I was on a reality TV show in 2005. It was a fascinating and educational experience to put it mildly. I was a touring musician for years and didn’t watch a lot of TV, let alone “reality” TV. I hadn’t really done my homework and didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
The first thing to know about reality TV is that there’s nothing real about it. A better name might be “unscripted” TV. In my case I was actually in a house 24/7 with the other contestants and allowed very limited access to the outside world while we were filming.
What that meant in the real world is that I was constantly surrounded by dozens of camera crew, producers, assistants, makeup and lighting people, the guy who was adjusting the microphone pack I was wearing, etc. I would sleep in a bed and when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I’d have to step over rows and rows of lighting and electrical cables.
There was never a single moment when I forgot I was in the midst of a huge television production. And when I refused to talk trash about the other contestants (after intense and consistent pressure to do so) the editors made it look like I did anyway.
All of this came flooding back to me when I heard through the grapevine that Leah Remini’s “reality” TV show was potentially coming out with another series of episodes. The average person isn’t aware of the massive machinery at any given production company and at the TV network itself which all contributes to the finished product that is the show. It’s not some sort of documentary. It’s a premeditated, calculated and marketed product designed to do one thing: deliver ratings. That means in this case doing or saying whatever will get the most attention, whether it’s true, false, or in that especially murky area in between.
I found that Leah and her husband stuck out like bad apples—along for the ride and mainly interested in what was
in it for them.
Which frankly fits in with my limited experience of being around Leah Remini. I met her in formal settings on a few occasions and worked with her directly once. It was at an event for my church that was celebrating the thousands of man-hours that individuals around the world had spent contributing to humanitarian activities such as human rights, drug education and literacy campaigns. And in and amongst this group of exceptionally able, generous and purpose-driven people, I found that Leah and her husband stuck out like bad apples—along for the ride and mainly interested in what was in it for them.
And now over a decade later, the ranks of people around the world who are using Scientology to help themselves and other people handle life’s problems has grown more than at any point in the Church’s history. The quality, reach and effectiveness of programs promoting human rights, combating drug abuse and creating truly literate students has never been greater.
And Leah’s part in all of this? Ironically, she’s actually brought attention to the Church in ways she probably didn’t predict. People who can think for themselves don’t exactly think her show is Shakespeare. But she’s busy doing whatever it takes to profit from her association with the Church by attacking it in whatever way will deliver ratings. I just don’t believe that anybody thinks that her show has anything to do with “reality” in the sense that most people understand the word. It’s as fictional as any scripted show on TV, just without the benefit of a coherent plot.
Curious newcomers continue to walk through the front door of their local churches to find out what it’s really about. It’s definitely light-years away from how it’s represented on Leah’s show.
But that’s the “reality” Leah creates wherever she goes—whatever serves her personal needs despite any and all collateral damage. Like the hateful calls the Church receives, in volume, and death threats, that are all date-coincident with the airing of her show. At the same time, curious newcomers continue to walk through the front door of their local churches to find out what it’s really about. It’s definitely light-years away from how it’s represented on Leah’s show. There’s a concept in Scientology called “flourish and prosper.” It means to focus on doing well no matter what problems or barriers life throws at you. My Church is doing that now at a level we never have before. We’re reaching and helping more people than ever before. And at the end of the day, that’s all that actually matters.
Here's how we do it: http://www.scientology.org/how-we-help.html