‘I Can’t Really Speak on Things That I’ve Never Witnessed’: Kenan Thompson Says That Problems at Nickelodeon Started After He Left

The ‘All That’ and ‘Kenan & Kel’ star says that he wasn’t around for any of Dan Schneider’s bad behavior
‘I Can’t Really Speak on Things That I’ve Never Witnessed’: Kenan Thompson Says That Problems at Nickelodeon Started After He Left

Stories of children’s entertainment magnate Dan Schneider misbehaving behind the scenes of many classic Nickelodeon shows are finally making headlines thanks to the bombshell documentary series Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV — but it’s news to Kenan Thompson.

Before he started a stint on Saturday Night Live that would make him the longest-tenured cast member in the history of the series, Thompson cut his TV teeth on kids’ comedy shows such as All That and Kenan & Kel, both produced by the domineering Nickelodeon don at the center of the current scandal. Despite his seemingly close proximity to the practices that have made Schneider a nationally known scumbag since the Max documentary first launched earlier this month, Thompson claims that, in his experience as one of the biggest young stars Nickelodeon ever produced, the ugly, unseemly and downright predatory behavior alleged of Schneider and his enablers never reached the sets on which Thompson worked.

On yesterday’s episode of the talk show Tamron Hall, Thompson discussed his experiences working under Schneider at Nickelodeon in the 1990s as well as the revelations that many of his co-stars and contemporaries have disclosed on Quiet on Set, saying, “It’s a tough subject because — it’s tough for me because I can’t really speak on things that I’ve never witnessed. … Because all these things happened after I left.”

“Dan (Schneider) wasn’t really on Kenan & Kel like that,” Thompson told his host, despite the fact that Schneider is credited as a co-creator, producer and executive producer on the four-season Nickelodeon sketch comedy show that ran from 1996 to 2000. “I mean, he got a ‘created by’ credit, but it was a different showrunner. So our worlds weren’t really overlapping outside of all that, necessarily,” Thompson clarified, saying of other Nickelodeon stars’ stories about working with Schneider, “All that negativity kind of started happening outside of our tenure there.”

However, Thompson didn’t directly address the claims made by many of his co-stars on All That, another kids’ sketch show on which Thompson performed from 1994 to 2000. Leon Frierson, Bryan Hearne, Katrina Johnson, Giovonnie Samuels and Kyle Sullivan all offered their stories of Schneider behaving inappropriately or abusively towards the show’s underaged cast to Quiet on Set, but Thompson said to Hall, “I wasn’t really aware of a lot of it, but my heart goes out to anybody that’s been victimized or their families, you know what I mean? I mean I think it’s a good thing that the doc is out and it’s putting things on display that need to be, you know, stories that need to be told for this, accountability sake.”

Thompson added, “It’s definitely tough to watch, because I have fond memories of that place and I have fond memories of my co-stars and stuff like that. So to hear that they’ve gone through terrible things like that, it’s just, it’s really tough.”

Thompson’s timeline doesn’t exactly match what his co-stars have claimed about their experiences at Nickelodeon, but, considering that the 45-year-old comedian started his career at the kids’ channel when he was just 16, he was hardly responsible for clocking and chronicling every inappropriate interaction between Schneider and the other children on those shows. The actual adults from those sets should have clearer memories of exactly what happened, and they should all be answering a great many questions right about now.


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