'Quiet on Set' director hopes Amanda Bynes will share her Nickelodeon experience 'in her own words' one day

“Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” directors talk about making their series, which looks at allegations of toxic culture on the sets of Nickelodeon shows.

Actress Amanda Bynes, in white, accepts two awards.
Amanda Bynes, in 2003, soared to child stardom on Nickelodeon in the late 1990s and '00s. (Fred Prouser FSP/HB/Reuters)

Amanda Bynes’s public struggles were top of mind for Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV filmmakers.

The Investigation Discovery (ID) docuseries examines alleged toxicity on the sets of Dan Schneider’s hit Nickelodeon shows in the late 1990s and early ’00s, including Drake Bell’s allegation that he was sexually abused as a child by The Amanda Show dialogue coach Brian Peck.

The four-part series also looks at the professional relationship between Bynes and Schneider, who discovered the young actress and put her on All That when she was 10 before giving her a spin-off show at 13. Bynes shot to stardom but has struggled publicly with her mental health for over a decade.

Bynes does not participate in the docuseries and has not spoken publicly about the alleged misconduct that took place. Filmmakers conducted new interviews with cast and crew members and writers from across the productions covered in the docuseries to tell the story.

“We reached out to everyone and anyone that we could,” co-director Emma Schwartz tells Yahoo Entertainment, “and we're really grateful for the people who were participating.” However, while some were ready to share their story, others — like the Hairspray star — were not.

Had Bynes participated in the doc, there could have been concerns about the interview being exploitative. The former actress, 37, was in a conservatorship for nearly nine years until 2022. She has continued to struggle and was placed in a psychiatric hold in March 2023.

Amanda Bynes, with long blond hair, a nose ring and a heart tattoo on her left check, is studying to be a manicurist.
Bynes was in a conservatorship 2013 until 2022. Done with Hollywood, she recently announced plans to become a manicurist. (Instagram)

When that’s pointed out, co-director Mary Robertson replies, “Taking an ethical approach is of the utmost importance to us.”

While Robertson didn’t divulge more about attempts to secure Bynes, she did address how they moved the story forward without Bynes’s participation.

“You see a lot of footage of Amanda from when she was on The Amanda Show, and you see her talent on full display,” Robertson says. “We talk in the film about how much she meant to the generation of girls and women and boys who grew up watching her show.”

The doc also shows how “[Bynes] was the funny kid,” Robertson says. “She wasn't the dorky kid. She wasn't the athlete. She was the funny kid. She was a young girl out there showing that girls could be funny. So it was important to us to remind [viewers] of her talent and what she meant to so many people at the time.”

Amanda Bynes, in overalls and a striped tee, during Nickelodeon's 1998 Big Help in Los Angeles.
Bynes, here in 1998, was the "funny kid" on Nickelodeon's All That, which resulted in her own spin-off, The Amanda Show. (Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

The doc also “advances the reporting on what is known about what transpired between her and Dan,” Robertson says, saying “there’s a lot of new information about that story, and we included that. But, you know, we want Amanda to tell her story in her own words.”

A rep for Bynes did not respond to Yahoo Entertainment’s request for comment about the docuseries — or if she has watched it.

Quiet on Set talks about Schneider discovering Bynes at the Los Angeles Laugh Factory, hiring her and guiding her career. Virgil L. Fabian, a director on The Amanda Show, said “very few people made Dan laugh, and she did.”

Show editor Karyn Finley Thompson flagged questionable interactions between Bynes and Schneider, who was 20 years older and her boss, saying, “I definitely saw Amanda being very close physically with Dan. There were many times I saw Amanda sitting behind him hugging him, or giving him a neck massage.” There was also an odd on-air sketch with Bynes in a bathing suit in a hot tub next to a clothed Schneider. Schneider also created a character for Bynes called “Penelope Taynt,” an overt sexual slang that somehow made it through censors.

