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To counter Leah Remini’s return to A&E, Scientology recruits her father in smear attack

[George Remini, 69, and his wife Dana Connaughton, 36]

We’ve been documenting how the Church of Scientology’s personal attacks on actress Leah Remini have been rolled out since word was announced that A&E had approved a second season of Leah’s series, Scientology and the Aftermath.

For weeks, we’ve watched as Scientologists who knew Leah or were friends of her family dutifully sat for slickly filmed interviews, attacking Leah for being bossy or rude. Two things especially struck us about them: The complaints were so trivial they were comical, and as Scientologists, the subjects of the videos weren’t really in a position to refuse becoming part of the church’s smear campaign.

Then, yesterday, in the hours before A&E aired a two-hour special episode of Scientology and the Aftermath, we noticed that a new and very different kind of video had been added to Scientology’s attack website. It was highlighted in a way that made it obvious that Scientology’s operatives were very excited that they had landed such a big fish, and just in time.

The video features George Remini, 69, Leah’s estranged father, and his 36-year-old wife, Dana Connaughton (who suspiciously has a difficult time pronouncing the name “Remini” in the video), and it looks very different from the other vids posted on the website. The couple is sitting at their dining table, and George, who was never a Scientologist, rants about how his famous daughter had described him in her book, which came out a couple of years ago.

If you’re familiar with Leah’s book, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, you know she opens it up by “dead agenting” herself. She knows Scientology will likely come after her with “noisy investigations,” and so she admits right up front to her own transgressions and misdeeds.


She admits to having fought with nearly everyone she has known, being self-centered, and skipping funerals. (“I don’t deal well with death,” she writes.)

“The same goes for every single person in my family,” she adds. “My dad sold cocaine (and committed various other crimes), and then served time at Rikers Island.”

Leah doesn’t name her father at that point, but this is the line that has apparently set him off, a couple of years after she published it. And so he did a video for use by the Church of Scientology.

George’s former wife and Leah’s former stepmother, Donna Fiore, confirmed for us that it was, indeed, George Remini in the video. And she also confirmed what Leah wrote about him.

“That’s it. It’s true,” she says. She was married to George when he was arrested on a felony weapons charge and spent four months in jail. “It was the 90s, and everyone was doing something,” she adds.

Fiore told us that she was shocked to see George’s appearance in the new video. She hadn’t seen him in 14 years. “I spoke to him on the phone for the first time in four years last week. He was fuming over Leah’s book,” she says. “He looks like death.”

Fiore notes that the page containing the video also features an angry email she wrote to Leah, but it was something she wrote just ten days after the death of her daughter Stephanie, Leah’s half-sister. It was an emotional time, she points out. “We’re an Italian family, you know how it is,” she says. And she disagrees with George, who complains in the video that Leah didn’t offer to help with Stephanie’s medical bills — “Those bills were already taken care of by a prior source and had nothing to do with Leah. And she did pay for the memorial,” Donna says. Donna adds that she has no idea how Scientology has a copy of her email to Leah.

After we pointed out the video to Donna, she called the Church of Scientology to ask about her email being included on their website. “I said, ‘Are you looking to interview me, too?’ Oh, they were very excited,” she tells us. “They offered to send down a film crew from Washington DC or fly me there that night.” She tells us, however, that she was just winding them up and has no interest in being filmed.

The video lasts for 18 minutes, and George and his wife make the same accusations about Leah that she made of herself in her own book. Which, somehow, George only recently found out about.

Scientology leader David Miscavige is no doubt beside himself that his minions convinced Leah’s father to trash her on video. But the accusations against Leah amount to little more than what we’ve heard in the other videos. Leah was rude. Leah was full of herself. Leah didn’t go to a family funeral.

But Miscavige just can’t seem to comprehend that these attacks only confirm what Leah presented so effectively last night on A&E. Scientology ruthlessly goes after its enemies with the same tactics it’s used since the 1960s.

Someone will inevitably make the point that portraying Leah’s family this way, as a group estranged over perceived slights and angry accusations, somehow diminishes criticisms of Scientology’s “disconnection” policy.

It’s bunk. Families are what they are. They’re loving support systems and they can also be deep wells of sorrow and bitterness. Some of us are tight with our kin. Some of us would rather be solitary. But that’s the point — those are decisions we make ourselves.

Disconnection is about an organization requiring that a parent never see their child again, or siblings separate forever, and for reasons of political leverage and extortion.

Opening a window onto the Remini family’s private washing doesn’t change that in the slightest.


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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,766 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,523 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,869 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,363 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,403 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,115 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 641 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,730 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,870 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,190 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,165 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 521 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,823 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 930 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,332 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,205 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 786 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,291 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,535 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,644 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on May 30, 2017 at 07:00

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.

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


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