Leah Remini is headed back to TV, but it’s unclear if she’ll be in front of the camera, behind it, or both. The former King of Queens star is producing a television series about Scientology and how the controversial religion “rips families apart,” according to Scientology news site the Underground Bunker. Tony Ortega, the writer who broke the story about Leah Remini’s new project, is an experienced writer on the subject and even appeared in Alex Gibney’s blockbuster Scientology expose, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which aired on HBO last year.
The Underground Bunker website did not reveal which network Remini’s show is planned for, but it did note that the same network is developing a second series about Scientology. Ortega added that the church has been giving the unnamed network pushback, but Remini’s series is currently shooting footage and appears to be “on a fast track.”
Leah Remini quit Scientology in 2013 after practicing the religion for more than 30 years. Remini received plenty of backlash after she split from the church, and last year, she detailed her ordeal in her bombshell bestselling memoir, Troublemaker. In her book, Leah revealed that ex-Scientologists are shunned and often lose their entire families when they walk away from the church. Remini was lucky that her mother, sister, and husband followed her out the door.
While stars like John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, and Tom Cruise are still devout members of the Church of Scientology, Remini has been one of the most vocal former members. Leah has openly questioned the leadership of the organization’s chairman, David Miscavige, and at one point issued a missing person report for the Scientologist’s rarely-seen wife, Shelley.
After Miscavige’s own father left the church, Leah Remini offered him support because she knew he had no one else. Leah Remini told ABC News that Ron Miscavige was all alone after penning Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige and Me, a tell-all about his son’s dealings with the church.
“I tracked him down. I called him and I offered my support because I know he must have felt alone,” Remini said of the elder Miscavige. “I just wanted him to know that we were willing to take them in. There is no place for them to go unless they have family outside of the church, which is very rare.”
Leah Remini was a young teen when she was introduced to Scientology by her mother, but three decades later, the actress broke away from the church after years of interrogations and “knowledge reports.”
In an interview with Buzzfeed, Remini revealed that she eventually decided that she didn’t want her daughter, Sofia, to grow up under the influence of the controversial church. After the family left the church, Remini had Sofia baptized as Catholic.
One person who probably won’t be happy with Leah Remini’s proposed TV series is Tom Cruise. In an interview last fall with ABC News, Remini revealed that Scientologists are not permitted to criticize Cruise and that he is bizarrely doted upon by Miscavige.
“Being critical of Tom Cruise is being critical of Scientology itself,” Remini said. “You are evil.”
While the church may be giving some behind-the-scenes pushback on Leah Remini’s upcoming show, don’t expect the organization to give the series any publicity. After Leah publicly split from the church in 2013, officials issued a statement that slammed her actions as nothing more than an attempt to get attention.
“It comes as no surprise that someone as self-absorbed as Leah Remini with an insatiable craving for attention would exploit her former faith as a publicity stunt,” the statement read.
Leah Remini has been vocal about some of the disappointments in her career, but Scientology is a topic she is very knowledgeable about. In the Buzzfeed interview, Leah said she was still “mourning the loss” of her long-running CBS sitcom, The King of Queens. Nearly a decade after her signature sitcom wrapped, Leah’s Scientology series could fill that void.
Take a look at the video below to see Leah Remini talking about Hollywood stars and Scientology.
[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]