The Biggest Bombshells from 'Quiet on Set,' the Docuseries Alleging Toxic Culture on Nickelodeon Shows

'Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV' offers a disturbing look behind some of the most iconic children’s shows of the late 1990s and early 2000s

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty; Kevin Winter/Getty</p> Drake Bell (left) and Dan Schneider

Kevin Mazur/Getty; Kevin Winter/Getty

Drake Bell (left) and Dan Schneider

From former child actor Drake Bell speaking out about being sexually assaulted by a Nickelodeon dialogue coach to sexism accusations against producer Dan Schneider made by the only two female writers of The Amanda Show, a new Investigation Discovery docuseries features a slew of disturbing bombshells and allegations.

Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV goes inside some of the toxic culture of children’s television shows that young actors and others endured in the 1990s and 2000s, including many series produced by Dan Schneider. It also features interviews with former actors, writers and crew members from hit Nickelodeon shows All That, The Amanda Show and Zoey 101 as they detail the alleged disturbing environment behind the scenes.

Schneider left the network in 2018 after an internal investigation into his allegedly verbally abusive and demanding behavior on set. Schneider has denied allegations of misconduct.

All four episodes of Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, which premiered on March 17, are out now on ID and streaming on Max.

Here are the six most shocking revelations from the docuseries.

Drake Bell Was Repeatedly Sexually Assaulted By Nickelodeon Dialogue Coach Brian Peck

For the first time, Drake Bell, the one time star of Drake & Josh, speaks of being repeatedly molested by dialogue coach Brian Peck (no relation to Bell's co-star Josh Peck) when Bell was 15.

Bell landed an acting job on Nickelodeon's The Amanda Show in 1999. The next year, on the first day of the show's second season, Bell met Brian Peck, a dialogue coach who befriended him and would invite him to his house for acting lessons.

“I was sleeping on the couch where I usually sleep and I woke up to him... I opened my eyes and I woke up and he was…he was sexually assaulting me,” Bell says in the docuseries. “And I froze, and was in complete shock and had no idea what to do or how to react.”

<p>Courtesy Investigation Discovery</p> Drake Bell in 'Quiet on Set'

Courtesy Investigation Discovery

Drake Bell in 'Quiet on Set'

Bell also says the abuse happened more than once — and that he was afraid of speaking out.

“And it just got worse, and worse, and worse, and worse, and I was just trapped,” Bell explains. “I had no way out. The abuse was extensive and it got pretty brutal.”

In 2004, Peck pleaded no contest to a charge of oral copulation with a minor under 16 and performing a lewd act with a 14- or 15-year-old in connection with Bell's case. Peck spent 16 months in prison and was required to register as a sex offender.

<p>Albert L. Ortega/Getty</p> Brian Peck

Albert L. Ortega/Getty

Brian Peck

Bell's identity as the victim was not made public at the time.

In a statement to PEOPLE, Nickelodeon said, "Now that Drake Bell has disclosed his identity as the plaintiff in the 2004 case, we are dismayed and saddened to learn of the trauma he has endured, and we commend and support the strength required to come forward."

Related: Actor Drake Bell Was Sexually Assaulted by Nickelodeon Dialogue Coach: 'It Was Extensive and Brutal'

According to Bell, Schneider was not aware Bell was Peck's victim until Bell confided in him. Schneider offered to support him in any way he could, Bell says in the docuseries.

Brian Peck Flaunted Painting by Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy

In the docuseries, it is revealed that Peck had a signed self-portrait painting of infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy that he boasted about in front of another child star.

Former All That cast member Kyle Sullivan, then 14, talks about seeing the painting inside of Peck’s home, which included a shrine to Planet of the Apes and — most notably — a painting of a clown holding balloons, which seemingly had nothing to do with the famous sci-fi franchise.

Sullivan says when he asked Peck about the painting, the dialogue coach became excited.

<p>Globe Photos/Alamy Stock Photo</p> Kyle Sullivan, right, with the cast of 'All That'

Globe Photos/Alamy Stock Photo

Kyle Sullivan, right, with the cast of 'All That'

“Brian flipped the thing around and on the back it said ‘To Brian, I hope you enjoy the painting. Best wishes, your friend, John Wayne Gacy,’” Sullivan recalls in the docuseries.

The former child star also says Peck had a collection of letters he had been sent by Gacy, who was known as the "Killer Clown" and raped and killed over 30 young men and boys in the 1970s.

<p>Bureau of Prisons/Getty; Steve Eichner/WireImage</p> John Wayne Gacy, left, and a self-portrait.

Bureau of Prisons/Getty; Steve Eichner/WireImage

John Wayne Gacy, left, and a self-portrait.

