Leah Remini

Leah Remini

Born: June 15, 1970
Age: 47
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
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Biography

Leah Marie Remini (/ˈliːə ˈrɛmᵻni/; born June 15, 1970) is an American actress, producer, author, comedian and since 2013 an Anti-Scientology activist. She is best known for her roles as Carrie Heffernan on the comedy series The King of Queens (1998-2007) and Lara in the film Old School, as well as a co-hosting The Talk from 2010-2011. Remini starred in the show Leah Remini: It's All Relative. Also in 2015, Remini released Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, her memoir about her experience with Scientology and reasons for leaving it. In 2016, she followed up her memoir with a documentary television series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, to highlight other former Scientologists' experiences.

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Early life

Remini was born June 15, 1970 in Brooklyn, New York City, to George Remini, who owned an asbestos removal company, and his wife, Vicki Marshall, a schoolteacher. Her mother is of Austrian Jewish descent, while her father has Sicilian ancestry. Remini has an older sister named Nicole and four half-sisters: Christine, Stephanie (died 2013), Elizabeth, and Shannon.

She was baptized Roman Catholic and raised in the Catholic tradition during her early childhood; when she was nine years old, her mother joined the Church of Scientology, and Remini was thereafter raised as a Scientologist. At thirteen years old, Remini moved to Los Angeles, California with her mother, where she spent the remainder of her teenage years.

Career

Acting

One of Remini's early television roles was on Who's the Boss? as Charlie Briscoe, which led to a spin-off series entitled Living Dolls, in which Remini starred with Halle Berry. The show premiered in late 1989 and ran for 12 episodes before being cancelled.

Remini appeared on Saved by the Bell, playing Stacey Carosi. She then appeared in two series, First Time Out and Fired Up. In 1993, she appeared on Cheers as the daughter of Carla and Nick Tortelli (Rhea Perlman and Dan Hedaya). In 1994, Remini auditioned for the role of Monica Geller on Friends, but the role went to Courteney Cox. Remini later appeared in the 1995 Friends episode "The One with the Birth" in which she played a pregnant woman. In 1998, Remini landed the role of Carrie Heffernan on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens. The series was successful, and ran for nine seasons.

During her time on the show, she had a supporting role in the comedy film Old School (2003). Remini also starred in her own reality show, which aired on VH1. The King of Queens ran for nine seasons, from September 21, 1998, to May 14, 2007. Since The King of Queens ended, Remini has starred in nine-episode webisodes of In the Motherhood, along with Chelsea Handler and Jenny McCarthy. She has made two guest appearances on Chelsea Lately. On December 15, 2009, Remini appeared as Carrie Heffernan on Lopez Tonight, with George Lopez as Doug Heffernan in an episode reuniting the cast of the George Lopez sitcom. Remini and Holly Robinson Peete appeared on The Young and the Restless on July 28, 2011.

In October 2011, it was announced that Remini signed a talent development deal at ABC and ABC Studios that required the network and the studio to develop a comedy project for Remini to star in and produce. In March 2012, it was announced that Remini would star in an ABC comedy Family Tools, a remake of the UK comedy series White Van Man. The series premiered on May 1, 2013, and was not renewed owing to low ratings, ending its run on July 10, 2013.

On September 4 that year, it was announced publicly on Good Morning America that Remini would compete as a contestant on season 17 of Dancing with the Stars, in which she was partnered with professional dancer Tony Dovolani. The couple made it to the 10th week of competition and reached 5th place. Remini later returned in season 19 as a guest co-host on week 6. She returned as guest co-host on season 21 during weeks 6 and 7.

On November 22, 2013, it was announced that Remini joined the cast of the TV Land comedy The Exes, filling a recurring role starting in the third season.

Remini and her husband Angelo starred in a reality television series titled Leah Remini: It's All Relative. The show focuses on Remini's family life. It premiered on TLC on July 10, 2014. According to Remini, the purpose of the show is to highlight the fact that she's a normal person just like everyone else and that celebrity doesn't change that.

Remini developed an eight-episode series for A&E focusing on ex-Scientologists speaking candidly about their experiences entitled Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. The show premiered November 29, 2016. In a statement released by the network Leah said:

For too long, this multi-billion-dollar organization bullied victims and journalists to prevent the truth from being told. It is my hope that we 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.

In early 2017, Remini returned to acting and was announced as one of the leads in NBC's sitcom What About Barb?, a gender-swapped version of the 1991 Frank Oz comedy What About Bob?. She will be playing Suzanne, a renowned psychotherapist and best-selling author. Jessica Gunning will be her co-star. In March 2017, it was announced Remini would reunite with Kevin James on the season finale of Kevin Can Wait.

