Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath


Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath Information

Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath is a documentary series aired by A&E in nine episodes commencing November 29, 2016. It is presented by the American actress, producer, author, and comedian Leah Remini. She was a follower of Scientology between 1979, when she joined at the age of nine alongside her parents, and 2013, when she left in acrimonious circumstances. She subsequently became an outspoken critic of the Church of Scientology and published a bestselling memoir, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology in 2015.

The series explores the experiences of Remini and other former members of the Church of Scientology. It received positive reviews from critics and achieved significant ratings success, recording A&E's best premiere ratings since 2014 and maintaining a consistently high viewership for subsequent episodes. The Church of Scientology was extremely critical of Remini and the show and established a website attacking both.

The series was renewed for a second season of ten hour-long episodes, projected to air in the summer of 2017.

Overview

Each of the episodes is 43 minutes long and follows Remini as she investigates what the promotional materials call "shocking stories of abuse, heartbreak and harassment experienced by those who have left the church and spoken publicly about their experiences". Former members of the church are interviewed by Remini and describe their experiences of Scientology and how they have continued to be affected by it even after leaving. She also speaks with a number of former high-ranking church officials who explain the background to the church's policies and organization, and how this relates to the experiences of ex-members.

In a statement issued by A&E, Remini explained the purpose of her series. She said that she hoped to "shed light on information that makes the world aware of what is really going on and encourages others to speak up so the abuses can be ended forever. I hope that people who have left now feel they have a safe place to go. I hope others who have also experienced abuses will come forward and help us to do something about it."

As part of the pre-broadcast publicity, Remini hosted an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit in which she explained her views on Scientology and discussed the show. It received nearly 20,000 comments and prompted two similarly-themed special episodes to be added to the show's schedule in December 2016 and January 2017.

Production

The series was developed by Remini following the 2015 publication of her memoir Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. After several former Scientologists contacted her in the wake of the book's release, she decided to shoot a teaser based on the story of one family and approached a number of producers to obtain backing for production. Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman of The Intellectual Property Corporation took on the project and facilitated talks with A&E. Explaining why he decided to produce the series, Holzman said: "We"?re not pro-Scientology or anti-Scientology. We"?re just documentarians who take the facts as they come to us and investigate every lead as best we can."

Scientology and the Aftermath was mostly filmed over the summer of 2016. Remini served as executive producer for her company, No Seriously Productions, with Holzman and Saidman co-producing. Alex Weresow was the series' showrunner and another executive producer.

An extra episode, titled "Ask Me Anything", was added to the series schedule after its broadcast run started and premiered on December 19. It was filmed over the course of the preceding week in reaction to the ratings success of the opening episode. A second "Ask Me Anything" special was broadcast on January 17, 2017.

Episodes

The first season comprises seven episodes broadcast on Tuesday nights, plus two episodes added to the schedules for the night of Monday, December 19, 2016 and Tuesday, January 17, 2017.

No. Title Original air date U.S. viewers
(million)
Viewers = 2.11 ShortSummary = Remini visits former Scientology executive Amy Scobee in Seattle and hears about how she was "disconnected" from her mother. LineColor = AC9369 }}

Viewers = 1.57 ShortSummary = Remini visits the spiritual headquarters of Scientology - Clearwater, Florida - to hear Mike Rinder's personal story. LineColor = AC9369 }}

Viewers = 1.46 ShortSummary = Remini describes the heavy financial and emotional price she and other current/former Scientologists have paid to move along "The Bridge to Total Freedom." LineColor = AC9369 }}

Viewers = 1.37 ShortSummary = Remini interviews Paulette Cooper, the target of Operation Freakout, and others while answering viewers' questions. LineColor = AC9369 }}

Viewers = 1.49 ShortSummary = Remini tells the story of how David Miscavige took over the Church of Scientology following the death of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and interviews his father Ron. LineColor = AC9369 }}

Viewers = 1.65 ShortSummary = Remini interviews Marc Headley about his time at Golden Era Productions, the Church's promotional organization, and his escape from its Gold Base compound. LineColor = AC9369 }}

