Why Is Alexa Nikolas Missing From the Reunion Movie?

Movies


The Big Picture

  • Paramount+’s Zoey 102 premiered in July 2023, and features most of the original Zoey 101 cast, with Alexa Nikolas’s character, Nicole Bristow, notably missing.
  • Alexa Nikolas has been vocal about her negative experience on the Zoey 101 set, claiming she was bullied by her castmates and felt unsafe around series creator Dan Schneider.
  • Nikolas has called out Nickelodeon for enabling abuse and has criticized Schneider for his inappropriate behavior towards underage performers.


Capitalizing on the success of its iCarly reboot and the larger trend of reviving beloved sitcoms of years past, in mid-2023, Paramount+ dropped the trailer for the Zoey 101 sequel film Zoey 102, exciting fans of the Nickelodeon show with the promise of a PCA reunion. Though the film saw the return of most of the original cast, including Jamie Lynn Spears as the titular character Zoey Brooks, the most notable exception was Alexa Nikolas, who played Nicole Bristow for the first two seasons of Zoey 101. The former star of the hit series hasn’t been afraid to vocally oppose the reboot following claims she was bullied on set by her fellow cast members and felt unsafe around series creator and executive producer Dan Schneider.

Zoey 102

Zoey 102 follows Zoey Brooks and the Pacific Coast Academy alumni as they catch up for Logan and Quinn’s wedding, attempting to navigate messy romances when the estranged Zoey and Chase both find themselves in the wedding party.  

Release Date
July 27, 2023

Director
Nancy Hower

Cast
Thomas Lennon , Erin Sanders , Jamie Lynn Spears , Matthew Underwood

Rating
TV-14

Runtime
101 minutes

Genres
Comedy , Drama , Family


What Happened to Alexa Nikolas on the Set of ‘Zoey 101’?

In 2022, Nikolas shared the story of her distressing experience on Zoey 101 on Real Pod with Victoria Garrick, and fellow former child star Christy Carlson Romano‘s podcast Vulnerable. Nikolas states that she was bullied by her cast mates, with Jamie Lynn Spears allegedly acting as the ringleader, joined by Kristin Herrera and Victoria Justice, who played characters Dana Cruz and Lola Martinez, respectively. Though Justice and Nikolas were friends at first, after a small spat, Justice joined Spears in ostracizing Nikolas, leaving her feeling socially excluded and miserable on set. This was exacerbated by the lack of intervention from producers, including Schneider, who blamed Nikolas for causing problems and told her repeatedly, “It’s Zoey 101, not Nicole 101.”

In one particularly traumatic anecdote which Nikolas has recounted several times, she states that Spears’ older sister, pop superstar Britney Spears, confronted Nikolas in Jamie’s trailer, screaming at her that she would never work in the industry again. Jamie had convinced Britney that it was actually Nikolas who was bullying her and causing problems on set, a claim she still maintains years later in her book Things I Should Have Said released in 2022. Nikolas, who was just a young teenager at the time, left the trailer sobbing. She was traumatized from the encounter, which came out of nowhere after a member of production lied to her and her mother, saying he was taking her to the hair and makeup trailer and instead leaving her alone with the Spears sisters. Britney has since apologized to Nikolas publicly, saying she “had no idea what was really going on,” but Nikolas has yet to receive a sincere apology from Jamie.

Alexa Nikolas and Other Nickelodeon Stars Allege That Dan Schneider Behaved Inappropriately on Set

In 2022, Nikolas started Eat Predators, an organization that aims to expose predators in the entertainment industry. It focuses on holding abusers accountable in the music industry in particular, but Nikolas has also held protests with her organization outside Nickelodeon’s headquarters, calling them out for enabling abuse and not protecting their performers. She is also one of a few former Nickelodeon stars to call out Schneider for his inappropriate behavior, stating in a 2022 interview with Rolling Stone, “I didn’t feel protected at Nickelodeon as a child. I didn’t feel safe around Dan Schneider; every time he came on set my body got extremely tense. Later on in Season 2, [he] and a bunch of executives made me cry in a room alone.” In Real Pod with Victoria Garrick, Nikolas also revealed that Schneider would be in the room for all of her wardrobe fittings, regularly pushing for skimpier clothing options and even taking Polaroids of her in different outfits.

Related

‘Zoey 101’ Ending Explained: Where Did We Leave Off With the PCA Crew?

Are you ready?

Schneider is the creator of not only Zoey 101 but most of Nickelodeon’s beloved sitcoms like The Amanda Show, Drake and Josh, iCarly, and Victorious. As these shows have been made available on a variety of streaming services over the past few years, retrospective viewings by its now-adult fans have brought to light just how inappropriate certain aspects were for children’s programs often starring underage performers. Actresses in Zoey 101 and Victorious can often be seen wearing short or tight-fitting clothing, and some, including Ariana Grande most egregiously, were put in situations intended to be comical but, in hindsight, easily come across as sexual and even pornographic. Schneider’s shows have a particular fixation with feet, and a tweet that is still up on the official Sam and Cat Twitter account asks fans — most of which, it’s safe to assume, are children — to post pictures of their feet with #SAMandCATSaturday written on them. Victorious star Daniella Monet even called out one troubling situation during her time on the show, when she was concerned a scene where her character eats a pickle while putting on lip gloss was too sexual, but her concerns were ignored by Nickelodeon and the scene was aired anyway.

‘iCarly’ Star Jennette McCurdy Also Had Problems With ‘Zoey 101’ Creator Dan Schneider

Jennette McCurdy and Miranda Cosgrove as Sam Puckett and Carly Shay looking stressed on iCarly
Image via Nickelodeon

Jennette McCurdy, of iCarly and Sam and Cat fame, also had some unsavory things to say about Schneider, whom she simply refers to as The Creator, in her best-selling 2022 memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died. She describes his quick temper and recounts times when he gave her a massage, photographed her in a bikini, and even pressured her to drink alcohol when she was underage. McCurdy also refused to accept a $300,000 offer that would require her to never speak about her experience with Nickelodeon and Schneider’s abuse. Nikolas revealed in Real Pod with Victoria Garrick that she was also contacted by Schneider’s lawyer years after her time on Zoey 101 with a similar offer that she promptly turned down.

Nostalgia is powerful and profitable in the entertainment industry, with shows like Raven’s Home, Girl Meets World, and Fuller House paving the way and proving there is an audience for reboots of childhood classics. Considering the success of Paramount+’s three-season iCarly reboot, it was safe to assume that Zoey 102 would draw a sizable audience, and the powers that be seized the opportunity. However, with stars like Nikolas and McCurdy refusing to stay silent about their traumatizing experiences at Nickelodeon under Schneider, it won’t be surprising if we see more former child stars coming forward with their own stories in the future.

Zoey 102 is available to stream on Paramount+

WATCH ON PARAMOUNT+





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