“Brian actually developed a pen pal relationship with John,” Sullivan says. “He kept this pile of letters and photos from John Wayne Gacy in his nightstand next to his bed.”

Series directors Mary Robertson and Emma Schwartz told PEOPLE in a statement ahead of the premiere that they were surprised at the bombshell.

Related: Pedophile Who Sexually Assaulted Drake Bell Flaunted Painting by Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy, New Doc Reveals (Exclusive)

“When we uncovered this revelation during the process of making the documentary, we were shocked," Robertson and Schwartz said. "It raised a lot of questions about power dynamics on set and off, and what dangers were hiding in plain sight. Exploring those dynamic and revealing the secrets behind how culture is made is at the core of what we are trying to do with Quiet on Set."

James Marsden and Other Actors Once Defended Brian Peck with Letters of Support

Quiet on Set also recounts the actors who wrote letters of support for Brian Peck when the disgraced former dialogue coach was set to be sentenced in 2004 for sexually abusing Bell.

It’s not clear how much about the charges those who spoke out in support of Peck knew at the time.

In his letter of support for Peck, James Marsden wrote, “I assure you what Brian has been through in the last year is the suffering of 100 men,” adding that he has known Peck since he was a teenager. A representative for Marsden did not respond to a previous request for comment from PEOPLE.

<p>Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty; Albert L. Ortega/Getty</p> James Marsden (left) and Brian Peck

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty; Albert L. Ortega/Getty

James Marsden (left) and Brian Peck

Peck, who appeared on two episodes of Boy Meets World, also received letters of support from two of the show’s stars, Will Friedle and Rider Strong. Though they did not immediately respond to previous requests for comment from PEOPLE, Friedle and Strong addressed the letters as well as their appearances at the sentencing hearing on their podcast, Pod Meets World. Both expressed regret for supporting Peck.

Other actors who the docuseries says wrote letters in support of Peck include Alan Thicke — who died in 2016 — SNL alum Taran Killam, Growing Pains star Joanna Kerns and Twin Peaks actress Kimmy Robertson. X-Men producer Tom DeSanto was also named in Quiet on Set as having written a letter. Killam and Robertson could not be reached for comment.

Related: James Marsden and Other Stars Wrote Letters of Support for Convicted Child Molester Brian Peck

In a statement featured in Quiet on Set, Kerns expressed regret over having written her letter.

“I have now learned that my letter of support was based on complete misinformation,” Kerns said. “Knowing what I know now, I would never have written the letter.”

In a statement to PEOPLE issued through his representative, DeSanto said in part, “Having dedicated a significant portion of my career to shedding light on systemic abuse and advocating for those without a voice. These experiences have profoundly shaped my understanding of responsibility and advocacy and is at the core of who I am."

The series also notes that neither Schneider nor any top Nickelodeon executives wrote letters in support of Peck.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Brian Peck Are Briefly Shown on Set of ABC's 'Growing Pains'

In the ID docuseries, an archival clip is shown of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brian Peck on the set of ABC sitcom Growing Pains. . During an interview with Drake Bell’s father, Joe Bell — who managed his son’s career before Peck stepped in — Joe recalls the first time he met Peck on the set of The Amanda Show.

Joe says he was told that Peck was a skilled coach who could help his son to book more acting gigs. People had told him that Peck had even worked with DiCaprio, Joe says.

Related: Why Leonardo DiCaprio Pops Up In Documentary About Drake Bell’s Sexual Assault by a Nickelodeon Dialogue Coach

While Joe says he was “always within eye distance” of Peck and Bell as they worked together, he started to become uncomfortable with the relationship that was developing between them. He claims that while his son was in his dressing room, Peck would touch Bell in front of others in ways that made him question Peck’s intentions.

Joe also says he frequently saw Peck wrap his arms around Bell’s waist while feeding him lines, or place his hand on Bell's shoulder and "kind of run it down his arm." He compared the behavior to a video he once saw — which is also shown on Quiet on Set — of Peck with a young DiCaprio behind the scenes of Growing Pains.

<p>ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty</p> Leonardo DiCaprio on 'Growing Pains' in 1991

ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Leonardo DiCaprio on 'Growing Pains' in 1991

"Leo as you know is the latest, hottest, hunkiest teen idol there is,” Peck is heard saying in the archival clip. DiCaprio then playfully showed off his muscles for the camera.

DiCaprio was not described in the docuseries as having been connected to sexual abuse or sex crimes committed by Peck.

Female Writers Accuse Dan Schneider of Making Them Give Him Massages

The docuseries explores the unusual tasks allegedly assigned to female writers on The Amanda Show by Dan Schneider, such as continuously massaging him in front of other writers and crew members.

Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen, who were featured in the docuseries, were hired for The Amanda Show in 1999. They were the show's sole female writers, and they both split a single salary between the two of them, the docuseries reveals.

Kilgen claimed in the docuseries that Schneider "didn't think women were funny," showed pornography from his computer and pressured others to publicly perform uncomfortable activities — like allegedly asking Stratton to tell a story like she was being "sodomized" — as jokes.

“Working for Dan was like being in an abusive relationship,” Stratton alleges in the docuseries.

<p>Warner Bros. Discovery</p> Christy Stratton in 'Quiet on Set'

Warner Bros. Discovery

Christy Stratton in 'Quiet on Set'

Kilgen also talks about the meaning behind the name of The Amanda Show character “Penelope Taynt,” claiming Schneider was inspired by the word “taint," a term used to refer to the perineum.

“Dan had said to us in the writers room, ‘Don’t tell what this word really means.’ He wanted us to keep that a secret,” Kilgen alleges.

Related: ID Docuseries Goes Inside Alleged 'Toxic Environment' of Kids TV Shows Under Dan Schneider

According to the docuseries, Kilgen and her lawyer filed complaints against the production company for gender discrimination, hostile work environment and harassment. While a settlement was reached and an internal investigation completed, Kilgen claims her career suffered as a result.

In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for Schneider said, “Nothing has been alleged about Dan other than him being a tough boss who got into disagreements with other adult executives at Nickelodeon and when Dan departed Nickelodeon a full investigation was done and again, that’s all that they found.”

'All That' Alums Bryan Hearne and Giovonnie Samuels Recall Traumatic Experiences at Nickelodeon

All That alums Bryan Hearne and Giovonnie Samuels found their experiences working as some of Nickelodeon's few young Black actors in the early 2000s to be traumatic.

For Hearne, he cringes at the memory of being cast on the sketch comedy show in what he believes was a racially stereotyped roles as a rapper named "Lil Fetus," and a teen who sold cookies in an apparent reference to drug dealing.

“I was referred to as a ‘piece of charcoal’ [by an adult],” he recently told PEOPLE and also shares in the docuseries. “Remarks like that are harmful. They stay with you.”

Hearne, now 35, adds, “I was already in an uncomfortable position being in a leotard. That's not something that I'm used to at all.”

<p>Courtesy of Investigation Discovery</p> Bryan Hearne in 'Quiet on Set'

Courtesy of Investigation Discovery

Bryan Hearne in 'Quiet on Set'

In the docuseries, Hearne also recounts what he remembers to be a demeaning stunt where he was covered in peanut butter for dogs to lick off when he was 13-year-old on Nickelodeon’s On-Air Dare, an apparent kids’ version of Fear Factor. He also mentions that in the clip shown in the docuseries, he is heard saying he didn't like it, but the "dare" went on.

"We felt like we couldn't say no,” Hearne told PEOPLE. “It was a really uncomfortable situation, and after a while it felt like we were just part of this torture chamber.”

<p>Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Amy Graves/WireImage</p> Bryan Hearne (left) and Giovonnie Samuels

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage; Amy Graves/WireImage

Bryan Hearne (left) and Giovonnie Samuels

Both Hearne and Samuels said they didn’t have much of a relationship with Schneider, with Hearne telling PEOPLE, he felt like he was treated differently than some of the other non-Black child actors. The two told PEOPLE that they largely leaned on each other during that time.

Samuels, now 38, told PEOPLE that while working on All That as a teenager, she was the sole Black actress not given a hairstylist and was being trained to avoid choking during a sketch that required drinking enormous amounts of fake coffee and sugar and felt like “waterboarding.”

Related: Former All That Child Star Bryan Hearne Alleges He Was Called a ‘Piece of Charcoal’ While Working at Nickelodeon (Exclusive)

"You're always asking yourself, 'Do I speak up?' And if I do speak up, will I lose my job? Or do I just let it go?” Samuels told PEOPLE.

In the docuseries, Hearne and Samuels also talk about their reactions to learning about the presence of sexual predators at Nickelodeon and how Hearne’s mother often called out odd behavior on set.

In a statement to PEOPLE regarding alleged behaviors on past production sets, Nickelodeon said, “Though we cannot corroborate or negate allegations of behaviors from productions decades ago, Nickelodeon as a matter of policy investigates all formal complaints as part of our commitment to fostering a safe and professional workplace environment free of harassment or other kinds of inappropriate conduct.”

The statement continued, “Our highest priorities are the well-being and best interests not just of our employees, casts and crew, but of all children, and we have adopted numerous safeguards over the years to help ensure we are living up to our own high standards and the expectations of our audience.”

All four episodes of Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV are out now on ID and streaming on Max.

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