heard from my co-stars he does with every new star of a show that he’s making—he takes you under his wing. You’re his favorite. For now. I like being his favorite for now. I feel like I’m doing something right.”

McCurdy also details an occasion when The Creator had allegedly placed his hand on her knee, offering her his jacket when he noticed it gave her goosebumps. He then proceeded to allegedly give McCurdy a massage which made her uncomfortable.

“He takes his coat off and drapes it around me. He pats my shoulders and then the pat turns into a massage… My shoulders do have a lot of knots in them, but I don’t want The Creator to be the one rubbing them out. I want to say something, to tell him to stop, but I’m so scared of offending him.”

Her dealings with The Creator would have McCurdy trying to finish filming on Sam & Cat as quickly as she could just so she could get away from the Nickelodeon set. McCurdy says she was literally “counting down the days until the show is over,” and was feeling so miserable she had actually fantasized about having a heart attack.

“I’ve been going through the motions at work for weeks. I glance at my lines in the mornings, making no effort to memorize them for rehearsals… Twenty days left after today. Just four more episodes. And even still, I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to push through until then… I’m starting to expect I’ll have a bulimia-induced heart attack. I’m mortified to admit it, but a part of me actually wishes I would. Then I wouldn’t have to be here anymore. My thoughts have gotten dark and dramatic like this in recent weeks. And while at first I was aware of the shift, and concerned, it no longer feels like a shift. It just feels like me.”

Jennette McCurdy Was Thrilled When Sam & Cat Was Canceled

Nickelodeon

During this time, reports had begun to surface about the way The Creator had treated talent on and off set. This satisfied McCurdy that these allegations were coming to light as it brought about actual changes at Nickelodeon.

“The Creator has gotten in trouble from the network for accusations of his emotional abuse. I feel like it’s been a long time coming, and should have happened a lot sooner. I appreciate the amount of trouble he’s gotten in. It wasn’t just a slap on the wrist sort of thing. It’s to the point where he’s no longer allowed to be on set with any actors, which makes communication in between takes complicated. The Creator sits in a small cave-like room off to the side of the soundstage, surrounded by piles of cold cuts, his favorite snack, and Kids’ Choice Awards, his most cherished life accomplishment. He watches our takes on four separate monitors, one for each camera, that are set up in his lair.”

Fortunately for McCurdy, Sam & Cat was not meant to have the same levels of success as iCarly. It was canceled after one season, and at the time, that was the best news the young actress could have hoped for. She learned the news on a phone call with multiple managers and attorneys and was happy until she heard that the network was also offering a $300,000 check. McCurdy says this payment would have been in exchange for her forever staying silent about The Creator and her experience behind the scenes dealing with him on both iCarly and Sam & Cat. It’s a lot of money, but McCurdy outright refused, she says.

“What the f***? Nickelodeon is offering me three hundred thousand dollars in hush money to not talk publicly about my experience on the show? My personal experience of The Creator’s abuse? This is a network with shows made for children. Shouldn’t they have some sort of moral compass? Shouldn’t they at least try to report to some sort of ethical standard? I lean back against the headboard of my bed and cross my legs out in front of me. I extend my arms behind my head and rest them there in a gesture of pride. Who else would have the moral strength? I just turned down three hundred thousand dollars.”

Even so, McCurdy jokes that maybe she should have just taken the check.

“Wait… I just turned down three hundred thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money. I’ve made a decent amount on this Sam & Cat spin-off, but definitely not enough that three hundred thousand dollars doesn’t make a difference. Sh*t. Maybe I should’ve taken it.”

You can read the full excerpt at Vanity Fair, and you can purchase McCurdy’s memoir, I’m Glad My Mom Died, when it is released on Aug. 9.