The gutsy and outspoken Remini, 45, decided to pen an in-your-face bombshell exposé about her 30 years in Scientology shortly after she left the church in 2013, but the project was shrouded in secrecy until Ballantine officially announced it just weeks ago. And no wonder: Troublemaker is the most raw and revealing Scientology memoir to date.
The church has responded by blasting many of Remini’s claims on its website and by releasing a sternly worded statement, which says, in part, “It comes as no surprise that someone as self-absorbed as Leah Remini with an insatiable craving for attention would exploit her former faith as a publicity stunt.” But the King of Queens star remains serene and resolute, telling People in a cover story on stands this week, “I’m so blessed to be removed from it. I’ve been given a second chance at life, and so has my family.”
Here are five of the book’s most shocking revelations — and for even more, pick up the issue of EW on stands Nov. 6.
On one of her trips to Flag* for spiritual counseling, Remini admitted that years earlier, she had stolen food from the Scientology headquarters restaurant when she was hungry.
“My auditor asked me how much I thought I owed to make up the damage for the food I stole twenty years earlier.
‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘How much was custard and hamburgers for three months in the eighties?’
‘Well, let’s just round it up to forty thousand dollars. Okay?'”
Remini was dumbfounded — but paid. Later she calculated that over the years she spent $2 million on Scientology training and services and donated $3 million outright.
After she made a $1 million donation to the church, Remini was ushered into Tom Cruise’s inner circle (which did not include John Travolta and Kirstie Alley, whom Tom “didn’t like,” according to the actress). One evening, when she was at Cruise’s house with Jada Pinkett Smith, the actor announced he wanted to play hide-and-seek.
“At first I thought he was joking,” Remini writes, “But no, he literally wanted to play hide-and-seek with a bunch of grown-ups in what was probably close to a 7,000-square-foot house on almost three full acres of secluded land.” She told him she was wearing heels and couldn’t play.
“’Well, good,'” Tom apparently said with his signature grin. “So you’re It, then.’ And with that he tagged me and ran to hide.”
At the Italian wedding of Cruise and Katie Holmes, Remini reported some of the shocking goings-on she witnessed to the church. But Scientology officials accused her of being the badly behaved one. As punishment she was called to Flag for four months, where she was forced to recant, spent $300,000 to get “reprogrammed,” and had to send Holmes a note that said, “I’m so sorry I destroyed your wedding.” Remini writes that Holmes responded with a text: “Just handle it with your MAA*.” (Later, when Cruise and Holmes divorced, Remini asked for — and eventually received — a refund of her $300,000.)
After Cruise’s longtime assistant resigned, Remini says that “someone decided that she had done something wrong, and she had to undergo a sec-check* that she says cost her so much that she lost her house. Instead of viewing this…. as cruel injustice, she felt a huge sense of accomplishment when she finished her sec-check. She took pride in the fact that she left Tom in good standing with the church.”
While discussing Shelly Miscavige, the wife of Scientology honcho David Miscavige who hasn’t been seen in public since 2007, Remini claims that the church “is known not only to pay big money to off-duty LAPD officers who work as security at the Celebrity Centre” but to also make charity donations in their names. “So you never quite know who is in tight with the church.”
Flag — Scientology’s headquarters in Clearwater, Florida)
sec-check — “a hardcore form of interrogation… in which an auditor asks a long list of questions to make sure a person hasn’t engaged in any hostile activities or thoughts toward the church.”
MAA — Master-at-Arms, “the church official you are sent to when you are in trouble”
A longer version of this article appears in the Nov. 13 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Pick it up on stands Nov. 6, or subscribe online at ew.com/allaccess.