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Video: Kirstie Alley fired up over ‘Big Life,’ Scientology

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    woman vo: walmart.

    >>> emmy winning actress kirstie alley 's life embattled with weight loss have been well documented. she's turning the cameras on herself in her new reality show , "a big life ." but first, a glimpse into kirstie's world.

    >> reporter: it's a reality few of us can imagine. being hounded by photographers and having your appearance constantly scrutinized.

    >> look at that! oh, my god, that is the ugliest thing i've ever seen in my life. i look hideous.

    >> but you don't look like that.

    >> i do.

    >> reporter: for emmy-award winning actress kirstie alley who first rose to stardom in the 1980s hit show, "cheers," it's a struggle she's shared with the public before.

    >> i mean is it so much to ask if i have my own television show again since that's what i do for a living?

    >> reporter: she played a thinly veiled version of herself in " fat actress ."

    >> have you called jenny yet?

    >> reporter: that same year, kirstie became the spokesperson for jenny craig and lost 75 pounds. in 2006 she made good on a promise to appear on oprah in a bikini. * she's a brickhouse *

    >> reporter: but over the next two years, the single mom of two gained the weight back.

    >> what really bothers me the most is that i let myself get that way in the first place, and then i lost it all, then i frickin' let myself get that way again.

    >> reporter: kirstie has struggled with her weight for years. she's up, she's down, she's back up again. but i think that's what her fans love about her, she's relatable.

    >> reporter: so this time, kirstie is turning her weight loss journey into a business venture .

    >> welcome to kirstie alley 's organic liaison.

    >> reporter: the plan costs over $1,700 for for year's membership and supply and supplements. kirstie is a well-known member of the church of scientology .

    >> many of these executives seem to be top-level scientologists. the company's headquarters is in clear water , florida, in the same building as one of the scientology offices. so there is a lot of questions about how close these two groups are and if this isn't really just a front for scientology.

    >> reporter: the actress says she's lost 20 pounds so far, but viewers will have to tune in to see whether this product can help her finally get to, and stay at, her goal weight.

    >> let's do this.

    >> kirstie alley , good morning to you.

    >> good morning.

    >> i wasn't going to start with the whole scientology controversy but i watched you watching that.

    >> it's such bull [ bleep ] -- can we see that?

    >> no, we cannot.

    >> it's bull-sha. it's not true.

    >> no connection between you and the church of scientology ?

    >> no, nothing. and the top executives -- i'm the top executive and the address in clear water is my accountant. he's a scientology jew. i mean what is the -- i don't know what to say to it.

    >> i think there are a lot of people, truth be told, who think anything connected to scientology is quackery. they look at diets and they start to wonder if any of the profits from this company go to scientology.

    >> no, they don't. no, i'm way too cheap to do that.

    >> did you -- then we'll drop this but you're a devout scientologist. you talk a lot about the fact that you were addicted to cocaine and it was their drug rehab program that got you off it.

    >> yep.

    >> in the first place. do you apply any of the techniques that you learned back then to the addiction with food? is there a correlation between drug addiction and food addiction ?

    >> well, instead of calling them addictions i just call them compulsions.

    >> is that a nice word for addiction ?

    >> well, you think it puts it in a different category for me where i can just examine it a little bit better. addiction is sort of thrown out there all the time now. you know? i think that food is a little bit different in the aspect of it's legal, one. it is something that you're going to do every day. in one form or another. and i don't have -- i don't have people -- i didn't have people saying, yeah, do cocaine, yeah, it's really good for you. it's healthy, it makes you look good, it's great for you. food can be something that's something that really nourishes you and really makes you stronger and have more energy. there's all these benefits from it if you use it right.

    >> which you have not done in the past. you recently told your fans on twitter that you hate reality shows .

    >> yeah, i do.

    >> so why are you doing one?

