The Worst Revelations About Nickelodeon Revealed In Quiet On Set

If you've heard anything about the new documentary "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV" (and chances are you have, given the revelations therein), you might have heard that your childhood is about to be ruined by watching. While the Investigation Discovery series will certainly reframe your cherished memories of wiling the afternoons away watching the golden age of Nickelodeon, the truth is that your childhood will not be ruined by watching this documentary. Many of the kids involved in making those shows, however, actually had their childhoods ruined.

"Quiet on Set" is a truly upsetting four-episode documentary series now streaming on MAX (the streaming service that combines Discovery and HBO media). The show systematically lays out what is a striking failure on the part of Nickelodeon and showrunner Dan Schneider to safeguard both the children and many of the adults under their employ. But that really doesn't get to the heart of what is so unbelievably distressing about this documentary. The sheer amount of outrageous developments detailed in "Quiet on Set" is genuinely difficult to believe, not to mention how long this stuff was allowed to go on unabated — though, it should be said that many of those accused have disputed the claims made in the series, and we'll point out these objections as we go.

Needless to say, everyone should watch this documentary if only to give the victims a chance to be as widely heard as possible. In the interest of amplifying their voices and spreading the word about how ridiculously easy it was for these abuses (and that's putting it lightly) to happen, we've detailed the worst revelations from "Quiet on Set," but I implore you to watch for yourselves.

There were multiple child predators working at Nickelodeon

Each of the series' four episodes contains shocking revelations, any one of which would be enough to tarnish the legacy of classic Nickelodeon TV. As such, it's hard to parse "Quiet on Set " for the most shocking disclosures, but this might be as good a place as any to start: Nickelodeon had multiple pedophiles working on set.

As detailed throughout the series, and summed up in the fourth and final episode "Too Close to the Sun," there were three pedophiles working across high-profile series at Nickelodeon from the '90s to the late 2000s. Firstly, production assistant Jason Michael Handy worked on "All That" and "The Amanda Show," and was often tasked with escorting the child actors around the set. In 2004, Handy was given a six-year sentence for molesting two girls. "Quiet on Set" specifically details Handy's interactions with a young girl by the name of Brandi, who guest-starred on "The Amanda Show" at the age of 11. Following her appearance, she stayed in email contact with Handy, who eventually sent what Brandi's mother described as "a picture of him [Handy] naked masturbating."

Episode four of "Quiet on Set" revealed that Nickelodeon animator Ezel Channel was jailed for more than seven years following a 2009 conviction for sexually abusing teenage boys. Adding to the horror of it all, Channel was already a convicted sex offender when he was given his seven-year four-month sentence. What's more, his abuses occurred at the Nickelodeon studio itself. These revelations by themselves are so harrowing as to be unbelievable, especially considering the context of children's TV. But just to make things even more upsetting, there was a third child predator who worked across Nickelodeon shows: Brian Peck.

Drake Bell was groomed and abused by his acting and dialogue coach

In episode three of the series, appropriately titled "The Darkest Secret," star of the beloved Nickelodeon series "Drake and Josh" and the channel's TV film series "The Fairly OddParents," Drake Bell, reveals that he was sexually assaulted on a consistent and ongoing basis by dialogue and acting coach Brian Peck. Peck — who worked across multiple Nickelodeon shows — pled no contest to two charges of child sexual abuse in 2004 and was sentenced to 16 months in prison (more on that later) as well as being required to register as a sex offender. Following the case, the court documents were sealed and Bell's identity was kept secret, but that has all changed with the release of "Quiet on Set."

You might have seen headlines about how Bell was "sexually abused" by Peck, but that phrase doesn't convey the horror of what occurred. According to the unsealed documents and Bell's claims, the former child star was repeatedly raped by Peck, who forced him to engage in sexual acts when he was still a minor over a prolonged period. In the series, Bell can only bring himself to describe it as, "The worst stuff that someone could do to somebody as a sexual assault." Not only that, Peck groomed his victim over several years, from the time they both worked on Nickelodeon's "The Amanda Show" when Bell was just 12 years old.

Since then, Bell himself was sentenced to two years' probation in 2021 after pleading guilty to a felony, attempted child endangerment, and a misdemeanor charge of disseminating matter harmful to juveniles (via AP News). I won't make any claims about why Bell might have engaged in such behavior, but needless to say, the whole thing is a horrific and deeply sad story.

Letters of support for Brian Peck

Within the larger Drake Bell revelation there are numerous details that are similarly horrifying. Take, for instance, the fact that when Bell showed up to court he noticed that Brian Peck's side of the courtroom was full of "recognizable faces." As Bell puts it in the documentary, "Brian had been convicted but getting all of this support from a lot of people in the industry and I was pretty shocked."

The truly shocking part comes with the revelation that multiple people within the industry wrote heartfelt letters of support for the convicted sex offender. Overall, there were 41 letters urging the judge to be lenient in his sentencing, from such high-profile individuals as actor James Marsden, Bell's ex-"The Amanda Show" co-star and former "Saturday Night Live" star Tarran Killam, Ron Melendez, Alan Thicke, Rider Strong, and Will Friedle. It should be noted, however, that it's not clear how much these individuals knew about the extent of Peck's crimes at the time.

Since the documentary has premiered, several of these individuals have come forward to apologize. As Variety reported, Beth and Rich Correll, who directed episodes of "The Amanda Show," "All That," and "Drake & Josh," have issued an extensive apology. Meanwhile, Strong and Friedle addressed the situation on their "Pod Meets World" podcast, with Strong claiming that Peck explained the whole thing as "'I'm a victim of jailbait. There was this hot guy. I just did this thing, and he's underage.'"

Still, for those who did write in support of Peck, it's going to take a lot to move past this. If you want to witness the extent to which this particular revelation has reverberated, check the comments on some of these people's latest Instagram posts...

Brian Peck roams free

To be sure, the multiple assaults endured by Drake Bell are hideous, to say the least. But what happened afterward is almost as egregious as the crimes themselves. At the end of "Quiet on Set" episode three, Bell says:

"I was hoping that the outcome would be [Peck] goes to jail, he is there for a while, and that he would never be able to work with kids again — which would, in turn, pretty much mean that you're not going to work in Hollywood because very few productions don't have at least one kid on the set."

When asked by a producer if that was what happened, Bell responds, "No, that is not what happened. That's not what happened at all."

As episode four of "Quiet on Set" explains, Brian Peck not only served just 16 months in jail for his horrific crimes, but almost immediately went back to work in TV — children's TV for that matter. Per Variety, the convicted child sex offender was hired to provide voiceover work on three episodes of "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody," though the outlet claims to have confirmed Peck was "never on set and had zero interaction with any cast or crew," while an insider stated Peck was fired once Disney learned of his conviction.

Now, if you spend just a little time looking into Peck's post-conviction life, you might come across a sentence stating something along the lines of "Peck currently resides in Los Angeles." There's something deeply upsetting about the straightforwardness of a sentence like that given all the horrors detailed in "Quiet on Set," which makes the revelation that Peck was simply allowed to return to his life after 16 months one of the most quietly enraging in the whole series.

The treatment of The Amanda Show's women writers

It's telling that we've listed multiple shocking revelations from "Quiet on Set" and still haven't gotten to what is arguably the centerpiece of the whole series. Throughout the documentary, we're shown how writer, producer, showrunner, and all-round Nickelodeon golden boy Dan Schneider established his own mini-empire at the channel, creating and overseeing multiple popular series that helped put Nick on the map. But according to multiple people interviewed in "Quiet on Set," the man's behavior during his tenure at the channel was nothing short of atrocious.

There are so many stories about Schneider's behavior recounted in the series, from forcing female staff members to massage him on-set, to writing crude and sexual jokes for the child stars to perform. According to several interviewees, however, Schneider could also be truly frightening. Writers Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen were hired to work on season 1 of Schneider's "The Amanda Show," but only after agreeing to split a full salary between them. During their time there, the pair claim to have been the victims of multiple indignities, such as when Schneider allegedly pushed Stratton to pitch an idea for the show while simulating being "sodomized" in front of the writing staff.

The whole thing ended in a similarly sordid fashion when Kilgen contacted the Writers Guild of America to question the salary situation and was threatened by Schneider, who Kilgen claims stated that if he found out she contacted the Guild, she was "never going to work for Nickelodeon again." Kilgen left the show in season 2 after being asked to work 11 weeks for free (Schneider claims that he had "no control" over salary) while Stratton was fired during the last week of her work on season 1 of "The Amanda Show."

The fact that all of this was allowed to happen for so long

One of the most unbelievable parts of "Quiet on Set" is that the abuse was allowed to go on for as long as it did. As detailed in episode four, Dan Schneider was eventually cut loose by Nickelodeon in 2018, but this seemed far too little too late. Actor Alexa Nikolas, who starred in Schneider's show "Zooey 101," spoke about her experience in episode four, claiming her character, Nicole, was a sexualized "archetype of male gaze female," and didn't "represent even me at that age." Nikolas recalls what many other interviewees throughout "Quiet on Set" spoke about: that Dan Schneider ran toxic sets where inappropriate behavior was the norm. When discussing the showrunner's departure from Nickelodeon, Nikolas says, "They should have fired him a long time ago."

That single line gets to the most unbelievable part of the whole thing: that this stuff was allowed to continue for so long. As journalist Kate Taylor says in episode four, "I don't think that you can blame Schneider for hiring Brian Peck because he was not a registered sex offender when he hired him." But surely we can blame him for not being aware of the ongoing grooming of members of his child cast? In Drake Bell's case, the actor's father was well aware of the inappropriate relationship developing between his son and Peck, so why wasn't Schneider? As is shown throughout the documentary, the man was on set all the time, usually being massaged by some poor staffer from the costume department. Why wasn't he paying attention? The extent of the abuse and the amount of time it was allowed to continue is truly one of the most upsetting revelations in "Quiet on Set."

What have Dan Schneider and Nickelodeon said?

Following the release of "Quiet on Set," Dan Schneider issued a lengthy video attempting to deal with the allegations and revelations in the documentary. In the video, Schneider talks about "Facing my past behaviors, some of which are embarrassing and that I regret, and I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology." Meanwhile, Nickelodeon issued an official statement shown throughout "Quiet on Set." It reads:

"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. 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."

Drake Bell has since called this statement "a really well-tailored response by probably some big attorney in Hollywood," ultimately feeling it to be "empty." Over the next few weeks you can expect to see more mea culpas and apologies emerging, but what would be really great to see is some sort of concrete explanation of the steps being taken to ensure the events detailed in "Quiet on Set" and recapped in this article will never be allowed to happen again.