Leah Remini has landed a series at A&E. And unlike her past reality projects, this one is tackling her Church of Scientology past head on.
Though a network representative declined to comment, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Remini has been filming the series over the course of the summer with a launch anticipated in early 2017. Details on the series are slim — not exactly surprising considering its focus on the secretive and wildly controversial church — but it will detail Remini’s experience with Scientology and her 2013 departure as well as focus on the families of other church members.
The project is being produced by Remini and reality TV veteran/All3Media America alum Eli Holzman and partner Aaron Saidman under their young IPC (The Intellectual Property Corporation) shingle.
Buzz around the project started popping up several months back when noted Scientology chronicler Tony Ortega reported that Remini was prepping a series about the church’s effect on its members’ families. The subject of Scientology’s “disconnection” process, part of Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, came back into headlines earlier this year when a Los Angeles family paid for a Hollywood billboard with the words “Call Me” written on it in an effort to reconnect with their children who had joined the church.
This is not Remini’s first reality gig. She competed on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars and briefly had her own show on TLC — Leah Remini: It’s All Relative. Neither project dwelled on her past with Scientology, but the actress has not shied away from the topic. She has spoken about it in many interviews and wrote about it in the 2015 best-seller Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.
Scientology’s most recent comment on Remini came after a 2015 20/20 interview, when the church issued a lengthy response that included the following: “She needs to move on with her life instead of pathetically exploiting her former religion, her former friends and other celebrities for money and attention to appear relevant again.”
Never far from the small screen, Remini recently appeared as a panelist on ABC’s Match Game reboot and also on Tuesday brought news that she would star alongside Charlie Sheen in the Crackle flick Mad Families.
It’s a boon for A&E. The network (along with most cable outlets) has been on the search for a buzzy reality series since Duck Dynasty began its pop culture and ratings descent a few years back. A&E, home to Emmy-winning reality show Born This Way, is still very invested in unscripted programming, which occupies an overwhelming majority of its schedule even as scripted entries such as Bates Motel and Roots (on sister net History) have broken out.
Remini is repped by APA, which packaged the project, art2perform and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof Fishman. IPC is repped by WME.