Leah Remini is speaking out against Scientology in the upcoming A&E documentary series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. The former King of Queens star aims to set the record straight regarding the controversial religion, but during her CBS sitcom heyday, Remini was a devout Scientologist who was pressured to use her influence to try to recruit her coworkers.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Leah talked about her 30 years as a Scientologist and revealed that the Church pressured her throughout her career, most notably when she was on the long-running comedy series The King of Queens opposite Kevin James.
“You have to go in [to the church] every single day, so yes. It’s always, ‘Why are you not getting Kevin James in? You’re not setting a good example. You’re not getting the director in,'” Remini told THR. “There was always pressure to make a Scientologist out of the people you were working with.”
Leah added that she never broached the subject of Scientology with Kevin James and that her longtime leading man was always very respectful of her beliefs.
“People would ask him, ‘Oh my God, is she trying to get you into that crazy cult?'” Remini revealed. “And he’d say, ‘No. She’s not like the rest of them.'”
James, a practicing Catholic, later supported Leah’s decision to leave her longtime church, telling In Touch Weekly, “If [leaving Scientology] makes her happy, I’m very excited about that.”
In the THR interview, Leah also dished that the Church of Scientology tried to get King Of Queens producers to take out a reference to Katie Holmes in one of the scripts. At the time, Holmes was married to Scientology bigwig Tom Cruise.
“It was just a reference to her name but this was when she was in good graces with the church,” Remini explained.
CBS did not succumb to the unusual request. The Katie Holmes reference remains in the show’s “Knee Jerk” episode, as can be seen below.
The King of Queens wasn’t the only show that Leah says her former church tried to influence. Remini said she was once forced to place a call to CBS boss Les Moonves to try to convince him to ax a 60 Minutes report on Scientology.
“I got a call from the church and Tom to call Les Moonves and use my influence to squash the story,” Leah said.
“So I called Les Moonves, even though I was really uncomfortable with it. And he said, ‘Listen — you’re not the only one who has called me about this and I have no right to interject my opinion of what I like or don’t like with the news organization of CBS and I will absolutely not engage this conversation. I’ll tell you or anyone else who calls me. I don’t give a s**t if it’s you, if it’s Tom Cruise, if it’s Jenna Elfman, you’re all going to get the same story from me.'”
Remini said her church cohorts were not happy that she was unable to squash the Scientology story on the TV news show.
Now, in the aftermath of her defection from the controversial organization, Leah’s onetime friends can no longer speak to her as per church policy. One of them is actress Kirstie Alley, who called Remini “a bigot” during an appearance on The Howard Stern Show. Before her falling out with Leah Remini, Alley guest starred on an episode of The King of Queens in 2006.
“They aren’t allowed to talk to me,” Leah explained. “That’s the policy of the church. I know Kirstie Alley made a comment about me and I’m sure others will.”
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath premieres November 29 on A&E.
[Featured Image by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]