Redstate readers by now know I’m a huge fan of Leah Remini’s Scientology-busting docuseries “Scientology and the Aftermath” on A&E. The eight-part reality show aired to moderate but enthusiastic fanfare but what was truly impressive is that it steadily gained viewers and media buzz every episode until it’s finale.
There was nothing moderate about it; the show was a bonafide smash hit for Remini and A&E.
The project has been such a hit that A&E has chosen to renew the expose for a summer run. Remini says that the Church of Scientology’s continued deceptions and secrecy have inspired her to keep pushing to expose the cult for their horrid practices and treatment of their members. She told The Hollywood Reporter she won’t stop until they accept full responsibility for who and what they are.
“The way the organization has responded without taking responsibility for what they do to people, I need to continue,” Remini tells THR. “It would be another [scenario] if they stopped trying to discredit everyone’s stories and said, ‘If you don’t like it, don’t be part of Scientology.’ “
Remini’s investigative partner Mike Rinder (a former top executive in the COS) may also be returning. Rinder has reportedly received hundreds of emails and communications a day from Scientologists and former Scientologists thanking him and Remini for their show and seeking more help to untangle themselves from the cult built on the lies of a science-fiction writer.
Of course the COS has pushed back with lengthy statements of repudiation, none of which are taken seriously by anyone not already trapped inside the church. In any case, Remini won’t be hurting for subjects to fill out her 10-episode second season.
There should be no shortage of new material: Remini says people started lining up to participate as soon as the first season premiered — thanks, in particular, to involvement from former Scientology official Mike Rinder. He departed the church in 2007, appeared in all of season one’s episodes and is credited as a consultant on the show. Remini says Rinder now gets hundreds of emails a day from other defectors.
That’s not to say it has been easy on everyone involved. While A+E Networks topper Nancy Dubuc said in January that she had been trolled on Facebook over the show, suggesting the church had paid for negative comments, Remini, 46, insists her reception on social media has been overwhelmingly positive.In a lengthy statement to THR, the Church of Scientology claims Remini’s show has been tainted by payments made to people appearing onscreen, comparing it to another A&E docuseries, Generation KKK, which was scrapped earlier this year after the network admitted producers paid some participants. “Real transparency would be for A&E to detail all forms of compensation made to sources spreading religious hate and bigotry on Leah Remini’s show,” the Church says.
And, even if it were more difficult, Remini gives the distinct impression that it would not slow her down. “I have a stage for people to listen,” she says, adding that she believes Scientology’s power has been weakened by Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear and mounting documentation of misconduct. “Until the day I no longer have this platform, I won’t be silent.”
As a fan and an 0p-ed journalist I find the news of a second season thrilling and look forward to seeing more of the emotional, eye-opening stories that made the first season so completely compelling.
Rumors are swirling that A&E is looking to make a run at some Emmy Awards with this next season. If Season 2 is anywhere near as fascinating as Season 1 they probably have a very good chance.