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Your Favorite Child Stars Are Finally Breaking Their Silence On What They Endured

Actors Victoria Justice, Avan Jogia, Drake Bell and Josh Peck speak onstage during Nickelodeon's 27th Annual Kids' Choice Awards in March 2014.
Actors Victoria Justice, Avan Jogia, Drake Bell and Josh Peck speak onstage during Nickelodeon's 27th Annual Kids' Choice Awards in March 2014. Frazer Harrison/KCA2014 via Getty Images

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The nostalgia of our favorite kids shows quickly fades once we learn what the young actors in them endured, oftentimes giving up their childhoods so we could relish ours. Nearly two years after the hard revelations from Jennette McCurdy’s “I’m Glad My Mom Died,” one documentary seeks to shed light on the lesser-known side of children’s television.

On Tuesday, Investigation Discovery shared a preview of its forthcoming four-part docuseries “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV,” as HuffPost’s Jazmin Tolliver reported. The preview suggests that Drake Bell, a former star of the beloved Nickelodeon series “Drake & Josh,” will discuss how Brian Peck allegedly abused him when he was a child actor.

“Drake Bell will be sharing publicly, for the first time, the story of the abuse he suffered at the hands of Brian Peck, his former dialogue coach who was convicted in 2004 for his crimes against Drake and ordered to register as a sex offender,” Warner Bros. Discovery said in a press release. (Bell’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.)

But Bell isn’t the sole focus of “Quiet on Set.” According to a synopsis, the docuseries “pulls back the curtain on an empire, built by creator Dan Schneider, that had an undeniable grip on popular culture” and “uncovers the toxic and dangerous culture behind some of the most iconic children’s shows of the late 1990s and early 2000s.”

Meanwhile, former Disney Channel star Alyson Stoner (who appeared in one episode of “Drake & Josh”) has long been advocating for legal protections for child actors. Stoner, who uses they/them pronouns, danced in Missy Elliott’s “Work It” music video and starred in “Cheaper by the Dozen,” as well as the “Step Up” franchise. They are also known for their roles in “Camp Rock,” “That’s So Raven,” “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody” and “Phineas and Ferb.”

In a 2021 op-ed published by People magazine, Stoner discussed “narrowly” surviving what they called the “toddler-to-trainwreck” pipeline. They encouraged both consumers and industry players to “revisit the script,” imploring us to be cognizant of how growing up in the spotlight can negatively impact young people.

“On behalf of the current children being abused right now,” they wrote, “there is an opportunity for us to empower each other through honest conversation and collaborative action.”

As child stars become adults, they are finding unique outlets for reflecting on their careers, such as podcasts. In May 2023, journalist Reed Alexander, who played Nevel Papperman in “iCarly,” reported on how the audio startup PodCo had hit its stride, becoming a hub for ex-child stars to discuss myriad topics that would engage old viewers and fans.

Founded by “Even Stevens” star Christy Carlson Romano and husband Brendan Rooney, PodCo has offered podcasts with former cast members from series such as “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide” and the recently rebooted “Wizards of Waverly Place.” 

Romano has led the PodCo shows “Even More Stevens” and “Vulnerable,” where guests unpack “challenges of being a former child actor — from mental health to personal finance,” as Alexander wrote. Romano spoke with Stoner on “Vulnerable” back in 2022, inquiring about how life on screen has impacted their real-world identity and what healing looks like for child actors.

This all raises the question: Should child acting just be banned already?

To find out when “Quiet on Set” is slated to air, subscribe to The Culture Catchall here.