Director Dan Schneider, smiling while wearing a black short-sleeve button-front shirt, a red tee underneath and jeans.
Dan Schneider, pictured in 2015, helmed many successful Nickelodeon shows. (Lizzy Sullivan/WireImage)

Actors on All That talked about Schneider’s obvious preference for Bynes. In the doc, actress Katrina Johnson talked about feeling replaced when Bynes was brought in. Actor Leon Frierson talked about the kids attending school on set, but often Amanda “would just be missing. A lot of times we would hear she would be with Dan, pitching ideas and writing.”

Bynes’s parents, especially her hands-on stage dad, were close to Schneider. Until they weren’t.

When Bynes was a teen, she was dating an older guy, and — feeling caged in by her parents — she ran away from home. She ended up turning to Schneider for help, and the police were involved. Her parents were “really, really upset” with Schneider, said Business Insider’s Kate Taylor, whose Nickelodeon reporting guided the series.

Schneider was also involved with trying to help Bynes become emancipated from her parents, which Taylor described as “ethically fraught.” The plan failed in court, leaving a permanent fractured relationship between Bynes’s parents and Schneider.

Amanda Bynes (center) with parents Rick, at left, and Lynn Bynes.
Bynes and her parents, Rick and Lynn, in 2004. (Mark Sullivan/WireImage)

Schneider’s involvement in Bynes’s career went beyond Nickelodeon. He was behind Bynes going primetime in the WB’s What I Like About You, which ran from 2002 to 2006. However, he reportedly had problems with co-creator Wil Calhoun and was squeezed out. His main focus was then back on his Nick shows — Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, Victorious, Sam & Cat — with the doc getting into problematic behavior on those sets, including Bell’s sexual abuse allegations. Bynes jumped to movies including She's the Man (2006), Hairspray (2007) and Easy A (2010).

In July 2010, Bynes abruptly announced a Hollywood hiatus. Her troubles had already started to surface — she was replaced in the 2010 film Hall Pass. The following year she was put in a conservatorship and diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She said in a 2018 interview that she had long “abused Adderall” but had gotten sober.

Schneider — who left Nickelodeon in 2018 amid claims he acted "inappropriately" — has issued several denials to date about the toxicity on his sets. On Tuesday, an interview with him surfaced — conducted by BooG!E, who played T-Bo on iCarly — that was recorded after he watched the documentary.

In it, he was asked about assisting with Bynes's emancipation, calling it "a fairly common thing with successful young actors," and said he was one of several people on her team, along with her agent, manager, publicist and lawyer, who she asked to help.

"We supported her, she tried to get emancipated, and it ended up not working out," he said.

As for his help when Bynes ran away, Schneider said she called him at one or two in the morning "in distress" over conflict with her parents. He was "immediately concerned about her safety." He called someone who was nearby who could pick her up so she was safe. "She ended up being taken to the police."

He spent time addressing a lot of the claims within the documentary. He said he didn't hire Brian Peck, who pleaded no contest to sexually abusing Bell. He said he was "devastated" when Bell confided in him that he had been abused, calling it the "darkest part of my career." Schneider said he helped Bell's mom write the speech she delivered at Peck's sentencing.

He also said asking employees, including Bynes and many others, to give him massages was "wrong" and apologized to everyone he put in that position. He apologized for his sexist and inappropriate behavior in the writers room. He claimed that the resurfaced clips from the show that have been called inappropriate were written with a "kid audience" in mind. He also acknowledged that "some" of his on-air dares, having kids put live scorpions in their mouth, "pushed the envelope too far." He denied being banned from any of his sets.

Schneider expressed a lot of regret over his behavior, saying, “Watching over the past two nights was very difficult," he said at the start. "Me facing my past behaviors, some of which are embarrassing and that I regret. I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology."

He ended by saying: "When I watched the show, I could see the hurt in some people’s eyes and it made me feel awful and regretful and sorry. I wish I could go back, especially to those earlier years of my career, and bring the growth and the experience that I have now and just do a better job and never, ever feel like it was OK to be an asshole to anyone, ever."

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV is now streaming on Max.