Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath premiered Tuesday night to the highest ratings for an A&E series debut in two years. The audience of 2.1 million viewers even outpaced the 1.65 million who tuned in last year for the debut of HBO’s 2015 Scientology documentary Going Clear.
How would Scientology respond? Leah says she learned the answer to that as she was doing press for her show in New York yesterday afternoon. “I was just about to go on the Dr. Oz show and they showed me the website,” she told us last night by telephone after she’d landed back in Los Angeles.
She was referring to the website titled “Leah Remini • Aftermath: After Money” that popped up some time yesterday morning. Its main copy is labeled “Statement of the Church of Scientology,” even if the rest of it doesn’t really resemble what the church’s official sites look like. But that connection is pretty obvious once you start reading.
Leah Remini’s “reality” show, like her last one, is nothing more than a scripted, rehearsed, acted and dramatized work of fiction. She and the other anti-Scientologists in her program have been expelled from the Church for unethical conduct.
We’d recognize that sneering tone anywhere.
When Leah Remini’s memoir Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology came out last year, the Church of Scientology’s response was surprisingly muted. The most the church could manage as return fire was to put out a one-page press release that also sneered at Leah like a schoolyard taunt…
“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.”
It was nothing like the extensive (and expensive) campaigns the church has waged against Going Clear director Alex Gibney, or against Ron Miscavige and his memoir Ruthless, which came out in May. Gibney’s film was met with full-page ads in New York and Los Angeles denouncing Going Clear as unfair and biased, and Gibney was personally attacked in slick videos made at Scientology’s sophisticated studios. Ron Miscavige, meanwhile, has been hit with months of sleazy attacks on a website that’s clearly the work of the church but contains no identifying information about its origins.
Until yesterday, Leah had escaped that kind of treatment, and it was a bit of a mystery why. But now, Remini has her very own personal attack site, which has been one of Scientology leader David Miscavige’s favorite forms of revenge going back several years.
The website’s main message is very similar to the language in letters that Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw was sending to A&E executives for the last few months. (We published one of Karin’s longer exhortations about Leah last week, and then we published the letters that Leah’s attorney sent the church, demanding a retraction and $1.5 million in damages.)
The website also features videos that seem very familiar. One of them is an updated attack on former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, calling him a “wife beater.” (Rinder has addressed those allegations at length at his own website.) And another video features Scientology executives taking shots at their former colleague, Amy Scobee, who was the focus of Tuesday night’s episode. Her former co-workers have so many mean things to say about her work performance, it makes you wonder why Miscavige kept promoting Amy for years until she was one of the highest ranking officials in the organization. What a puzzle.
The Rinder and Scobee videos are in the same mold as vids that took aim at Alex Gibney and Going Clear, and they use the same voiceover artist as narrator. She’s Jana Sheldon (who also spells her last name Shelden), and if you’re an Animal Planet fan, you might recognize her distinctive style.
Compare this short segment from one of the Gibney videos with this excerpt from the Animal Planet show Fatal Attractions.
We first learned about Jana’s involvement in Scientology’s smear videos last year and sent a message to church spokeswoman Karin Pouw with some questions about it. She never responded.
But it’s the website’s lead video that we were most interested in. Rather than produce a similar slick Jana Sheldon-narrated video attack on Leah Remini, the church instead has provided a short statement from two Scientologists, Todd and Cristin Woodruff.
In the video, Todd and Cristin talk about being tracked down by Leah with the use of private investigators, just like Leah accuses the church of doing. Here’s the full transcript of what they have to say…
Todd: I used to work for the church. I decided to raise a family. I’m still a church member. I don’t work for the church anymore. Leah Remini called me on the phone and I had not given my number to her or, hadn’t communicated with her for quite some months. And I asked her, how did you get this number? And she said that she had had me tracked down, had my residence tracked down and knew where I was living. And that she had my phone number tracked down. And, you know, we were dealing with a lot at the time and, you know, I had a new job and trying to get settled. And she kept insisting that the church was the one saying that I couldn’t be in touch with her, which was, couldn’t be further from the truth. No one from the church had ever told me not to talk to Leah Remini.
Cristin: We had an instance at my house where I was actually getting dressed in my bedroom and I looked out the window and there was someone taking pictures outside my house. And it really startled me. So I called my husband right away and I said, you know, there’s someone taking pictures outside of our house. You know, what do I do? Or what do you think, or whatever. And he said, you know, don’t worry about it. I’ll be home soon, we’ll figure it out, and then it wasn’t but a few weeks later that Leah called Todd and he said, oh how did you get my number, you know, and she said that she had her ways. And I don’t know if the two were connected but somehow, you know, she tracked us down. It just makes me feel uncomfortable, you know, because, you know, I don’t, we don’t live secret lives by any means, but we do like to live somewhat private lives, you know. And we’re really just trying to get on with things and raise our family and, you know, that’s all we’re trying to do.
Todd: You know, to now be treated this way and be tracked down by a private investigator, and have to drag my family into this. And…It’s just not right.
Now, if you’ve read Troublemaker, you know that Leah’s own Scientology auditor was a man named Todd, and that her celebrity “handler” was a man named Shane. In fact, Todd and Shane Woodruff are brothers, and for years they were a very important part of Leah’s life.
Both of them were Sea Org members who worked out of the president’s office of the Hollywood Celebrity Centre, and over the years, Leah included them in some of her family’s most important milestones.
Shane Woodruff, for example, can be seen here with Leah and her newborn daughter, Sofia, at a Celebrity Centre gala…
And here’s Todd Woodruff with Sofia at the wedding of Leah’s sister, Shannon…
Leah, Todd, and his wife Cristin, with three other friends, enjoy Sofia’s sixth birthday party…
And here are Todd and Shane at Leah’s 40th birthday party…
As Leah’s auditor, Todd had a very intimate role in her Scientology experience. But Leah wasn’t his only celebrity client.
Todd Woodruff was also the auditor for Katie Holmes.
Katie gamely tried to fit in as a Scientologist after she began dating Tom Cruise in 2005 and then they had their daughter Suri in April 2006. They were then married in a castle in Italy in November 2006, and if you’ve read Leah’s book you know what a critical role that event played in her life.
It was at the wedding that Leah noticed that Tom’s best man, Scientology leader David Miscavige, was canoodling with his personal assistant, and David’s wife Shelly was nowhere to be seen. When she asked about it, Leah was yelled at for daring to ask such a question. Leah later wrote up a report about Miscavige’s behavior at the wedding. Meanwhile, upset at Leah’s impertinence, Katie Holmes wrote up a report about Leah, as did several church officials.
Leah was then subjected to three months of brutal interrogations in Clearwater, Florida, and was billed $300,000 for it. And when she got home, both Todd and Shane Woodruff dealt with the wedding’s aftermath, attempting to “handle” Leah and her upsets.
“Todd’s job was to get me to forgive them for the treatment they had put me through,” Leah says. But over time, Leah began to convince church officials that she had been mistreated in Clearwater. Her $300,000 was even refunded. But it bothered her that the report Katie had written about her was still in her file, and she couldn’t get it removed. And when she would ask Todd about it, he continued to defend Katie for writing the thing.
And he also asked her to stop bringing up David Miscavige’s wife.
“He pulled me outside, where there were no cameras, and he said, ‘I need you to stop asking about Shelly. I don’t have the authority to ask about her, and I need you to stop doing that’.”
And then, six years after the wedding, Katie pulled off a stunning escape, filing for divorce while Tom Cruise was out of the country. Katie’s calculated move caused a firestorm of bad press for Cruise and Scientology, and when that happens, Scientology looks for someone to blame.
Todd Woodruff then faced a difficult question. As Katie’s auditor, someone who should have been questioning her regularly about her most intimate thoughts and secrets, how did he have no clue that she was about to pull off the greatest escape from Scientology in church history?
But Leah says she had her own question for him. The day Katie filed for divorce, she says she called Todd and asked him, “What do you have to say to me now?”
In Troublemaker, Todd answers: “I guess you can expect to have that report taken out of your folder.”
But Leah tells us he also described Katie with a choice anatomical term, and labeled her “1.1.”
In Scientology’s “tone scale of emotion,” someone who is “1.1” — or one-one — is considered “covertly hostile.” In other words, Woodruff was saying that Katie had completely hidden her plans from him because she’d managed to present a pleasant front to him that he couldn’t see through.
But Leah says that made her just as angry as Todd’s constant defense of Katie. “There he was, defending her for six years until she crossed Tom Cruise. And then suddenly she was a piece of shit to them. ‘You should have defended her to the end,’ I told him.”
And then, like Shelly Miscavige and many others, Todd Woodruff was suddenly made to disappear.
After having been a fixture at the Celebrity Centre and handling such important clients, he vanished.
“Todd got busted and kicked out of the Sea Org because of what Katie did. Because anything done to Tom Cruise is the highest crime against humanity,” Leah says. “And the fact that Todd missed that she was planning the great escape, that was the biggest overt [transgression] ever against humankind.”
Concerned about Todd’s disappearance, Leah started asking around about what had happened to him.
“The first thing they told me was that Cristin was pregnant. Oh, well, then let me call them and congratulate them, I said. But then the story changed. They were lying,” Leah says.
Eventually, Shane Woodruff told Leah that his brother had been “removed from the lines” because he had “messed up as an auditor and had committed crimes” against both Leah and Katie.
Leah protested, saying that she didn’t want Todd to be disciplined for something she had done (that she had dared to ask “Where’s Shelly?”).
When she asked Shane to put her in touch with his brother, he told her, “He doesn’t want to talk to you.”
Leah became determined to find out what had happened to her auditor, someone who had been such a big part of her life and practically a member of the family. And that’s why she tracked him down, finding that he’d been moved to Texas. But she says it was just a matter of doing an Internet search and finding a phone number for him. She denies that she hired a private investigator to track down the Woodruffs, and she has no idea who Cristin saw taking photographs of their house. Leah says that to this day, she has no idea where the Woodruffs live. She only ever had a phone number for them.
(We called that number ourselves and left a message last night for Todd. He hasn’t responded yet.)
When Leah reached Todd on the phone, she told him that she’d heard he’d been kicked out of the Sea Org because his auditing had harmed her, and if that was the case, she apologized. She told him that he was the best auditor she’d ever had.
“He broke down and told me, ‘I love you Leah, but you know I can’t talk to you about this’.”
And that was the last she heard from him. Until, that is, he showed up in the video yesterday, talking about her tracking him down.
“I’m only saddened because it’s the first time someone I loved in Scientology is saying something like this about me. I had defended him. But it’s right in line with the way they turn on someone so quickly,” she says. “I feel bad because Todd is such a sweet guy. He was such a dedicated Sea Org member, and to see him do this, and compromise his integrity, I feel heartbroken for him. He knows the truth.”
David Miscavige, a towering thetan of our time
While its new attack website popped up yesterday to go after Leah Remini and her show, at the same time Scientology’s propaganda rag, Freedom, really outdid itself with a “special expansion issue.” And the brain trust over there decided the best way to lavish praise on David Miscavige for being so ecclesiastical was to shoot him like he was a fashion icon in a men’s magazine.
Yeah, that’ll reverse the dwindling spiral.
Spaceman is blasting off, and his cat needs a home
Longtime commenter MaxSpaceman, who lives here in New York, has decided to change his orbit and fire his booster rockets for parts west. But there’s not enough room in his capsule for his rakish companion, Chico, and so we’re trying to get the word out that this handsome young guy — who obviously has great taste in reading material — needs a new permanent home.
Can you help us out? Please drop a line to the fine folks helping Spacemen find Chico new parents at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Shelton on ‘Scientology’
And here’s your proprietor, talking about Leah Remini’s show with KABC 790’s John and Jillian…
Go here to start making your plans.
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