A&E may have canceled “Escaping the KKK,” but it won’t be that easy for the network to escape from the show — especially if the Church of Scientology has anything to do with it.
The cable network yanked the upcoming docuseries about the Ku Klux Klan this month after network bosses said producers had paid participants in violation of the company’s standards. But church leaders — involved in a separate battle with A&E over an anti-Scientology series starring Leah Remini — aren’t buying that story, saying that because Remini and a producer were paid for their efforts on her show, A&E’s “KKK” explanation doesn’t make any sense.
“Escaping the KKK” would not normally attract attention from the church, but in this case it’s a useful tool for Scientology leaders looking to pressure a media enemy on the Remini show, which they feel is detrimental to their cause.
When TheWrap contacted the church for comment, a spokeswoman responded with a written statement that said A&E “needs to get its story straight.”
Spokeswoman Karin Pouw said that A&E has said both that cash payments to documentary participants violate company policy (in the case of “KKK”) and that it’s “common practice” (in the case of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”).
“The Church and its leaders have received more than 100 hate postings, which includes at least 50 threats of death or violence, while acts of vandalism have been carried out on our Churches since the [Remini] show began airing,” Pouw wrote. “So A&E is turning a blind eye on religious hate while claiming to take ‘the subject of racism, hatred and violence very seriously’” in the case of the “KKK” show.
An A&E representative declined to comment. But a person close to the situation said that network executives made a distinction between payments going to members of a hate group, in the case of the Klan docuseries, and payments made to executive producers on a TV series, as in the case of Remini and her producer.
What seems clear, at this point, is that A&E hasn’t heard the last of “Escaping the KKK.”