On Monday, we told you that Leah Remini had been stalked while filming her upcoming A&E series on Scientology, which premieres on November 29. She’d also shared with us that her production company had received a lot of aggressive letters from the church, just as other recent shows and documentaries about Scientology have experienced.
Then, Tuesday night, Leah’s team released the show’s first trailer, and the media response has been huge. “Leah Remini’s new series alleges sexual & physical abuse in Scientology,” read one headline. “Leah Remini reveals explosive abuse allegations against Scientology,” read another.
But Scientology isn’t taking things lying down. In a completely characteristic move, the church is paying for ads on Google that pop up when you search on Leah’s name…
Clicking on the link takes you to Scientology’s news website, where it has posted a statement about Remini. It’s not unusual for Scientology to throw shade like this at its former members. But taken as a whole, this is a pretty remarkable broadside, and we figured it could do with a little annotation.
Leah Remini has become what she once declared she never wanted to be known as: “this bitter ex-Scientologist.” As USA Today wrote, Ms. Remini is “as famous for being an ex-Scientologist as she is as an actress.” She needs to move on with her life instead of pathetically exploiting her former religion, her former friends and other celebrities for money and attention to appear relevant again.
Why this doesn’t work: The reaction to the trailer shows that the public loves the idea of Leah exposing her former “religion” for the extortionist and abusive high-control group that it really is. And we doubt that many members of the public will care much if she manages to make a few bucks doing it.
Sadly, bitterness and anger are common threads through Ms. Remini’s life. Ms. Remini is showing herself to be a spoiled entitled diva who still obsessively complains about such petty matters as her seating placement, limo ride, five-star hotel accommodations and the paparazzi’s failure to recognize her nearly a decade ago. She also inserts herself uninvited into the family matters of others. Rather than take responsibility for self-inflicted problems, she is quick to blame others. When her firing from The Talk erupted into a public embarrassment for her in 2012, we tried to help pick her up off the floor. But she treated everyone around her in a degrading, bullying manner. Her behavior was intolerable.
Why this doesn’t work: Hey, Scientology, you’re the ones building “celebrity centers” so you can attract entitled narcissists who make their livings by putting on spectacles for the camera, and then you tell them the key to their success is to remember how they were traumatized on other planets billions of years ago. And now you say Leah’s behavior was intolerable? Come on.
Leah Remini knows the truth she conveniently rewrites in her revisionist history. The real story is that she desperately tried to remain a Scientologist in 2013, knowing full well she was on the verge of being expelled for refusing to abide by the high level of ethics and decency Scientologists are expected to maintain. Her repeated ethical lapses and callous treatment of others led to an ecclesiastical review which resulted in her being expelled. She now regurgitates the tired myths the Church has repeatedly debunked, circulated by the same tiny clique of expelled former staffers bitter at having lost the positions they enjoyed before their malfeasance and unethical conduct were uncovered. Ms. Remini is now joined at the hip with this collection of deadbeats, admitted liars, self-admitted perjurers, wife beaters and worse.
Why this doesn’t work: One of the things that made Leah’s book so fun to read were the gritty details she provided. Her disaffection began, for example, at the 2006 wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, when Leah dared to ask why Tom’s best man, Scientology leader David Miscavige, hadn’t brought his wife Shelly. (She hasn’t been seen at a Scientology event in more than 11 years now, and we know where Miscavige banished her.) There were plenty of other specific, juicy details from that event that spice up Leah’s book, and make the scene come alive. Scientology, you just can’t compete with a lot of vague accusations about “an ecclesiastical review” or “ethical lapses” that all sounds completely bogus as well as being completely unconvincing.