The Talk

Remini was a co-host on The Talk, a CBS talk show which premiered October 18, 2010. Julie Chen, Sara Gilbert, Holly Robinson Peete, and Sharon Osbourne were her co-hosts. The show is similar to The View and seeks to address motherhood and contemporary issues. Remini drew criticism within the first week of the show's debut, accused of being too loud, brash, and obtrusive. It was stated on one episode that she had received a significant amount of negative Twitter feedback on this subject. Remini addressed the issue, stating she refused to change who she is and asserting that thousands of fans like her for who she is. Her co-hosts supported her response. After the first season ended, Remini was not asked to return to the show. Just weeks after Remini was let go, Holly Robinson Peete was also informed that her contract was not being renewed.

A refusal to disclose why Remini and Peete were fired brought on a great deal of criticism of the show and protests from the stars' fans. While there was much speculation that their former Talk co-host, Julie Chen, had involvement in the decision, as she is married to CBS President/CEO Leslie Moonves, it was Sharon Osbourne who stated, regarding their dismissals, in December 2011 on The Howard Stern Show: "Some people don't really know who they are. And you have to know who you are when you're in something like this. You can't pretend to be something you're not. You have to know your brand. You can't be all things to everyone." Osbourne replied to criticism about the refusal to inform Remini and Peete why they were let go, rhetorically stating, "Why should we call them to discuss?"

In March 2012, a heavily publicized Twitter dispute ignited between Remini and Osbourne when Remini fired back at Osbourne for her comments on The Howard Stern Show. In response to questions from her Twitter followers, Remini tweeted:

Ask Sharon. She had us fired...Sharon thought me and Holly were too 'Ghetto'. (her words) we were not funny, awkward and didn't know ourselves. Haters Gon' Hate. True. But, Haters have the balls to say they 'Hate'...not call themselves your friend. She had us fired all the while calling me and Holly her friend. Heartbreaking. Yes. She had us fired she told Howard Stern. Explains why she never called us back.

In response, Osbourne tweeted, "I had absolutely nothing to do with her departure from the show and have no idea why she continues to take to Twitter to spread this false gossip." Leah knows that I have never been in the position to hire or fire anyone on the show. That being said, my only wish is that Leah would just stop all this negative, unprofessional and childish behavior. It's been seven months. It's time to move on. Leah is a very talented actress and I only wish her happiness and success. I know that better things are to come if she can just get beyond this negativity. Remini tweeted a challenge to Osbourne to establish in a court of law what statements she (Remini) had made that were untrue.

While co-hosting The Talk, Remini turned down various parts on situation comedies, stating that any new role would make her feel as if she were cheating on Doug Heffernan, her character's husband on The King of Queens. She added that she needs to spend more time with her child and family.

Personal life

Remini met her husband, a Puerto Rican man named Angelo Pagán, at a Cuban restaurant in 1996. He has three sons from previous relationships. They were married on July 19, 2003. Their daughter, Sofia, was born on June 16, 2004.

Scientology

Beginning at age nine, Remini was a member of the Church of Scientology. In December 2005, she helped promote the gala opening of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights Psychiatry: An Industry of Death museum on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Responding to criticism of Scientology during an interview on CNN, Remini said, "If somebody is going to get turned off about something because of what they read or heard, then that person's not smart enough to even enter a church. If you're really against something, then know what you're against."

In July 2013, Remini left the Church of Scientology, owing to policies that forbid members from questioning the management of church leader David Miscavige, which she believed was corrupt; the reported abuse of members of its Sea Org religious order; its policy of "disconnection"; and its practice of branding those who have left the church of their own accord as "Suppressive Persons". According to former high-ranking Sea Org member Mike Rinder, Remini's problems with the Church began when she asked about the whereabouts of Miscavige's wife Shelly at the 2006 wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and was told profanely that she lacked the rank to do so. Remini then filed a "knowledge report" that was critical of Miscavige, Cruise, and other senior Scientology members and behavior on the part of members that was inconsistent with Church rules. She was subsequently "subjected to years of 'interrogations' and 'thought modification'" that led to her being blacklisted within the Church, while fellow parishioners with whom she had been friends for decades wrote internal reports about her, resulting in a Church investigation into her family.

During a September 9, 2013, appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Remini discussed her departure from the Church and the loss of friends who are still in the Church and, according to Remini, are not permitted to have contact with her. Following her departure from the Church, she publicly expressed her appreciation for those who supported her departure. Remini's sister, Nicole, who had earlier left the Church herself, revealed that the rest of their family left the Church along with her to avoid being split up by the Church's disconnection policy. Writer and director Paul Haggis, who had previously been the most famous person to publicly disavow Scientology, wrote an open letter, published by The Hollywood Reporter, thanking Remini for standing by him after he left the Church and praised her "enormous amount of integrity and compassion".

