New Lea Renmini documentary on A&E takes arms against Scientology

Firefight: Leah & Scientology

Billed as a gutsy work of investigative journalism, former Scientologist Leah Remini's A&E doc series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath already has been met with complaints from the Church of Scientology - even before it was set to premiere Tuesday night.

Remini, author of the 2015 best-seller Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, promises that the eight-part TV show will have former Scientologists share "shocking stories of abuse, heartbreak, and harassment" that they allege they suffered at the hands of the church.

The Hollywood Reporter says church reps have called Remini, whose shows include The King of Queens, a "has-been actress" and a "spoiled, entitled diva." Remini's lawyer has hit back with a demand that the org retract the letters and pay her $1.5 mil in compensation.

On Tuesday, Remini told the Hollywood Reporter that Scientology leadership was aggressive when it came to media coverage.

She said that when she was still in the church, she was asked to use her influence to get CBS honcho Les Moonves "to try and get a 60 Minutes report [about Scientology] squashed," Remini, 46, told the industry paper. "I got a call from the church and [church member] Tom [Cruise] to call Les Moonves and use my influence to squash the story."

Michelle Williams on grief

Michelle Williams plays a woman consumed by grief in Manchester by the Sea. It's a feeling the actor knows well: In 2008, her partner Heath Ledger died of an accidental prescription-drug overdose, leaving their daughter without a dad. Matilda Rose is now 11.

"In all honesty, for pretty much everything else, I feel like I'm a believer in not fighting circumstances, accepting where you are and where you've been," Williams, 36, tells Porter magazine of losing Ledger. "In pretty much all senses but one. I would be able to go totally down that line of thinking were it not for Matilda not having her dad. You know, that's just something that doesn't . . . I mean, it just won't ever be right."

Williams says she's not ready to marry anytime soon.

"I just want to stay home," she says, "and take care of people."

It's awards season . . .

Speaking of Manchester by the Sea, the film has come out as an early favorite in the race to the Oscars. On Tuesday, it was named best picture by the National Board of Review. The film's star, Casey Affleck, won the best actor prize, while writer-director Kenneth Lonergan won best original screenplay. Best director went to Barry Jenkins for his masterpiece Moonlight, while one of its stars, Naomie Harris, was named best supporting actress. Full awards info can be found at www.nationalboardofreview.org.

tirdad@phillynews.com

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