A&E canceled the KKK series last Saturday before it even aired, after discovering that producers on the show had paid some some participants on the project. The network stated that cash payments were a “direct violation of A&E’s policies and practices for a documentary.”
On Wednesday, a lawyer for the Church of Scientology, Gary Soter, slammed A&E, saying that the network is hypocritical for canceling the KKK show, while continuing to tout the Scientology show.
In a letter first obtained by TMZ, the Church counsel argues that A&E has paid on-air subjects in Remini’s series, writing: “Church of Scientology understands that two on-air accusers/participants in Leah Remini’s docuseries, ‘Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,’ received substantial cash payments for their participation, in violation of the same standards.”
The letter continues, “It is hypocritical for A&E to proclaim its intent to ‘expose and combat racism and hatred in all its forms’ in cancelling the KKK show and at the same time promote Leah Remini’s program which promotes hatred that A&E claims that it wants to stop.”
When asked for further comment by Variety, The Church of Scientology told us, “the letter speaks for itself.”
A&E declined to comment on whether participants in “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” were paid — other than Remini, who is an executive producer on the docuseries — but an insider close to the network tells Variety that even if participants were paid, financial payments would be common practice for participants in a television docuseries.
The source says that the network “explicitly” and “strictly” told producers of the KKK docuseries that no members of the hate group were to be paid, so when they discovered that payments were issued, they canceled the show.
“We’re talking about payments made to hate group members versus payment to Leah, the EP of the show,” a person familiar with the situation told Variety.
“It’s a different animal,” the insider said, comparing the KKK show to the Scientology series. “It’s apples and oranges.”
The cancellation of the KKK docuseries came after a substantial about of negative Twitter chatter, regarding the controversial docuseries, which was formerly titled “Generation KKK” and then changed to “Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America,” just one day before it was ultimately yanked off A&E’s schedule. Meanwhile, Remini’s series has been bringing in monster ratings and critical praise for A&E.
Leah Remini’s team did not immediately reply to Variety‘s request for comment.