TODAY   |  March 16, 2010

Kirstie Alley fired up over ‘Big Life,’ Scientology

Actress Kirstie Alley's struggle to maintain a healthy body weight is documented in her new reality show, “Big Life.” She speaks with TODAY’s Meredith Vieira about the scrutiny she receives in the media and defends her line of weight-loss products, denying that its profits are tied to the Church of Scientology.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

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.