In August 2013, it was disclosed that Remini had filed a missing person report with the Los Angeles Police Department concerning the disappearance of Shelly Miscavige. After the report was filed, the Los Angeles Police Department looked into the matter, allegedly met with Shelly in person, closed the investigation, and said Remini's report was "unfounded". The Church said in a statement that the whole affair was simply harassment and a publicity stunt for Remini.

In October 2013, it was reported that Remini had been subpoenaed to testify in a Comal County, Texas lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige, regarding acts of alleged harassment and surveillance against the wife of a former member, Monique Rathbun (who was married to ex-Scientology executive Mark Rathbun). Rathbun's attorney, Ray Jeffery, says he wants Remini, a former Scientologist, to give a deposition in the hopes she could testify that Miscavige has vast influence over the operations of the church and had to have known about the alleged harassment.

Remini released her memoir Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology on November 3, 2015. In a 2015 interview with People magazine, Remini stated that she was embracing Catholicism and found comfort in the religion's practices, contrasting her experiences with Scientology.

Filmography

Film

Year Film Role Notes
1997 Critics and Other Freaks Actress at audition
1998 Follow Your Heart Angie
2003 Old School Lara Campbell
2017 Mad Families Cheyenne
2017 The Clapper Producer Louise Completed
2017 Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie Esta Post-production

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1988 Head of the Class Episode: "Let's Rap"
1989 Who's the Boss? Charlie Briscoe 2 episodes
Living Dolls 12 episodes
1990 Normal Life Carol Episode: "And Baby Makes..."
1991 Paradise Rose Episode: "Out of the Ashes"
The Hogan Family Joanne Episode: "A Sneaking Suspicion"
The Man in the Family Tina Bavasso 7 episodes
Saved by the Bell Stacey Carosi 6 episodes
1991-1993 Cheers Serafina Tortelli 2 episodes
1992 Blossom Ellen Episode: "You Must Remember This"
Getting Up and Going Home Stephanie O'Neil Television film
1993 Evening Shade Daisy 3 episodes
Harlan & Merleen Frankie Television film
1994 The Commish Gail Ross Episode: "Sergeant Kelly"
Renegade Tina Episode: "The King and I"
1994-1996 Phantom 2040 Sagan Cruz (voice) 22 episodes
1995 Diagnosis: Murder Agnes Benedetto Episode: "How to Murder Your Lawyer"
Friends Lydia Episode: "The One with the Birth"
First Time Out Dominique Costellano 12 episodes
Star Witness Television film
1996 Biker Mice from Mars Carbine (voice) 2 episodes
Home Improvement Maria Gomez Episode: "The Bud Bowl"
NYPD Blue Angela Bohi Episode: "Closing Time"
1997-1998 Fired Up Terry Reynolds 28 episodes
1998-2007 The King of Queens Carrie Heffernan 207 episodes
2001 Hooves of Fire (American redub) Vixen (voice) Television film
2002 Legend of the Lost Tribe (American redub) Koala (voice)
2003 VH1 Inside Out: Leah Remini's Wedding Special Herself Documentary
2004 VH1 Inside Out: Leah Remini's Baby Special
2005 Fat Actress Episode: "The Koi Effect"
2007-2008 In the Motherhood Kim 8 episodes
2009 Lopez Tonight Carrie Heffernan Cameo appearance Episode: "December 15, 2009"
Married Not Dead Jessica Television film
It Takes a Village Karen
2010-2011 The Talk Herself Talk show host, 135 episodes
2011 Toddlers and Tiaras: Where Are They Now? Juana Short
2012 The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange Polly Prune / Butch Ravioli 2 episodes
2013 Family Tools Terry Baumgardner Lead character, 10 episodes
Phineas and Ferb Doreen 2 episodes
2013, 2014, 2015 Dancing with the Stars Herself Contestant on season 17
Eliminated 8th; 5th place
Guest co-host for season 19 and season 21
2014 RuPaul's Drag Race Herself / Guest Judge Episode: "Glamazon by Colorevolution"
Hollywood Game Night Herself Episode: "A Hollywood Scandal"
2014-2015 The Exes Nikki Gardner Recurring role, 15 episodes
Leah Remini: It's All Relative Herself TLC reality show, 26 episodes
2015 Repeat After Me Episode: "#1.5"
2016 Match Game Recurring panelist, 2 episodes
2016-present Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath Presenter, 8 episodes
2017 Milo Murphy's Law Ms. Baxter (voice) Episode: "The Substitute/Time Out"
What About Barb? Dr. Suzanne Marvin Television film
2017-present Kevin Can Wait Vanessa Cellucci 2 episodes

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
1993 Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Grace Nakimura Voice

Bibliography

  • Remini, Leah (2015). Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-1101886960.
Charities

Leah Remini supports the following charitable causes: AIDS, ALS (amyrotrophic lateral sclerosis), Children.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]