‘Quiet on Set’ Survivors Say They Wouldn’t Have Agreed to Docuseries If They Knew It Was for the ID Network SuperNayr

Two “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV” participants claim they did not know the docuseries was being made for Investigation Discovery, and said they would not have agreed to interviews if they did.

“I’m not too familiar with ID, but for the interview I sat down for, it was not an appropriate network for the show,” former “The Amanda Show” actress Raquel Lee Bolleau told IndieWire. “I had no clue it was on [ID] until one or two weeks before it aired.”

“I didn’t even know what ID was honestly,” ex-“Zoey 101” cast member Alexa Nikolas told IndieWire. “When I looked it up, my first thought was our stories and the conversation that deserves to be had around them are way bigger than ID and deserve a more credible platform. A more serious one.”

MIAMI, FLORIDA - APRIL 8: Actors Alisha Weir and Melissa Barrera are seen at the 'Abigail' special screening at Silverspot Cinema - Downtown Miami on April 8, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
'Curb Your Enthusiasm'

The remarks come on the heels of the former Nickelodeon actresses alleging that “Quiet on Set” creators Emma Schwartz and Mary Robertson made their true crime exposé — about shocking allegations of long covered-up abuses in the children’s entertainment industry — under false pretenses.

The project, Nikolas and Lee Bolleau say, did some good and some harm: illuminating serious issues before succumbing to Hollywood’s worst impulses and becoming exploitative. Nikolas attributes that in part to the distinct “style” and approach historically taken by ID projects.

Alexa Nikolas in ‘Quiet on Set’

“I see people [online] asking, ‘How could you be a part of something that you didn’t know what it was?’ But when people have an agenda, they’re going to be very, very meticulous and strategic on how they get that agenda to where they want it to be,” Lee Bolleau said.

In an investigation from IndieWire corroborated by other “Quiet on Set” participants, the women describe a strategic “silo-ing” process they say they experienced before, during, and after production on the docuseries. Keeping interview subjects in the dark, Nikolas and Bolleau believe, created a “manufactured consent” that stopped them from understanding the full scope of the project — including its network affiliations. They say it further prevented them for preparing for the impact the mega-hit program would have on their lives.

Produced by Business Insider and Maxine Productions with Sony Pictures Television, “Quiet on Set” netted 1.25 billion viewing minutes the week of its premiere between March 18 and 25; it is now the most-watched title for Max ever reported by Nielsen. Episodes aired at primetime on Investigation Discovery before streaming next day on Max and Discovery+.

Bolleau says she filmed her portions for the then-untitled project sometime in March 2023; Nikolas says she taped on April 18, 2023. Both say they remember knowing the project was being made by Maxine Productions and was in some way associated with HBO at the time of filming. Max launched in May 2023 with the streaming service’s new name announced just days before Nikolas’ taping. She and Bolleau say they did not learn about ID being involved until much later in February and March 2024.

“I feel that the sensationalism was revved up because of it being on ID,” Nikolas said. “It would have been curated differently and would have been more impactful on [another network].”

“I’m upset about them keeping it secret from me,” Lee Bolleau said. “I feel like they did that because they knew if we were aware of the magnitude of how big this was going to be they would’ve had to treat us better.”

‘Quiet on Set’

As a result of the Warner Bros. Discovery merger from two years ago (coincidentally when Lee Bolleau and Nikolas say they first heard about the then-untitled “Quiet on Set” project), most Investigation Discovery titles stream on Max. There’s an argument to be made that these women should have understood the organizations’ association as public knowledge; for better or worse, Max and ID go hand-in-hand these days. But ID’s involvement in making and marketing parts of “Quiet on Set” seems to go beyond cross-pollination and these women say it impacted the end result of what was reported.

If you compare “Quiet on Set” Episodes 1 through 4 with its reunion-style Episode 5 hosted by frequent Warner Bros. Discovery collaborator Soledad O’Brien (who has worked with CNN and HBO before), there’s a significant enough dip in production quality to suggest multiple documentary teams at work.

“[Episode 5] does seem to be rushed and it does seem to skip the due diligence that they did in the first four to make others feel comfortable,” Leon Frierson, who also participated in “Quiet on Set,” told IndieWire.

US actress Raquel Lee Bolleau arrives for the Disney+ original series
Raquel Lee BolleaAFP via Getty Images

“I don’t personally hold anything against anyone at ID or Max right now, but I do hold something against Maxine, because they knew what they were doing,” Lee Bolleau said. She noted, “About it streaming on Max, it just feels like, ‘How can we make the most money and keep this story circulating?’”

Reacting to the controversial series’ firestorm popularity, Lee Bolleau described feeling like the pursuit of “success” encouraged Schwartz in particular to deceive her and other participants. Nikolas echoes those sentiments and says she was shocked and saddened when the Nielsen ratings came out.

“We have to live with our stories and how they were treated by ID and Maxine forever while they see it as leverage for future projects,” she said; Nikolas describes “Quiet on Set” as the producers’ “version” of her experience, “not mine.” The past-life kid star noted, “There’s nothing bingeable about trauma.”

IndieWire reached out to Warner Bros. Discovery, Emma Schwartz, and Mary Robertson but received no official response. 

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