Following her recent 20/20 interview, Scientology’s current public enemy number one, aka Leah Remini continued the publicity rounds for her new book, Troublemaker, with an appearance on The Howard Stern Show. Whatever her personal motivations may be, as we’ve seen with other big name defectors, speaking out publicly against Scientology isn’t what anyone would call easy. Her revelations about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes might come off as too personal, but as Remini has noted, Cruise is the face of Scientology, and clearly, she’s going straight for the head of the beast.
Some of the details about Cruise, his kids, and his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes are fairly innocuous; at a certain point (after donating one million dollars to Scientology), she was “allowed” to move about the normally locked down Celebrity Center despite Cruise’s magical presence, meet him, and then Remini was eventually allowed into his inner circle, unlike John Travolta and Kirstie Alley (Cruise purportedly doesn’t care for either actor). Even though Remini was invited to the Holmes/Cruise nuptials, the actress’ observations indicate her relationship with the couple was already derailing. Here are a few of the book’s bizarre reveals:
• After being invited to the wedding, Remini says she was asked to invite her close friend Jennifer Lopez (and spouse-at-the-time, Marc Anthony). Throughout the related festivities though, Scientology handlers tried to keep her away from Lopez, until Jennifer told them Remini was with her.
• During the wedding dinner, Remini heard Suri crying and went to investigate. The actress said Suri was in a bathroom on the floor, surrounded by Cruise’s sister, his assistant and a third woman, all of whom didn’t seem to know what to do for Suri. Remini found someone to warm a bottle for the (approximately 7-month old) baby, and one of the women finally gave it to the child, “dismissing” Remini.
• Katie Holmes (and other attendees) allegedly submitted a written “Knowledge Report” about Remini to Scientology authorities, saying she was “a poor example to others” and had been “very upsetting” at the wedding. As a result, Remini was required to be audited (“12 hours a day”) for weeks until she broke down and admitted to being the source of any problems at the wedding. Remini also claims she had to make conciliatory donations and gestures, including sending a gift basket and apology to J.J. Abrams who’d been upset by her behavior, and a lavish gift and written apology to Holmes; “I’m sorry that I destroyed your wedding.” As yet, those wedding offenses haven’t been described, but when Remini appeared on 20/20, Katie Holmes sent in a statement saying she regretted “having upset Leah in the past and wish her only the best in the future.”
• Tom Cruise apparently likes playing hide and seek when he has celebrity pals (Remini, Jada Pinkett Smith) over for parties, but he doesn’t like his tea served in a chipped cup. Cruise allegedly berated an assistant for doing so, saying he was being treated like a DB (Degraded Being). During another incident, the actor was said to have explained the difference between his (and David Miscavige’s) level, that of L. Ron Hubbards, and a lowly assistant by pointing over his head (LRH), at chin level (himself and Miscavige), and his waist (the assistant).
In her interview with Howard Stern, Remini came across as frank and understanding when it comes to why some of the famous Scientologists she knows have turned their backs on her, and she shed more light on the process — and expectations — of being a celebrity Scientologist. Remini acknowledges it isn’t only her honesty that’s caused problems in her world, but the way she expresses that honesty. Among the topics discussed were her dismissal from The Talk, which Remini said was a correct decision because she wasn’t one to toe the line. “Most smart people shut their mouths” (and do what they’re told).
Discussing coming up through the Scientology ranks, through Sea Org, and going through the process as she began to gain fame as an actress. Remini finally arrived in Los Angeles and got to the Celebrity Center, where “…you’re served lunch on a tray, they have great restaurants…
And then I realize, I’m not even in the right part of the Celebrity Center; there’s another part.”
Howard Stern: “King of Queens, you get into the Celebrity Center, I mean, THE Celebrity Center where Tom Cruise gets to go. That’s really the fucking place to be.”
Leah Remini: “You have to think, too, Tom Cruise as a celebrity, is a much bigger cele…like, I never compare myself to Tom Cruise; he’s a superstar. Can’t take that away. But as Scientologists, I felt we were on the same level, if not…I felt a little bit more superior in certain areas ‘cause I was higher…”
HS: “You were Thetan 3 and he was 7…”
LR: “Yeah, but he had to go back to 5, I was 5”
HS: “No shit…How many people get to level 5?”
LR: “OT. Say OT 5.”
HS: “OT 5. How many people get to OT 5, because you have to spend millions to get there, right?”
LR: “Thousands. Hundreds of thousands. I was training, I had to listen to all these new tapes before anybody…I’m a very by the book person. If I know there’s a new book, I need to read it…so to me, I was superior in that way, and that I knew policy, because I’m very like ‘per this…’ I’m very hardass.”
Stern was impressed that Remini didn’t become completely seduced by the celebrity aspect of Scientology; when she finally made it, and was hanging out with the leader of Scientology, she “could have just laid back, not asked about Miscavige’s wife; You could have just kept your mouth shut. You could have been best friends with Kirstie Alley and all these other people, and yet you kinda said, ‘Wait a second. I’m at the top. I’m at the highest level. And now I see the true hypocrisy.’ And I don’t think many people would have given up that acceptance, and that style of life. So, I do admire you. I really do.”
LR: “Thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate you saying that. It really has been…”
Interestingly, when Stern asked if John Travolta’s claim that he can heal people with his hands is Scientology related, Remini didn’t have much to say.
LR: “John is such a sweet man…he loves the technology of Scientology, he believes in it. He loves that.”
On not being upset that Kirstie Alley shunned her:
LR: “I wasn’t hurt, because I understood it. Because I know the policies, so I understand that hiding behind religious bigotry is the route to go. I understand the policy … I know why she thinks she angry … she won’t read the book. Nobody in Scientology will read the book, other than, there are people who make those genius statements.
They see me as an enemy. And, as I was questioning after the wedding, you know, going ‘Wait a minute. What’s going on?’ I’m reading a lot of things online…I’d go in and I’d say, ‘I read this Debbie Cook email,’ you know, she was the captain of one of the biggest churches in Florida for like 25, 30 years. She wrote this mass email to a bunch of Scientologists who were in, saying basically, the church is being run incorrectly, that the money they’re asking of parishioners every day is just crazy, it’s gotten out of control…so I said ‘What about Debbie Cook?’ right. ‘Oh, she’s a liar too. She’s a hateful bigot. And now, Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun, these are all big executives of the church, who were Sea Org members for 35 years.”
Remini said she believes Kirstie Alley is OT 7, which was the highest level at one time, “but now they’re creating new levels.”
Remini says what she finds difficult isn’t giving up the associated celebrity, rather when she’s in her favorite coffee shop and sees a (former) good friend with her goddaughter, turn her back to Remini.
LR: “I want to say, ‘Are you out of your frickin’ mind? I’ve been in your life over 20 years. What are you doing?’ That’s hard.”
As someone who’s never paid much attention to Remini’s career, the more I hear her speak, the less she comes off as someone just trying to sell a book and make money. Like many of her fellow high-profile ex-Scientologists, she seems genuinely concerned about what havoc is being wreaked by what most see as the “religion’s” unethical practices and treatment of people, and she’s adding to the voices of those who’ve come before her.