    >> well, because i think that there is a valid type of reality show . the reason i hate reality shows is because i don't like back-bity, snippy, mean, degraded shows. that's pretty much the arena of most reality shows . so i felt like there was a place where you could see my kids don't do drugs, you know? they're not banging down the booze. they're not -- our household is happy and we get along and we love each other and the people that work with us, my assistant's worked for me for 20 years. we have long-term people in the house and --

    >> healthy relationships.

    >> yeah, we do. we're not all dysfunctional and -- but more importantly, we're not all mean to each other. i thought there was a valid arena to see something that was real, that wasn't mean.

    >> well, you also -- the point of this show is to take a look at your struggles with weight, among other things. you're going on a diet throughout the show.

    >> yeah.

    >> we've seen you in those struggles before with " fat actress ," obviously you're a spokesperson for jenny craig . you lost a lot of weight, 75 pounds. you went on oprah , the famous shot of you, you were giggling when you saw yourself in the bathing suit . then you gained it back. what happened? you were doing so great. have you sat back and figured out why you back-tracked?

    >> you know, i haven't given a lot of thought to why. i've given just more credence to "did." so i didn't think i'd ever get fat again but i'm pretty hard-headed and i tried to quit smoking five times and then i finally quit smoking . when i decide to do it -- i think there was also a bit of an unreality, unlike whoever that reporter was that you had on there talking about how i've yo-yoed all my life, it isn't true. i've actually only spent about four years of my entire life fat. so i -- once i lost it the last time, i didn't think this would happen again. but when it started happening again, i realized i need to create something for me that helps me with two things. craving -- because that's a big deal for me, and wanting to eat too much. i've eaten a lot of food my whole life because i was an athlete and i could just eat a lot of food and not gain weight. but those two things aren't true for me anymore so i had to create something. that's where i created my weight loss program which was to help me not crave and to not want to eat a lot of food. it's successful.

    >> how does it work exactly?

    >> well, there's three products basically. it's to -- called organic liaison. it is one -- one product is called rescue me, the first certified usda organic product in the country. you drink it and it has all of these antioxidants and different things. but in combination with each other it actually makes you not crave. makes you not very hungry. but all organic. it is very healthy.

    >> are you sort of the guinea pig ? i don't mean that in any negative --

    >> no, guinea is a little pig. i'm happy to be a guinea pig .

    >> has anybody else actually used this product?

    >> oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. we probably have 50 or 60 or more guinea pigs that have been doing it for the last -- however many months. we sort of rolled them out and rolled them out and rolled them out. one of my friends has lost over 55 pounds. i sort of had to start when we started the show. i've been doing it since january.

    >> you've lost 20 pounds so far. do you have a goal weight in mind, kirstie?

    >> yeah, i like the way i look at around 145 probably. i always set my goal too low because i think back on -- i think i need to weigh 120 pounds. i think those days are over of weighing 120 pounds. i think 145 is probably good. i'm 5'8".

    >> that seems like a very reasonable weight. we got a sneak peek of some of the first episode. there is a scene with you and your two kids, true who's 17, and lilly, who's 15. you're sitting on the bed and talking about the first time that the paparazzi or tabloids went after you about your weight. let's take a look at this and then talk.

    >> okay.

    >> you know, when i started out my career i weighed like 118. i think the first time they started doing the fat thing is when i was pregnant and i had a miscarriage. that was really upsetting. and i had actually gained 12 pounds, so they followed me around and then instead of talking about me having a miscarriage they talked about how fat i was. it was mean, evil.

    >> that's sick.

    >> so it means that fat pictures of me sell tons of magazines.

    >> when was that miscarriage?

    >> oh, god. i don't know? 1990 ?

    >> a long time ago.

    >> yes.

    >> i agree with you that you were a target of the paparazzi, but why do you think they focused so much on you?

    >> i think it sells magazines. that's all. it sells magazines. for whatever reason , if it didn't sell magazines i wouldn't be on the cover of them. i don't know. i had lunch with elizabeth taylor once. she said you and i have something in common. we're always in the tabloids. we talked about how you can't quite figure out why because the paparazzi's followed me since the beginning of my career.

