Drake Bell Recalls Brian Peck “Sexually Assaulting” Him, “Mental Manipulation” in Dan Schneider Docuseries

Drake and Josh star Drake Bell is the biggest former child actor to allege having faced toxic workplaces at Nickelodeon while performing on Dan Schneider’s hit TV shows sets as part of Investigation Discovery’s docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV.

For the first time, Bell shares his story of alleged abuse at the hands of Brian Peck, his former dialogue coach, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a Nickelodeon child actor in 2004. Bell is not alone.

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The ID four-parter probes the toxic environment claims on sets run by Schneider, who created Nickelodeon hit programs like The Amanda Show, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly, Victorious and Sam & Cat and helped launch the careers of Kenan Thompson, Amanda Bynes, Victoria Justice, Miranda Cosgrove, Jennette McCurdy and others.

Here are some of the revelations about allegations of abuse, sexism, racism and inappropriate behavior involving underage stars and crew and alleged predators at the network, as set to be revealed in Quiet on the Set, which premieres across two nights on ID on March 17 and 18.

Dan Schneider allegedly ran or tolerated toxic workplace conditions on his hit show sets at Nickelodeon.

Former creatives and crewmembers who worked with Schneider on or behind the camera claim they endured toxic workplaces. “Working for Dan was like being in an abusive relationship,” Christy Stratton, one of only two women writers on The Amanda Show, along with Jenny Kilgen, tells the docuseries. What’s more, Stratton and Kilgen had to split a normal staff-writer salary to get hired. And it wasn’t long before Stratton recalls being told by Schneider “he didn’t think women were funny.” Kilgen adds: “He challenged us to name a funny female writer, and he said this to the writers in the writers room.” Kilgen says Schneider allegedly had pornography up on his computer screen and told her he’d put one of her sketches in the show in return for a massage. “He always presented it like a joke, and he’d be laughing while he said it. But you always felt like disagreeing with Dan, or standing up for yourself, could get you fired,” Kilgen claims. She also recounted Schneider one day in the writers room asking Stratton to lean across her desk and simulate being sodomized. “I would not do that today, but I did it then,” a strikingly embarrassed Stratton says on camera.

And for onscreen talent, Schneider was a kingmaker, the one who decided who became a star, including Amanda Bynes, and who would have their lines or even character roles cut from a series. Raquel Lee Bolleau, who appeared on The Amanda Show during its first season when she was 12, adds: “You wanted Dan to like you, because otherwise he was mean to you.” Case in point: Schneider apparently flipped out when he decided a birthday cake on set for Bolleau was too big. Then the jocular Schneider was replaced by a screaming tyrant. “Dan yelled a lot. Dan was like a tornado. He’d show up and you’d say, ‘What just happened?’ Dan showed up. The set wouldn’t feel the same when he’d leave, because everyone was on their toes, scared,” Bolleau claims at one point.

Christy Stratton Quiet On Set
Christy Stratton

Toxic workplaces in Hollywood are not new, but Nickelodeon sets stood out for being filled with vulnerable child actors.

Kid actors were made to wear suggestive costumes and take part in inappropriate sketches full of physical comedy and hinting at pornographic undertones, the series claims. An example is Leon Frierson, who was part of seasons 4 through 6 of All That, which also starred a young Amanda Bynes. In the doc, Frierson recalls playing the character of Captain Big Nose in a superhero costume of tights and underwear. Besides his prosthetic nose attached to his face, Frierson had matching noses on his shoulders. “You can’t help but notice that it looks like penises and testicles on my shoulders,” he recalled. And as part of the sketch comedy, Captain Big Nose unleashed a giant sneeze due to his allergy to asteroids. The result was a messy goo left on the face of a young woman in his path. “The joke in that sketch is effectively a cum shot joke. It’s a cum shot joke for children,” Schaachi Koul, culture writer, tells the doc in the first episode. Frierson adds: “Looking back, it’s very strange. Frankly, it was just uncomfortable. In the moment, I thought this is what we got to do to stay on the show, to stay in the cast and stay in the good graces of people that were higher up.” And that specifically meant doing right by Schneider. “Being close to Dan could mean an extra level of success. It was important to be on his good side, and he made it known who was on his good side,” he insists.

Bryan Hearne Quiet On Set
Former All That castmember Bryan Hearne

Former Nickelodeon star Drake Bell tells his story of alleged abuse at the hands of Brian Peck when he was only 14 and 15 years old.

