A lawyer acting for the former Scientologist alleged in a legal letter that the church wrote to cable channel The Arts & Entertainment Network (A&E) ahead of the debut of her new program to try and get the show pulled before it airs.
The actress was blacklisted after she left the church in 2013 (she joined as a child), and she claims the purpose of the series is to give a voice to others who’ve fled the religion and have allegedly been harassed because of it.
According to Underground Bunker blogger Tony Ortega, the church has sent a series of letters to the network, as well as ABC, in which the organization verbally attacks Remini calling her a “spoiled entitled diva” and “has-been actress.”
Karin Pouw, the Church’s international spokesperson, allegedly wrote in the letter, “A program about our religion hosted by Ms. Remini is doomed to be a cheap reality TV show by a has-been actress now a decade removed from the peak of her career.”
The letter posted to the blog also cites that Pouw penned, “Rather than letting go, Ms. Remini has doubled down on her obsessive hatred, turning into the obnoxious, spiteful ex-Scientologist she once vowed she would never become.”
A spokesman for the church publicly responded to Remini’s lawyer calling the demand for compensation, “nothing more than a provocative ploy to generate publicity for what will no doubt be another failed program by a failed ‘celebrity’ seeking to make a buck off of her former religion,” and added that “the Church will freely exercise its constitutional rights.”
The actress appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Wednesday to explain why it’s so hard for followers to leave the church.
“The Church does have all your secrets from when you were a child, but that isn’t the reason why people don’t leave the Church. People don’t leave the Church because they actually believe what they’re doing is good. It’s very hard for me to attack something that I believed in, and I believed in it wholeheartedly my whole life. It’s a difficult position to be in.”
Remini says what draws people to the religion is the idea they can better themselves.
“They claim that they have the technology to get you to the highest enlightenment of that spiritual side of you and to be the best part of you,” she says, adding, “what Scientology offers is a bigger game. You’re part of an elite group saving the planet.”
Despite how Scientology has negatively impacted her life, there are others she believes are even worse off.
“My story pales in comparison to what happened to other people, how people are bullied into silence,” she reveals. “We don’t have $3 billion to protect ourselves, right? So, what I have is I’m an actress, and I’m able to speak, and I’m able to give a voice to people who might not have an Ellen to go on.”
Remini is producing the new TV series, which comes a year after she penned an autobiography titled Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, an eight-episode docuseries about the religion and its effects on her life, premieres Nov. 29 at 10 p.m. ET on A&E.
Read the full letter here.
With files from Chris Jancelewicz & ET Canada