Why Leah Remini Says She Didn't Try Getting King Of Queens Co-Star Kevin James Into Scientology

kevin can wait leah remini

Over on A&E, Season 2 of the Emmy-nominated docu-series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath is going strong, maintaining much of the audience base that tuned in for the first season's initial run. The actress and former Scientologist will be back on network TV full-time for Season 2 of CBS' Kevin Can Wait, where she'll be reunited with her former King of Queens co-star Kevin James. Remini is now claiming that during her time on the '90s sitcom, she was pressured into trying to convert James into a Scientologist. Here's why she said she refused to go through with it.

They always tried to get me to, [asking] 'Why is he not in? Why have you not promoted it to him?' I was like, 'Because he's Catholic. He doesn't want anything to do with it.' They let it go after a while, but usually you'd be expected to recruit, especially with somebody you work with for nine years.

That assessment sounds similar to other things that Leah Remini has said in the past, as well as what other former Scientologists have reported after leaving the Church behind, as far as the importance placed on the recruitment process goes. Given how much value people tend to place on fame, there would certainly be an advantage in having TV stars as the ones supposedly being tasked to do the recruiting, though perhaps not the biggest one if it's another TV star as the one being targeted. And it's perhaps interesting that Remini says it was Kevin James' Catholicism that stopped her from pressuring him into considering Scientology.

Leah Remini's claims, given in an interview with People, weren't the most strongly worded allegations that she's laid out, and they're not the easiest statements to verify outside the actress' own take on it all. And to be expected, the Church of Scientology was quick to put its branded kibosh on Remini's allegations that other Scientologists were peppering her to get Kevin James interested in joining. According to a statement issued by the Church:

We have nothing to do with Kevin James and never attempted to 'recruit' him to the Church. How does Leah Remini bring this up now after she wrote an entire book and didn't mention it? Remini does it to get attention. Indeed, the only thing we know about Kevin James is that Remini would repeatedly tell the Church that he was a bully and we tried to counsel her to be more open and communicate so they could get along better. The Church's full response is at leahreminiaftermath.com.

Certainly an interesting denial, as it spins things in a different light as far as Leah Remini and Kevin James' on-set relationship goes. But without anything more than hearsay to finger Remini for calling James a bully back then, that claim in the same boat as Remini's own words.

It's apparent that Remini and James' relationship hasn't soured over the years, though. The duo's reunion earlier this year for the CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait was received so well by both the stars and the show's crew that Remini was brought on as a full-time cast member, while actress Erinn Hayes was given the boot. (The latter's character will have been killed off whenever the new season begins.)

Tune in every Tuesday night on A&E to watch new episodes of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, airing at 8:00 p.m. ET, with back-to-back installments popping up on September 5. Meanwhile, Kevin Can Wait Season 2 will be hitting CBS' schedule again on Monday, September 25, at 9:00 p.m. ET. And to see everything else that's heading to the small screen in the near future, head to our fall premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.