    >> do you worry now that they might follow your kids?

    >> they follow my kids anyway. i don't worry, they follow my kids to school, they follow my kids, they follow them anyway. so actually, now that we have cameras of our own, instead of ten paparazzi outside our house , there's about zero now.

    >> i think part of the reason you do the show is to take back ownership of your life, in a way.

    >> yeah, they don't like to be shot themselves. especially like their license plates of their cars they don't like to be photographed. i think they have little records and things. so we're ready and willing to shoot them in front of our house but they don't show up anymore.

    >> i also wonder, the whole notion of losing weight in a public way, like you did with jenny craig , or this. is that part of the plan that it puts more pressure on you, now you really got to do it because everybody's really watching every week?

    >> my life is about this much and my weight loss is about this much to me. i've never decided -- i didn't think, i'm going to be the pied piper for weight loss .

    >> but you've sort of become that.

    >> i sort of did, because when i did jenny craig and i lost weight, people started looking at me in that way, and it was fun. i had fun doing it. i'm having fun doing this. so i think more that now i am -- i do need to be sort of a role model, and whether it's self-appointed or outwardly appointed, i think that that's my responsibility now.

    >> were those folks at jenny craig really mad when you put the weight back on?

    >> no.

    >> they didn't --

    >> i don't think so. they weren't over at my house like to hit me or anything.

    >> so you left them, they didn't say to you bye-bye.

    >> no, it was mutual. whenever you do a campaign for someone, you decide the angle of it. their decision was to make it a little bit more serious and my thing is that i liked doing the really funny silly ads and so i think that's pretty much what happened with us.

    >> kirstie, we have literally ten seconds. what's with the lemurs? can't you have a dog, like everything else?

    >> i do have dogs, too. i've had lemurs for 30 years. that helps me learn children about madagascar. one love you. look at how beautiful.

TODAY contributor
updated 3/18/2010 6:09:32 PM ET 2010-03-18T22:09:32

After regaining all the weight she lost for Jenny Craig, Kirstie Alley has embarked on another public diet. But this time, the weight-loss program she’s selling is her own — and, the actress said, reports that’s it’s somehow connected to her Scientologist religion are unfounded.

On Tuesday in New York, TODAY’s Meredith Vieira asked Alley directly whether the “Organic Liaison” diet program is connected to Scientology.

“It’s such bullsh....” Alley started to say, before Vieira interrupted and stopped her from finishing a barnyard epithet.

‘It’s not true’
Vieira said that several Web sites and Scientology critics have reported that the directors of Alley’s company are top-level Scientologists, and that the business’s address is at the same building that houses Scientology offices in Clearwater, Fla.

“There are a lot of questions about how close these two groups are, and whether this isn’t just a front for Scientology,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Roger Friedman told NBC News.

“It’s not true. It’s not true,” Alley told Vieira. “I’m the top executive. The address in Clearwater is my accountant, and he’s a Scientology Jew. I don’t know what to say to it.”

Alley is one of several Hollywood celebrities — Tom Cruise and John Travolta are others — who are high-ranking members of the religion founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Two years ago it was widely reported that she donated $5 million to the religion, earning her “diamond meritorious” status.

Vieira asked Alley if Scientology shares in the profits from her weight-loss program.

“No, they don’t. I’m way too cheap to do that,” she said with a laugh.

Battle of the bulge
In 2005, Alley, who had ballooned to 200 pounds, signed on with Jenny Craig as a spokeswoman and did a series of commercials that followed her as she lost 75 pounds using Jenny Craig products.

Then Alley and Craig parted ways and the former “Cheers” star started gaining weight again. This time, she hit 230 pounds before she decided to develop her own weight-loss program.

Alley also signed with A&E for a reality series that will chronicle the 59-year-old’s efforts to get down to 145 pounds.

