Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Apologies do not erase the damage done to Drake Bell

A look at the apologies given by Hollywood professionals after defending an abuser
Quiet on Set’s IMDb

Content warning: Sexual assault, abuse of a minor

Over the past few weeks, many have been consumed by discussions surrounding child actors on Nickelodeon in the late 90s and early 2000s. While this is far from the first report about the toxic and destructive environment of the entertainment industry for minors, a new docuseries has shed light on some dark and heartbreaking information.

“Quiet on Set,” a docuseries released on Max, includes interviews from veteran Nickelodeon actors, writers and other people who were involved in the creation of nostalgic favorites such as “All That” and “The Amanda Show.” It details a misogynistic and toxic work environment headed by writer, executive producer and showrunner Dan Schneider.

Brian Peck, a well-known dialogue coach who worked on the aforementioned series, was arrested for “lewd acts with a child” in 2003. The victim remained anonymous in the aftermath of the case until the release of “Quiet on Set.” It was revealed at the end of the third episode that Peck assaulted Drake Bell during his time on “The Amanda Show” and “Drake and Josh.”

For the first time, Bell and his father sit down to discuss the actor’s time on the show and the cruelty he faced at Peck’s hands. Over 20 years after the assault, Bell is still unable to talk about the extent of the abuse in which he endured: “The abuse was extensive and it got pretty brutal. I don’t know how to elaborate on that on camera, really… Why don’t you think of the worst stuff that someone could do to somebody as a sexual assault, and then I’ll answer your question. I don’t know how else to put it.”

With the help of the police, Bell was able to get Peck on record admitting to everything he had done to the then 15-year-old child. In 2004, Peck was sentenced to only 16 months in prison after pleading “no contest” to two of his 11 charges.

Even though Peck admitted in full to the charges, there were a countless number of well-known people who came to Peck’s defense before his sentencing. In fact, there were 41 people who wrote character letters to the judge defending Peck.

The 41 people who supported Peck include stars like James Marsden, Will Friedle, Rider Strong, Alan Thicke and directors Beth and Rich Correll. They were under the impression that these letters would remain sealed, and they would never get into the public eye; however, that changed when “Quiet on Set” was able to petition the court and unseal the letters.

Friedle, a co-star on “Boy Meets World” writes in his letter to the court, “I can only reiterate how devastated Brian is and how these past events have forever changed him.” The entire letter uplifts Peck, completely disregarding the unforgiveable thing he did to a child who trusted him. Friedle discusses how he had never witnessed Peck do anything of this nature while he worked on “Boy Meets World.”

Beth Correll, a director who worked with her husband on shows like “Drake and Josh” and “The Amanda Show,” wrote in her letter, “…Brian is an honest, law-abiding man who would do what is necessary to move forward with his life. This man is not a predator.”

Now that this information is out, many of the people who once vouched for Peck’s character are attempting to claim that they were not aware of the full story and were on the wrong side of the court that day. They have had 20 years to make up for what they have done, but have chosen not to until the public is aware of their wrongdoings. Not only did they wait to apologize until they were caught, none of the 41 people had apologized to Bell himself.

Is this apology enough? Bell made a now-deleted comment on former child actor, Alexa Nikolas’ Instagram page saying, “Will [Friedle] was not manipulated. Brian admitted it to [Friedle] and he wrote the letter anyway.” Friedle attempts to reconcile what he did on his podcast back in February with Rider Strong by saying, “My instinct initially was, ‘My friend, this can’t be. It’s gotta be the other person’s fault.'” At age 27, Strong chose to blame the victim instead of the perpetrator and did not apologize to Bell himself, only once he realized that he would be exposed.

Beth and Rich Correll also apologized for what they had done: “…we deeply regret our decision many years ago to request leniency for someone who we later learned had committed a horrible crime and caused so much pain and trauma to Drake…”

The Corrells also failed to apologize directly to Bell. They not only supported a man who is on the California Sex Offender Registry, but also considered him a friend. The pair claim to have realized they were on the wrong side of the court while watching his sentence, but only now apologize. These are the people that worked alongside Bell in different projects over the years but decided never to mention how their actions hurt him.

The apologies are 20 years late, and those involved must be held accountable for the damage that they took part in. The first step should be sincerely apologizing to Bell himself, not doing something just for publicity.

Mary DeCarlo can be reached at [email protected].

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *