We know that many of you have been anticipating this but no, Leah Remini will not appear on tonight’s Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO.
That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news: Leah tells us she’s been booked for Maher’s February 17 episode.
Since her nine-episode A&E series concluded three weeks ago, Leah has remained in the public eye after Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath ended up being a huge hit for the cable channel.
She’s appeared on Conan O’Brien’s talk show, and on Joe Rogan’s popular podcast, and Maher’s program should really be a treat: Maher has been poking Scientology in the eye for many years. (But knowing Maher, we have a feeling he might take Scientology’s side against Leah just for fun.)
Leah’s raised profile is bringing some interesting reactions. Last week, for example, singer Lance Bass made news when he said that he had spent a brief time in Scientology, and it was Leah’s fault!
Actually, Bass has been telling that story for some time. When Leah’s book came out in 2015, he spoke up and said that Leah had “sponsored” him for the Hollywood Celebrity Centre when she was still in the church. On an episode of the Meredith Vieira Show that November, Bass said he was never really a “member” of Scientology, but he did benefit from some of the “therapy” he said he received there during his short association with it.
He said essentially the same thing last week in a podcast with comedian Heather McDonald, but this time it caught fire on the Internet.
Bass said that he had visited the Celebrity Centre about five times over a month and paid a total of about $200. When he was getting pressured to take more expensive courses, he stopped going.
Leah says there was more to Lance’s experience with Scientology that has never come out. She says that what Lance wanted was marriage counseling to help him figure out a failing relationship, and Leah was concerned when she realized that’s not what he was getting at the Celebrity Centre.
“He called me for help, so I brought him in. He was asking for some kind of marriage counseling. But later I asked what we were doing for them, and I was told that they wouldn’t get that kind of counseling because they were gay,” Leah says. “I told them I didn’t understand why they weren’t giving Lance and his boyfriend what they were asking for. It didn’t look like we were trying to help them.”
Leah says a Celebrity Centre official told her, “Our experience is that people who come in who are gay are 1.1, and they end up blowing off anyway, so we don’t want to invest much time in them.”
That’s a reference to L. Ron Hubbard’s “emotional tone scale” that Scientologists believe maps out emotional states. Near the bottom of the scale is 1.1 for “covert hostility” — people who might present a pleasant front but are plotting to harm you when they can. Hubbard said that homosexuals were 1.1, and he called homosexuality a “perversion.” Ex-Scientologists say the organization took that to heart and the church is deeply homophobic. Anyone judged 1.1 would be required to do “auditing” to raise their “tone level” — in other words, Scientology holds itself out as a gay cure.
“I felt bad. Lance had come to me and Scientology couldn’t help him. I don’t think anyone in Scientology can deny that there aren’t many gay people in Scientology, as well as ethnic minorities. There’s really no diversity in Scientology,” Leah says. “They’re really not interested in the LGBT community because of what Hubbard said.”
Besides Scientology’s homophobia, Leah shined a bright light on the organization’s many controversies and alleged abuses during her series. And yesterday, one of its celebrities struck back at her.
Appearing on a Sirius FM radio show to promote his new Amazon Prime series, Sneaky Pete, Giovanni Ribisi was asked about Leah’s series and what he thought about it. Last year, we wrote that Vonnie is in a very precarious situation — his daughter, Lucia, has spoken out about leaving Scientology, while Giovanni’s parents are among the old guard’s most hardcore bitter-enders. On the radio yesterday, Ribisi seemed not to have actually seen Leah’s show…
Maybe Leah, who I’ve known since I was a teenager, had a problem with — I have a sneaking suspicion it was probably an issue with one or two people in the Church of Scientology. Or maybe it’s broader than that and then it just seems to have festered.
I do have to say, though, I can’t help but wonder, somebody who’s doing a series, a whole season, about that subject, that they’re not getting paid. And there’s a lot of money behind it. It’s turned into such a controversy to where you go out, you make a documentary about it. You know, the person who’s doing that is making money off it.
Again, it’s not even necessarily something that I would care to discuss because it’s something where if somebody has a question the only thing you can really say is yeah, it works for me and if you’re curious about it, go ahead, go pick up a book.
Those talking points are right out of the Scientology playbook. Rather than address the allegations in the series, Ribisi questioned Leah’s motives and gave the standard “pick up a book” that Scientology’s celebrities are trained to say.
“I feel bad for Vonnie,” Leah told us. “He’s only doing what we were all taught to do.”
Bonus items from our tipsters
Houston is the largest city in the western world without its own Scientology org. It only has a mission, but those folks are getting revved up for this week’s Super Bowl, and they’ve announced plans to hand out huge numbers of Scientology’s anti-drugs pamphlets, some of which will be handed out by Daniel Cortez, who is midway through his Purification Rundown.
Football fans can also expect to see Houston Scientologists offering them Scientology’s version of faith healing, which they call “touch assists” and “nerve assists”…
Pete Griffiths points out that another Scientology org in Russia was raided by police this week. This time it was in Yekaterinburg, the country’s fourth largest city.
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
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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.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
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