Ms. Remini also continues her obnoxious efforts to harass the leader of the Church of Scientology and his wife, with whom Ms. Remini has been obsessed and has stalked for years. This culminated in a scandalous report filed in 2013 with the Los Angeles Police Department that her book shows was a fraud from the outset. It was solely intended to get publicity and harass the leader of the religion and his wife, who had refused contact with Ms. Remini because of her disgraceful behavior that was both abusive and unethical. Ms. Remini also outrageously touts that the LAPD failed to do its job when it investigated her phony report and within hours unambiguously declared it “unfounded,” causing her stunt to blow up in her face. Anyone knowingly making a false report to law enforcement is a bald-faced liar who should be held accountable for diverting police from protecting the public.
Why this doesn’t work: If you aren’t going to produce Shelly, it simply doesn’t work to bellyache that someone, namely Leah, tried to find out where you’re keeping her. And also, you are wrong on the facts. It’s true that on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 7 in the morning we broke the news that Leah had filed a missing-person report about Shelly Miscavige with the LAPD. And it’s also true that later that same day, news organizations reported that the LAPD had closed the case as unfounded. That produced the erroneous notion that Leah’s report had been closed the same day she filed it, and that it was somehow frivolous. In fact, although we first broke the news of the missing-person report Thursday morning, Leah had actually filed it with the LAPD that Monday. We only found out about it Wednesday night, and that’s why we reported it Thursday morning. And in those several days, the LAPD had time to meet with Shelly and confirm that she was alive and not missing. For the past eleven years, except for a few days when she was let out to attend her father’s funeral in the summer of 2007, Shelly has been living and working at Scientology’s super secret “CST” compound near Lake Arrowhead, California. We talked to Lt. Andre Dawson of the LAPD, whose detectives had met with Shelly. He wouldn’t confirm where that meeting took place, and when we asked him if his detectives had spoken to Shelly in the presence of other church officials, he said, “That’s classified.” Since then, Dawson has become a regular figure at Scientology events. But here’s the most important thing. You can complain that Leah filed that report, Scientology, but in the three years since then, you still haven’t produced Shelly. And the longer that goes on, the better Leah’s attempt to find her looks.
Scientology is the only major religion to be founded in the 20th century and emerge as a major religion in the 21st century. The Church has grown more in the past decade than in its first 50 years combined under the ecclesiastical leadership of Mr. Miscavige, a visionary parishioners and Church staff hold in the highest regard for carrying out the legacy of the Scientology Founder through the renaissance the religion is now experiencing. Mr. Miscavige works tirelessly for the parishioners and their benefit and to aid millions through support and participation in global humanitarian initiatives and social betterment programs. The real story of the Church of Scientology, what it does, its beliefs and practices, is available at www.scientology.org.
Why this doesn’t work: Oh please. Nobody’s buying that.
Meanwhile, besides this written attack on Leah, the church has also uploaded 20 videos of Leah from their archives. These are short clips of Leah being interviewed at Scientology events, usually the annual Celebrity Centre gala which is held every August in Hollywood. Here’s an adorable Leah Remini in 1997, for example…
And her quote? “I love being involved with it, because then I, you know, I feel like I’m a good person.”
Here’s how she looked in 2001…
What did they catch her saying this time? “I think it’s important for an artist to have some outlet other than your mom who is like ‘Ah, just shut up and go on another audition.’ You know, you need some other help and it’s offered me that help.”
All these quotes are doing is emphasizing what a gem Scientology drove away.
And here she is in 2006…
What do they have on her this time? “Because I am Scientologist I know what we do for the community, but when we have political leaders coming and mayors of other cities coming and um… People in law enforcement coming and praising what we do and how we are helping the community, it just, it warms my heart to hear these stories and I hope other people share in that. I wish this would air everywhere you know? I wish this would air on network television.”
Well, seven years later, Leah gets her wish. Network television — namely the A&E network — will be showing what’s really going on in Scientology.
We think you’re going to find it illuminating.
Chris Shelton on ‘Scientology’
Says Chris: “This week, it’s religious apologist Frank K. Flinn who tries in the worst possible way to make Scientology look like a modern form of Buddhism, with technology. His arguments are flawed from the very beginning and I had a good time taking this one apart.”
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield