‘Quiet On Set’: Bill Maher Calls Nickelodeon ‘Neverland Ranch With Craft Services’ While Also Calling Out Disney | Video

In a “New Rules” segment on the comedian’s “Real Time,” he also expressed skepticism of how kids are exposed to nontraditional gender identities

On this week’s “Real Time” on HBO, Bill Maher addressed the recent “Quiet on Set” documentary, which explored exploitation of children in Nickelodeon programming. Maher then used that to launch into a wider discussion expressing skepticism of modern progressive gender politics, including how much kids are exposed to nontraditional gender identities.

In a featured “New Rule” segment titled “Kid ‘n Prey” (a nod to hip-hop duo Kid ‘N Play, known for the “House Party” movies), Maher opened up, “And finally, New Rule: as one of the few people in the public eye who’s gone through life and never had kids, someone has to tell me, why am I always having to defend them? I don’t even like kids. But I also think it’s every adult’s job to protect them.”

He asked the crowd if they’d been watching Max/Investigation Discovery documentary “Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV.”

“O-M-G,” Maher began. “Nickelodeon — it wasn’t a studio, it was Neverland Ranch with craft services.”

“It is just scene after scene, clip after clip of the child stars of their day being subjected to obviously inappropriate, highly sexualized degradation,” Maher continued, adding, “and quite a few pickles going through glory holes.”

Maher played clips of allegedly porn-inspired scenes involving Nickelodeon child stars such as Ariana Grande and Amanda Bynes, as well as the recurring “Pickle Boy” character played by dialogue coach Brian Peck, who was later convicted of sexually assaulting Drake Bell.

“I was grossed out, and I’ve gone camping with John Waters,” Maher added, referencing the infamous but acclaimed gross-out director. “I kid with John, I love you.”

While he didn’t know if the documentary was a big topic outside of Hollywood, he said that it exposed both “a dangerous workplace” and “hypocrisy.”

“Because it must be pointed out that when the evil governor of Florida was saying the exact same thing about kids and creepy stuff at Disney that liberals now find intolerable at Nickelodeon, he was dismissed as a hick and a bigot,” Maher added in a reference to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “But why would a kids content factory like Disney be all that different than the one at Nickelodeon?”

Maher went on to note that a 2014 report from CNN found that at least 35 employees of Disney had been arrested for child sex crimes. He also pointed to former Disney child star Alyson Stoner (“Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Camp Rock,” “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody”) having “narrowly survived the toddler to trainwreck pipeline.” Stoner wrote about their difficult experiences working for Disney in a 2021 op-ed for People. Maher added that Cole Sprouse (“Suite Life,” “Riverdale”) had told the New York Times in 2022 that the Disney Channel heavily sexualized female actresses from an early age.

“You know, Willie Sutton said he robbed banks because that’s where the money is,” Maher continued. “And the reason we find pedophiles in the Boy Scouts and the rectory and in kids TV, is that’s where the kids are.”

In a surprising case of Maher giving praise to Florida’s governor, he added, “DeSantis wasn’t wrong, but we’re so tribal now, the left will overlook child f–king if the guy from the wrong party calls it out. Sure Nickelodeon messed up Amanda Bynes, but the Mickey Mouse Club was where Britney Spears got her started.”

As he played a clip of Spears peforming her much-discussed “knife dance,” Maher wryly added, “She’s perfectly fine.”

Those who watched “Quiet on Set” already know this, but Maher then talked about the fact Peck was hired at Disney after serving 16 months in prison for what he did to Bell.

“Disney hired him, naturally, to work on a children’s series,” Maher said, before directly referencing a famed Disney attraction. “For pedophiles in Hollywood, it’s a small world after all.”

He also went after parents who try turning their daughters into social media stars, with those parents known as “sharenters” who post clips of their beauty queen kids in bikinis and eating bananas.

After explaining that the word was a hybrid of “share” and “parent,” he added, “I call them ‘pimps,’ a hybrid of ‘pimp’ and ‘ssss.’”

“People who believe in social justice have agreed this is wrong and this is bad, and exposing kids to an adult world of lurid costumes and garish makeup borders on abuse. Now hurry up and get in the car — we’re late for drag queen story hour,” Maher dryly added.

He took this pivot to complain about the much-hyped drag queen story hours, often held at libraries.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with being a drag queen, but maybe it’s time to admit that sometimes, drag queen story hour is more for the queen than the kids,” Maher said. “Sure kids love a clown, but does the clown have to have t–s?”

Maher also expressed frustration with a video of a child watching a drag queen in a bar.

“When I see a 5-year-old tipping at a bar under a sign that says it’s not going to lick itself, do I have to pretend that’s cool in order to keep my liberal ID card?” Maher, whose liberal credentials have often been questioned as he’s turned more conservative over the years, rhetorically asked. “Sorry, I can’t do that.”

The segment wasn’t all complaints — Maher also put forward some alternatives.

“If you want kids to be more tolerant, why not have handicapped people read them stories?” Maher asked. “Kids are more likely to encounter disabled people than drag queens in life.”

In another shot at Disney, he added, “Geez, can’t we just go back to the good old days, when kids were read simple stories with simple morals — like if you’re a lonely single man, just make a boy out of wood.”

He paired the quip with an illustration from Disney’s “Pinocchio.”

“I’ve said it before, wokeness is not an extension of liberalism anymore,” Maher argued. “It’s more often taking something so far that it becomes the opposite.”

While he said that he thinks it’s a good thing to teach kids not to hateful or judge people who are different from them, he added, “at a certain point, inclusion becomes promotion. And contrary to current progressive dogma, children aren’t miniature adults wise beyond their years — they’re morons.”

Maher asserted that kids are “gullible” and, because they’re seeking to please adults and don’t have a frame of reference for the world, “they normalize whatever’s happening.”

“That’s why endlessly talking about gender to 6-year-olds isn’t just inappropriate,” Maher said, “it’s what the law would call ‘entrapment,’ which means enticing people into doing something they wouldn’t ordinarily do.”

He discussed examples after 9/11 of federal agents presenting people with proposed terror plots.

Maher argued that entrapment is helping with kids when it comes to gender in schools, adding that if you don’t believe that’s happening, “you’re not watching enough TikTok videos.”

He then played clips of school-aged children expressing queer pride on social media.

“There’s a certain kind of activist these days who wants to take heterosexuality — old school, old-fashioned, boring, minding its own business heterosexuality, —and lump it in with patriarchy and sexism and racism, and tell kids, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you were anything but that,’” Maher asserted.

“It also seems to be the theme of kind of a lot of kids’ books these days,” Maher said, as he displayed a graphic showing numerous children’s books about queer topics. “I never used the phrase ‘gay agenda’ because I thought it was mostly nonsense. And it is. Mostly.”

He followed this by playing a clip of a Disney TV animation director where she talked about her “not at all secret gay agenda” and noting that she added queerness in Disney animated projects “wherever I could” before adding, “no one was trying to stop me.”

“Look, I’m all for adding queerness wherever,” Maher concluded. “I put some in my drink before I came out here tonight. But maybe we should think about giving kids a break from our culture wars for a minute — or at least until the election is over.”

You can watch the full “New Rules” segment in the video at the top of this story.


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