The third episode of Quiet on Set centers on Drake Bell graphically recounting how he was allegedly groomed and suffered alleged sexual abuse at the hands of Nickelodeon dialogue coach Brian Peck. In 2003, Peck was accused of molesting a child. He was subsequently convicted of a lewd act against a child and oral copulation of a person under 16, and spent 16 months in prison. Only now do we learn Bell, then a minor at 15 years of age and the star of Nickelodeon shows like All That and The Amanda Show, was at the center of that criminal case and conviction. He recounted waking one morning while on Peck’s living room couch. “I woke up to him. … I woke up, opened my eyes, and he was sexually assaulting me. I froze and was in complete shock. I had no idea what to do or how to react,” Bell recounts. Peck is said to have manipulated Bell’s mother and others to allow himself free reign with a minor. “It just got worse and worse and worse and … worse, and I was just trapped and I had no way out,” Bell adds. It was only when the mother of Bell’s then girlfriend asked why Peck wouldn’t stop calling him that Bell sought therapy, but he was still not ready to share his secret. “Then I realized it was so calculated. You (Peck) moved all the pieces into place. The whole thing was mental manipulation,” Bell says of Peck’s behavior.

It’s a theme many now adult actors claim about their childhood selves on Nickelodeon shows during the Quiet on the Set series: If they spoke up for themselves, or had a parent do so on their behalf, they feared retribution and never being able to work again. But eventually in 2003, Bell talked to the police after finally telling his mother. “I’ve no idea what provoked it, what happened, but I just screamed into the phone everything that had happened to me,” Bell said. He recalled a “brutal” interview with two detectives and having to call Peck to get him to admit his guilt on a tapped phone. He did, with a full confession. Immediately after Peck’s arrest, Bell recalled a phone call from Schneider asking if the case had anything to do with him. “I was close enough with Dan that I was like, ‘Yeah, man, this is what he’s been doing.’ Dan just goes, ‘You don’t need to talk anymore about it. That’s all I needed to hear. Are you OK? Do you need anything from me. Anything you need,’” Bell tells the doc series. Then, when asked whether other Nickelodeon execs reached out to him personally, Bell made excuses: “I’m not really sure how many people knew who it was. It wasn’t really brought up to me a lot, maybe because it was a sensitive subject. But really the only person that I remember being there for me was Dan.” Bell would eventually headline his own series, Drake & Josh, on Nickelodeon.

In a statement, 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.”

Dan Schneider allegedly tormented and humiliated the cast and crew on his TV sets.

As Schneider grew more powerful as a kids TV producer, his relationships with fellow creatives apparently worsened to the point of alleged abuse, the series claims. “He would come down and yell and scream. There were many times I had to say, ‘You’re creating an atmosphere on this set that is not healthy,’” All That director Virgil Fabian alleges in Quiet on the Set‘s second episode. That toxicity extended to the edit suite. Karyn Finley Thompson, an editor on All That, The Amanda Show and Drake & Josh, claims she and others in production had little life outside work when working with Schneider. “You didn’t eat. You didn’t go to the bathroom. Dan would be, ‘Wait! Wait a minute! Hold it. Can you wait a minute?’“ And she’d give in to the incessant demands. “We all did it, or you got fired,” Thompson adds. She recalls one day keeling over in the edit suite and having to go to the hospital. “As I’m leaving and curled over, I could hear someone saying, ‘How is this show going to get finished?’ And I remember just saying, ‘I’ll be right back!’”

The docuseries argues it took the #MeToo movement to stop Schneider in his tracks at Nickelodeon, not internal controls.

After the #MeToo movement, Schneider and Nickelodeon finally parted ways following years of whispers and rumors. Before that, the network in 2014 launched an internal investigation into workplace conditions on Sam & Kat, which starred Ariana Grande and Jennette McCurdy. The result was Schneider, ever the hands-on showrunner, having to stop interacting with the series cast and stay in his office. That eased any alleged toxicity on set, while also keeping Schneider, the moneymaker, in the Nickelodeon tent, where he created two more shows, Game Shakers and Henry Danger. Until 2017 and Hollywood’s reckoning with hostile workplaces and sexual harassment and assault accusations against Harvey Weinstein and others, “a lot of rumors were circulating around Dan Schneider, and these really exploded online,” Business Insider writer Kate Taylor tells the series in the fourth episode. And a second internal investigation by Nickelodeon, while clearing Schneider of any hint of sexual misconduct, led to his exit in 2018. “It did find evidence of being abusive to others in the workplace,” Taylor reports. And the network changed the locks at the Nickelodeon on Sunset facility, where Schneider ran his empire. “Let’s collectively please not let another Dan happen. He cannot happen again. This is not a joke,” Alexa Nikolas, a Zoey 101 castmember, tells the series.

Quiet On Set
Kate Taylor

Schneider shared the following statement with the docuseries, which airs at the end of the four-parter: “Everything that happened on the shows I ran was carefully scrutinized by dozens of involved adults. All stories, dialogue, costumes, and makeup were fully approved by network executives on two coasts. A standards and practices group read and ultimately approved every script, and programming executives reviewed and approved all episodes. In addition, every day on set, there were always parents and caregivers and their friends watching us rehearse and film.”

That’s followed at the end of the final episode with: “And in response to producers’ questions, Nickelodeon has stated it ‘investigates all formal complaints as part of our commitment to fostering a safe and professional workplace… 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.'”

Separately, Nickelodeon released the following statement pertaining to the docuseries’ allegations: “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.”

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