Advertisement

'Quiet on Set': What Josh Peck, Drake Bell and other Nickelodeon child stars are saying after watching the doc

Josh Peck, left, and Drake Bell
Josh Peck, left, and Drake Bell in 2014. (Frazer Harrison/KCA2014/Getty Images)

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, the explosive four-part Investigation Discovery docuseries about alleged toxicity behind the scenes on Dan Schneider’s Nickelodeon shows, aired this week, and aftershocks have followed.

Cast members from those shows — including All That, The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh and Zoey 101 — participated in the project along with directors, writers and parents of child stars of that era. In it, Drake Bell revealed for the first time that he was the unidentified minor behind Nickelodeon dialogue coach Brian Peck’s sexual abuse conviction. The relationship between Amanda Bynes, who has struggled as an adult, and Schneider was examined.

Schneider addressed the allegations this week in what has been criticized as a softball interview, given that it was conducted by Bobbie K. Bowman, an actor Schneider hired to play T-Bo on iCarly.

Since the doc aired, many of the participants — including Bell, Alexa Nikolas, Leon Frierson and Katrina Johnson — have shared their reactions. Others who didn’t appear in the doc — like Bell’s Drake & Josh co-star Josh Peck (who’s not related to Bell abuser Brian Peck) — have also spoken out. Here’s what they’re saying:

Drake Bell: Bell, who talks in the series about being sexually assaulted at age 15 with the abuse continuing, told Business Insider, which partnered with Investigation Discovery for the doc, that his long-held secret being public has been "a mental tornado." He credited the doc for giving him a chance to set aside the "black ball of sludge" that had been building in him for over two decades. "If I'm going to tell my story, this is how it was supposed to be told." It’s noted in the doc that Schneider wasn’t aware of Bell being assaulted until Brian Peck was arrested, and Schneider showed support to Bell and his family during the trial (versus the famous Peck supporters).

Josh Peck: There were calls for Bell’s Drake & Josh co-star Peck — who was not in the doc — to speak out amid Bell’s assault and abuse revelations. Fans of the show know they’re no longer friends. Bell told his followers to give Peck a break, saying Peck reached out to him privately. Peck later shared a message on Instagram giving “my support for the survivors who were brave enough to share their stories.”

Alexa Nikolas: Nikolas — who exposes sexual abuse in the entertainment business through her Eat Predators collective — appeared in the doc to discuss the toxicity on Zoey 101. She left the show after its second season because it negatively affected her mental health. Since the doc was released, she said on CNN it’s helped validate her experience. “As a survivor, I feel like you always think you’re the only one and because of that, you end up holding a lot of what happened to you in,” she said. “So to experience and witness so many others have their own similar experiences was not only horrible to watch and sad, but it was so extremely validating.” She has also since ripped Schneider’s apology in a YouTube video.

Alexa Nikola
Alexa Nikolas appearing in Quiet on Set. (Investigation Discovery)

Katrina Johnson: The All That actress appeared in the doc and talked about Schneider being her mentor before being replaced when the younger Bynes was brought in. She also talked about how being told to lose weight as she entered puberty, saying she was called “fat.” On NewsNation’s Dan Abrams Live this week, Johnson said, for her, it was the opposite of a young girl being sexualized. “They wanted me to stay young and little and cute and not mature,” she said. She said her chest was wrapped in an Ace bandage so viewers couldn’t see her developing.

Katrina Johnson
Katrina Johnson. (Investigation Discovery)

Leon Frierson: The All That actor talked in the doc about being uncomfortable having to wear extremely tight costumes, exposing his young, changing body. Frierson told NewsNation’s legal contributor Jesse Weber on Dan Abrams Live this week that the conversation around the doc has been “extremely polarizing.” As stars of that era, “we brought so much light to your childhood ... and while we still want to be able to celebrate what we did as young actors, it is important that we also shed light [on] some of the horrific moments that took place — not only just for myself, but for those that were truly physically hurt, mentally hurt.”

Bryan Hearne: The All That actor said Schneider favored white kids on the cast. He talked in the doc about how in one sketch he had to wear a skin-toned bodysuit and a conversation was had about how it had to be “charcoal” colored. His mom also appeared in the docuseries, recalling him playing a child drug dealer-type character. Hearne also discussed being in an on-air dare that traumatized him, as he was covered in peanut butter and dogs licked his body. Since the doc aired, he shared a social media message to other former child stars, saying if they are affected watching it, “I feel you. I hear you. ... There is no due date [on] healing.” In response to skeptics asking “why now?” he said because it’s “time for justice.”

Giovonnie Samuels: The All That star, also in the doc, has since said she felt “overlooked” by Schneider as a Black actress. "It broke my heart,” she said learning about Bell’s sexual assault. “I cried.” In an interview with Collider, she said, “There is still a lot of good that has happened” for being on the show, but the “bad is there.”

Raquel Lee Bolleau: On The Amanda Show for one season, she reacted to the doc, which she did not appear in, on Instagram. “I’ve had a lot to process and deal with. You don’t realize how much your childhood affects you until later on in life when you have to face it up close and as personal as we all just did,” she wrote. She said it has “really helped her,” learning she’s not alone and she’s “praying for everyone involved.”

Jack Salvatore Jr.: An alum of Zoey 101 who went on to work in the writers' room for Schneider’s Sam & Cat, didn’t appear in the doc but watched it and made some new allegations about Schneider in a video. Among them was that Schneider allegedly pulled out a shotgun around writers at his home. Schneider has not yet addressed that allegation. Salvatore said the point of speaking out now is to never let these things happen to children again.

Devon Werkheiser: The actor from Nickelodeon’s Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide seemed to mock the docuseries and Bell’s sexual assault allegations in conversation with his former co-stars Lindsay Shaw and Daniel Curtis Lee. He has since apologized after Bell called him out.

Madisyn Shipman: The actress, who appeared on Nickelodeon’s Game Shakers, defended Schneider and slammed those who criticized her for it. “My experience is my experience,” she said.

As for who hasn’t spoken, there’s a long list. The directors of the doc talked to Yahoo Entertainment about trying to get Bynes, who declined participation, and their attempt to carefully examine that era without her participation. Ariana Grande (Sam & Cat) and Jamie Lynn Spears (Zoey 101) — two stars who were seemingly sexualized in their roles, as resurfaced show clips in the doc showed — did not participate and haven’t made statements. Neither have Miranda Cosgrove, Jennette McCurdy, Victoria Justice, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell.

Schneider, who was let go from Nickelodeon in 2018, broke his silence this week in the conversation with former Zoey 101 star Bowman (aka BooG!e). Schneider called the documentary “very difficult” to watch and some of his past behavior “embarrassing” and regretful. “I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology,” including for the massages that he had subordinates give him.

He defended himself on other allegations, however, saying he never hired Brian Peck and wasn’t aware of the abuse. He said all the sketches and costumes were reviewed by Nickelodeon execs before making it to air and denied being banned from any of his sets for toxic behavior.