Advertisement

Former Nickelodeon stars speak out about alleged inappropriate work environments

A new documentary focuses on what some claim went on behind the scenes at some of the most popular Nickelodeon children's shows of the 1990s and early 2000s.

In the Investigation Discovery docuseries "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV," some former child stars allege they were subjected to inappropriate work environments, with former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell claiming he was sexually abused.

Bell, who appeared on Nickelodeon shows such as "All That" and "The Amanda Show" before starring in his own series, "Drake & Josh," from 2004 to 2007, said in a preview of the documentary released by ID last week, that he was the "John Doe" minor in the 2003 child sexual abuse case against his former dialogue coach Brian Peck.

PHOTO: In this Aug. 11, 2023 file photo, American singer Drake Bell performs on stage as part of his 'Non Stop Flight tour' at BB Auditorium in Mexico City.  ( Jaime Nogales/ Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images, FILE)
PHOTO: In this Aug. 11, 2023 file photo, American singer Drake Bell performs on stage as part of his 'Non Stop Flight tour' at BB Auditorium in Mexico City. ( Jaime Nogales/ Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images, FILE)

Peck was arrested in 2003 and charged with 11 counts including "lewd acts with a child" and sexual abuse of a minor. He pleaded guilty to two of the counts and was sentenced to 16 months in prison. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bell claimed Peck intentionally isolated him from his father -- who was also his manager -- when the two were on set.

"I think Brian got a sense that my dad was on the watch and so he started to really drive a wedge between my dad and me," Bell said in the docuseries. "He started talking about how my dad's stealing my money, nobody likes that my dad's on set, he's a real problem. I was believing it because he's been in this business for so long and he must know more than us."

Bell said the abuse he experienced put him on a path of self-destruction, including two convictions for driving under the influence and a child endangerment conviction in 2021.

In a statement, Nickelodeon said it was "dismayed and saddened to learn of the trauma [Bell] has endured, and we commend and support the strength required to come forward."

MORE: Drake Bell, former Nickelodeon star, found safe after being reported missing

Giovonnie Samuels and Bryan Hearne were also two of the child actors who starred in Nickelodeon's "All That" in 2001. They said Peck worked closely with the child actors on set.

"I can't even describe the feeling to know that there was a monster among us," Hearne told "Good Morning America."

Samuels said when she learned Bell had come forward as a victim of Peck, she felt devastated.

PHOTO: Giovonnie Samuels, left, and Bryan Hearne speak with ABC News' Eva Pilgrim, March 13, 2024, on 'Good Morning America.' (ABC News)
PHOTO: Giovonnie Samuels, left, and Bryan Hearne speak with ABC News' Eva Pilgrim, March 13, 2024, on 'Good Morning America.' (ABC News)

"It broke my heart. I cried," Samuels said.

"We weren't close with Drake but we were around him," Hearne added. "He was a legend. And so, to find out that he was being harmed ... in a terrible way, it infuriated me."

Hearne and Samuels also spoke to "GMA" about former writer and executive producer Dan Schneider, with whom Nickelodeon parted ways in 2018, after the network received complaints that Schneider created a hostile work environment.

When asked about what it was like working under Schneider, Samuels claimed she and Hearne -- "the two Black children" on set, as Hearne described them -- "were overlooked."

Samuels and Hearne said they worked on sketches that were written by Schneider's team, such as "On Air Dare."

"Those were torture moments for all of us," Samuels said of their experience.

In one dare, Hearne was covered in peanut butter and then subsequently licked by multiple dogs.

"My on air dare, I was saying, 'I don't like this.' And to see that ... and to have voiced it ... was it funny?" Hearne said.

"It wasn't [funny] for me," Samuels added.

Hearne and Samuels said they hope "Quiet on Set" can spark an important conversation about the treatment of child actors.

"Your childhood is gonna be a little tainted after watching it. But I hope that it helps you protect the next group of kids that comes up," Samuels said.

In response to claims of hostile workplace environments, Nickelodeon told ABC News that while it "cannot corroborate or negate allegations of behaviors from productions decades ago, Nickelodeon as a matter of policy investigates all formal complaints as part our commitment to fostering a safe and professional workplace environment free of harassment or other kinds of inappropriate conduct," adding that it has "adopted numerous safeguards over the years to help ensure we are living up to own high standards and the expectations of our audience."

MORE: Amanda Bynes files to end conservatorship

A spokesperson for Schneider told ABC News his scripts went through multiple layers of executive approval and that parents and caregivers of child actors were always on set during filming. "Dan expected and asked a lot from his teams ... but he also knows some people did not have a positive experience, and he is truly sorry for that," the spokesperson said.

"Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV," a four-part docuseries, will explore other behind-the-scenes allegations from actors and writers that allegedly occurred on children's shows in the 1990s and early 2000s, including iconic Nickelodeon shows such as "iCarly" and "Zoey 101."

PHOTO: “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” is to air on March 17 and 18 on Investigation Discovery. (Investigation Discovery)
PHOTO: “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” is to air on March 17 and 18 on Investigation Discovery. (Investigation Discovery)

It is set to premiere across two nights, March 17-18 at 9-11 p.m. ET/PT, on Investigation Discovery, or ID.

According to a press release from the true crime network, the show "reveals an insidious environment rife with allegations of abuse, sexism, racism, and inappropriate dynamics with its underage stars and crew."

The documentary will feature the director and cast members from "iCarly," "Sam & Cat," "Victorious" and "All That," as well as writers from "The Amanda Show."

Directed by Mary Robertson and Emma Schwartz and produced by Maxine Productions and Sony Pictures Television, the show will "shine a spotlight on these emotional accounts, chronicling a pattern of gross, abusive, and manipulative behavior that unfolded across decades, as well as exclusive stories about child predators on set," according to the release.

Former Nickelodeon stars speak out about alleged inappropriate work environments originally appeared on goodmorningamerica.com