The show, “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life,” also features her two adopted teenage children, son True and daughter Lillie. It’s something of a departure for Alley, who professes to hate reality shows.

Kirstie Alley and John Travolta are among celebrities well-known for their advocacy of Scientology.
“The reason I hate reality shows is I don’t like snippy, backbiting, mean, degrading shows, and that’s pretty much the arena of most reality shows,” Alley told Vieira.

Her show is different, she said.

“I felt there was a place where you could see my kids don’t do drugs. They’re not banging down the booze. Our household is happy, we get along, we love each other,” she said. “We’re not all dysfunctional. We’re not all mean to each other. I thought there was a valid arena to see something that was real, that wasn’t mean.”

Tabloid fodder
Alley is a paparazzi magnet, and the tabloids love putting “fat shots” of her on their covers. She’s been accused of being a serial dieter who’s alternated between fat and skinny for years. She said the perception is not true.

On Nov. 6, 2006, Alley displayed herself in a bikini on “Oprah,” telling the daytime host she lost 75 pounds on Jenny Craig. She subsequently gained the weight back.
“I’ve actually only spent about four years of my entire life fat,” she told Vieira. “Once I lost it the last time, I didn’t think this would happen again. When it started happening again, I realized I need to create something for me that helps me with two things: craving, because that’s a big deal for me, and wanting to eat too much.”

In an excerpt from her show, she was shown in her bedroom with True and Lillie talking about her weight.

“When I started out in my career, I weighed like 118,” she tells her kids. “I think the first time they started this ‘fat’ thing was when I was pregnant and I had a miscarriage, that was really upsetting. And I actually gained 12 pounds, so they followed me around, and instead of talking about my miscarriage, they talked about how fat I was. It was mean. Evil.”

Kirstie Alley and her adopted children, Lillie Price and William True, dine out at Katsuya restaurant in Hollywood
Ben Dome, Matt Smith, Pacificcoa  /  PacificCoastNews.com
Kirstie Alley’s adopted daughter, Lillie Price, and adopted son, William True, seen here leaving a Hollywood restaurant with her in January 2010, appear with the actress in “Kirstie Alley’s Big Life.”
“That’s sick,” Lillie says.

“So it means that fat pictures of me sell tons of magazines,” Alley answers.

To Vieira, she added, “I think it sells magazines. That’s all. If it didn’t sell magazines, I wouldn’t be on the cover.” Alley said she once had lunch with Elizabeth Taylor, who said much the same thing.

“She said, ‘You and I, we have something in common. We’re always in the tabloids,’ ” the Emmy winner told Vieira. “You can’t quite figure out why. The paparazzi have followed me since the beginning of my career.”

A Pied Piper?
Alley said a side benefit of filming her own reality series is that the paparazzi who once camped out outside her house have disappeared. She assumes that’s because people who make a living photographing others don’t like being photographed themselves.

Alley said that pursuing paparazzi have disappeared since she started filming her reality series.
Alley’s Organic Liaison program costs about $5 a day, or about $1,700 a year, for the three supplements that are supposed to cleanse the body and curb appetite, according to her Web site. It advocates eating organically as being healthier.

The site has two disclaimers. One says: “Organic Liaison is a calorie-based weight loss program. Weight loss differs depending on the size, age, gender and activity level of the individual and is often more rapid at the beginning of the program. A weight loss of 2-3 pounds/week is expected as an average.”

The other says: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

Slideshow: Alley oop! Alley say she’s already lost about 20 pounds, all of it in front of the cameras. She said that some 50 or 60 people have tested the product. “One of my friends has lost over 55 pounds,” she told Vieira.

“I didn’t think I was going to be the Pied Piper for weight loss, but I’ve sort of become that,” Alley told Vieira. “I’m having fun doing this. I do need to be sort of a role model, whether it’s self-appointed or outwardly appointed. That’s sort of my responsibility now.”

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