‘Quiet on Set: Dark Side of Kids TV’ Exposes Toxic Culture at Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon's 17th Annual Kids' Choice Awards - Backstage
WESTWOOD, CA - APRIL 3: The Nickelodeon's 17th Annual Kids' Choice Awards Sign at Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA, April 3, 2004 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
6:19 PM – Tuesday, March 19, 2024

A new docuseries called Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV has shed light on allegations regarding Nickelodeon television executives and producers on set, including “abuse, sexism, racism, and inappropriate dynamics with its underage stars and crew.” 


The docuseries debuted on Sunday on the network Investigation Discovery and concluded on Monday.

“Investigation Discovery is an American multinational pay television network dedicated to true crime documentaries owned by Warner Bros. Discovery,” according to its website.

One plot of the series, mentions that a starring actor on the television show Drake & Josh, Drake Bell, came forward for the first time and admitted that he was sexually abused as a child actor by acting and dialogue coach Brian Peck, who was found guilty in 2004 of performing a lewd act on a minor and for verbally abusing a person under the age of 16, which is illegal in California.

“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, was in complete shock, and had no idea what to do or how to react.”

Bell also maintains that the abuse happened a number of times and that he was intimidated into not 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.”

According to Bell, producer Dan Schneider had not been aware that Bell was Peck’s victim until Bell confided in him. Schneider offered to support him in any way he could, Bell claims in the documentary.

In front of another child star, Peck also boasted about owning a signed self-portrait painting of notorious homosexual serial killer John Wayne Gacy, as revealed in the documentary series.

Kyle Sullivan, a former cast member of the television show All That who was only 14-years-old at the time, also recounts seeing the paintings inside Peck’s house, including one that featured the serial killer clown (Gacy) holding balloons and another that featured a shrine to Planet of the Apes.

Sullivan claims that the dialogue coach became visibly excited when he questioned him about the painting.

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

In addition, the same former child star claims that Gacy sent Peck a number of letters that he had received from the notorious serial killer himself. During the 1970s, Gacy sexually assaulted and killed thirty-three boys, ages 14-21.

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

Additionally, in the docuseries, female writers accused Schneider, who Bell had confided in, of allegedly taking advantage of female writers on The Amanda Show, forcing them to massage him in front of other writers and crew members. 

The docuseries stars former Nickelodeon employees Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen, who were hired as writers for The Amanda Show in 1999. The docuseries reveals that they were the only female writers on the show and that their “single salary was divided between the two of them.”

Kilgen asserts that Schneider “didn’t think women were funny,” constantly displayed explicit images from his computer, and coerced people into engaging in inappropriate, awkward public acts as jokes, such as asking Stratton to tell a story about how she was “sodomized.”

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

Kilgen also discusses the origins of the name “Penelope Taynt,” one of the sketch character’s names in the show, expressing that Schneider was solely motivated by the word “taint,” a term for the perineum. The perverse producer thought that the name would be funny since it was a children’s show and he had assumed that minors would not catch on to the inappropriate nature of the name.

“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.

The documentary claims that Kilgen and her attorney complained to the production company about harassment, a hostile work environment, and gender discrimination. Kilgen says that even though an internal investigation was carried out and a settlement was reached, her career still suffered as a result.

In a statement to People Magazine, 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 four episodes of Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV are out now on ID and streaming on Max (formerly HBO Max).

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