Photo-Illustration: L. Cohen/Getty Images
Leah Remini, the queen of Queens, has written a barn-burner. Her book Troublemaker, which came out Tuesday, is a tell-all from inside the Church of Scientology, an experience that cost her millions of dollars and years of anguish, and eventually resulted in her getting labeled an “SP” — a Suppressive Person — by the Church. As with Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear, you cannot talk about Scientology without talking about its most famous member, Tom Cruise. Remini’s book covers a lot of ground about the actor, from the first time she met him and was invited to play hide-and-seek at his house with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, to his high-profile wedding to Katie Holmes in Rome, where she was reprimanded and had to be “reprogrammed.”
Her first interaction with Tom Cruise was “magical.”
Tom Cruise is kind of a big deal in the world, and he’s an even bigger deal in the Church of Scientology. Whenever Cruise entered the Celebrity Centre, the entire building was locked down. Normally, Remini had to wait in the courtyard or waiting room until he was done, but on one particular day, she was told by a handler, “I just want you to know that Mr. Cruise is here, but it’s fine for you to walk through.” They eventually met, and she said that they had a “brief but pleasant conversation,” and that he had a “magical quality” that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the world. This apparently was enough to approve her to become a part of Tom’s entourage, which included EarthLink founder Sky Dayton, Marisol Nichols, Ethan Suplee, and Jenna and Bodhi Elfman. She writes, “Noticeably absent from the chosen few were Kirstie Alley and John Travolta. I had heard that Tom didn’t like them.”
She was invited to play hide-and-seek at his house with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
“At first I thought he was joking, 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 writes. She told him, sensibly, “I can’t play — I’m wearing Jimmy Choos.” He replied, “Well, good. So you’re It, then,” and then tagged her and ran to hide. She pulled her husband aside and said, “Angelo, you’re going to go ahead and do this, because I’m not doing it. I’m not trying to play a fucking game of hide-and-seek in five-inch stilettos. Okay?”
There was an incident with cookie dough.
Remini writes that people were “terrified of offending Tom.” Once, he wanted to make cookies, and there was a package of prepackaged cookie dough on the counter. He asked, “Guys, where’s the cookie stuff?” The assistants fluttered around but they didn’t point out to him that it was right there on the counter. “Tom seemed like a child who had never been told no,” Remini observes. “Get in the fucking present time, is what you need to do!” he screamed at his assistant. He then gave a rundown of the hierarchy:
Still not noticing the log of pre-made dough on the counter, Tom raised his hand above his head. “LRH [L. Ron Hubbard] is here,” he said, then lowered his hand to his chin and said, “And Dave and I are here.” Then, with his hand down at his waist, he said, “And you are here.”
This painful scene mercifully ended when Remini nonchalantly said, “Oh wait. Tom, is this it?”
Tom and Katie invited her to their wedding and then asked her to invite Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.
After inviting Leah and her husband to his impending nuptials with Katie Holmes, he then asked her to invite her friends Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. Little did she realize that it would really become all about J.Lo and Marc.
Their Rome wedding was “official church business.”
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’s wedding was constantly being monitored by two Scientology members, Tommy Davis and Jessica Feshbach. The leader of the Scientologists, David Miscavige, acted like Cruise’s best man. And yet, Remini was seeing a lot of behavior that didn’t accord to Scientology rules. Norman Starkey, who officiated, got “handsy” with Brooke Shields, while Jessica and Tommy were flirting, even though she was married.
Someone left Suri Cruise crying on the bathroom floor during the wedding.
During the first dinner, she heard Suri Cruise crying from the direction of the bathroom, and yet, “Katie didn’t seem to notice.” She then went to the bathroom to investigate the situation:
After about five minutes I headed to the bathroom to offer some help. When I opened the door, I found three women, including Tom’s sister and his assistant, standing over the baby, who was lying on the tile floor. I didn’t know if they were changing her diaper or what, but the three women were looking at her like they thought she was L. Ron Hubbard incarnate. Rather than talking to her in a soothing voice, they kept saying, “Suri! Suri!” in a tone that sounded like they were telling an adult to get her shit together.
She told them, “What are you guys doing? She’s a baby. Pick her up!” She then took control of the situation and got Suri’s bottle and asked someone to heat it up in the kitchen. When she returned, though, Suri was still on the floor crying. Finally, they picked her up and gave her the bottle, which stopped the crying. “Then Tom’s sister turned to me and said, ‘Thank you,’ as if I were being dismissed.”
She was put on notice during the wedding for hanging out with Jennifer Lopez.
Throughout the wedding, the Scientology handlers kept trying to separate Lopez from Remini, who had come as her friend. They wanted them to arrive to the ceremony separately even though they were getting ready together. When it came time for the rehearsal dinner, the church team tried to separate them again, but Lopez said, “She’s with us,” which made them leave her alone. That Jennifer Lopez voucher goes a long way!
Tom Cruise sang “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” to Katie Holmes.
The couple would go on to divorce in 2012.
Bella and Connor Cruise don’t talk to their mom, Nicole Kidman, because she’s “a fucking SP.”
Remini was going back to the airport with Bella and Connor Cruise, the kids Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman adopted when the pair was married. When Remini asked them about their mom, Bella replied, “Not if I have a choice. Our mom is a fucking SP.” An SP, you’ll remember, is a Suppressive Person, which is basically Scientology lingo for scum. She observed:
Connor just looked out the window. There was something more human about his silence and the sadness I felt in it. My heart broke for him, his sister, and their mother as we rode the rest of the way to the airport without saying another word.
Katie Holmes wrote a “Knowledge Report” saying Remini’s behavior at her wedding “disturbed [her] greatly.”
Get ready for a lot of Scientology jargon ahead. A Knowledge Report is basically an official snitching document. It’s what you write to keep other people in line, if and when you see that what they’re doing isn’t in accordance with Scientology rules. Holmes did so after the wedding, saying that Remini had been “very upsetting” and was a “poor example to others.” A number of other Scientology members submitted such Knowledge Reports against Remini after the wedding.
Afterward, Remini had to then submit to a “Truth Rundown” where an “Ethics Officer” does an “auditing” session with you by examining each Knowledge Report. If you say that you saw someone high-ranking like Tom Cruise being an asshole, you then have to say what “overt” (sin, basically) you committed before Tom committed his, and so on. She writes:
The Truth Rundown worked; I started to crack. I begged [the auditor] to stop, and when that didn’t work, I looked into the camera in the wall of the auditing room and directly at the person watching the sessions. “This is not LRH,” I pleaded. “You are destroying my and your own faith.”
Remini endured weeks and weeks of 12 hours a day in auditing, until she “retracted almost everything.” She said that she was the source of the problems at the wedding, and then had to make up for her wrongdoing with a number of gifts and donations, including a gift basket with a letter of apology to J.J. Abrams, whom she was told was upset by her behavior at the wedding.
For Holmes, she spent $2,000 on framing the invitation and other mementos from the wedding for a picture box with a note that read, “I’m so sorry that I destroyed your wedding.” Katie simply responded with a text: “Just handle it with your MAA.” (A MAA is a Master-at-Arms, who oversees ethics at the church.)
Best wedding ever?