Viewers = 1.51 ShortSummary = Remini interviews Aaron Smith-Levin, who was a prodigy at the Church's practice of auditing along with his twin brother Collin, and learns of the tragedy that befell Collin after he was dismissed from the program. LineColor = AC9369 }}

Viewers = 1.75 ShortSummary = Remini meets with a young man whom she allegedly provoked into committing a hate crime, according to the Church; interviews journalists who have been relentlessly hounded by the Church for reporting on it; and considers the possibility of legal action. LineColor = AC9369 }}

Viewers = 1.41 ShortSummary = Remini answers more questions from viewers and interviews cult expert Steven Hassan; Lawrence Wright, the author of Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief; and attorney Ray Jeffrey. LineColor = AC9369 }}

Reception

Reviews

The show attracted moderately positive reviews for its first episode, though some reviewers questioned its likely impact. The Hollywood Reporter described it as "interesting, but unlikely to generate a following", commenting that while it would "stir up some viewer emotions" its format was not very dynamic, with "a lot of sitting around talking, interspersed with footage from fairly innocuous Scientology promotional videos and event interviews." Newsday felt that in the light of previous Scientology exposs such as the book and film Going Clear and Remini's own earlier book, "almost nothing here feels fresh or unexpected." The Los Angeles Times called it "a compelling, if unsophisticated, investigation" of Scientology and described its focus on harmed families "an effective strategy that will likely resonate with many viewers."

CNN saw the show as "a step up in class for A&E" that delivers "a sobering warning to those who might be susceptible to the [Scientology] sales pitch". While acknowledging the repetitive nature of Remini "hearing the same story over and over again", The Huffington Post commented that "under normal circumstances, the same story over eight episodes would make for a tedious and boring show, but "Aftermath" is telling a horror story, and the repetition is powerful." Salon suggested that the show's best asset was "Remini's honest anger and frustration, both of which blaze across the screen in reaction to particularly damning revelations", but wondered who the show's audience was meant to be and questioned the extent of its appeal: "It is hard to fathom anyone other than the most hard-core obsessives sticking around to watch all eight installments of this limited series."

Scientology reaction

The Church of Scientology was strongly critical of the series. Prior to broadcast, it issued a 530-word statement attacking Remini. The church's statement alleged that she was spreading lies about the Church of Scientology along with claims that former Scientologists who participate in the show were kicked out. It established a website dedicated to attacking Remini, and its lawyers also sought to force A&E to abandon the planned broadcast of the show. In response, Remini demanded that the church pay her $1.5 million in damages for past and present reputational, emotional, and economic injuries.

At the start of each segment, statements appear on-screen describing the Church's dispute of the material presented and its refusal to participate in the series. Excerpts from letters written by the Church, attacking the credibility of Remini and her interview subjects, are also displayed and read in a move that Salon described as an attempt to "appease the notoriously litigious church".

The Church also created a website dedicated to discrediting the TV series and many of the people involved with it.

Ratings

The first episode of the show was a major ratings success for A&E, attracting 2.1 million viewers. This represented the network's best premiere since Big Smo in 2014, and substantially exceeded the 1.65 million who watched the premiere of HBO's Scientology documentary film Going Clear in March 2015. The ratings for the subsequent episodes were lower but held steady at between 1.4 and 1.6 million viewers. A&E reportedly intends to nominate the series for an Emmy Award in the Informational Series or Special category.

Renewal

Following the ratings success of the first season, a second season was announced by A&E in March 2017. It is slated to consist of ten hour-long episodes which will be broadcast over the summer of 2017. Executive production will again be handled by Remini and her company No Seriously Productions, with Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman of The Intellectual Property Corp also executive producing. Remini said in a statement: "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." According to Remini, since the first season aired numerous people have contacted her and Rinder to tell their own stories of abuse in Scientology.




This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Leah_Remini%3A_Scientology_and_the_Aftermath" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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