Remini — the “King of Queens” TV star who broke from the religion about four years ago — said in a statement of her show being picked up, “It became clear to us that although we were telling painful stories of former members of the Church of Scientology, this show was resonating strongly with people everywhere.” She added, “The show is really about standing up for what is right and not letting bullies have their way. I feel it is important for people to know that you can take action to bring about change, both for yourself and for others.”
A&E’s prepping an Emmy campaign for the series’ first season, which has been pulling in solid ratings with an average of three million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
But a rep for Scientology responded on Wednesday by alleging Remini’s “teamed with A&E to shamelessly turn religious hate into a commodity by treating it as entertainment” and accused the network of “compensating Remini’s sources” for the show.
“Real transparency would be for A&E to detail all forms of compensation made to sources spreading religious hate and bigotry on Leah Remini’s show,” a Scientology rep said in a statement to Page Six. “When the network cancelled ‘Generation KKK,’ the network claimed that paying sources violated company policies. Yet at the same time it was hypocritically compensating Remini’s sources with money and significant in-kind payments. A&E can’t have it both [ways].”
Last year, A&E canceled a series on KKK members before it aired, saying it learned that producers paid some participants. TMZ reported in December that a lawyer for Scientology wrote A&E alleging a double standard by canceling “Generation KKK” while keeping Remini’s on the air.
But Variety reported an unnamed TV source saying of the situation, “We’re talking about payments made to hate group members versus payment to Leah, the [executive producer] of the show” and “It’s apples and oranges.”
The religion’s rep further alleged to Page Six, “A&E has a duty to conduct a thorough investigation into the extent to which Leah Remini’s show violates its own internal policies,” and, “The Church has repeatedly asked A&E to investigate the production of the Remini series and financial payments, especially in the wake of numerous violent threats generated against the Church, its leaders and parishioners coinciding with the airing of the series. Those hate crimes include death threats and acts of vandalism, many of which have been and are now the subject of law enforcement investigations.”
The church — which has created an entire Web site dedicated to Remini’s show, leahreminiaftermath.com — alleges that one person paid for the show is former member Mike Rinder.
An A&E rep declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the first season of Remini’s show has already sparked controversy. The LAPD is investigating actor Danny Masterson after three women — reportedly inspired by Remini — came forward with allegations of sexual abuse against the “The ’70s Show” star. Masterson has vigorously denied the allegations, and his rep turned the finger back on Remini for instigating them.