The Controversy Behind Kirstie Alley's 'Big Life'

Trying a new A&E series on for size, the Emmy winner battles a slew of suspicions about her new weight-loss program

Going up several dress sizes is tantamount to a deadly sin in Hollywood. But in the last five years, it's clear Kirstie Alley's strategy has actually been to exploit her weight gain to further her career. Is this gutsy? Shrewd? Nuts? She might be all three.

Alley's latest effort is a new A&E reality series, Big Life (premiering Sunday, 10 p.m. ET). Cameras follow the 59-year-old single mom (Alley and ex-hubby Parker Stevenson split in 1997) as she parents 17-year-old son True and 15-year-old daughter Lillie, and tries improving her health. Pets and friends fill her house, but Alley's quest to slim down is unquestionably the show's underlying theme. 

Wait, haven't we seen this before? More or less -- Showtime's 2005 funny-but-short-lived scripted series, Fat Actress, loosely chronicled the Emmy winner's travails as an overweight Hollywood star. Off the set, Alley also became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig's weight loss program. By 2006, the Cheers star lost 75 pounds, and appeared on Oprah in a bikini to flaunt her success. But in the years since, she regained the weight.

Alley is now launching new line of weight loss products, Organic Liaison, which relies heavily on natural diet supplements and large doses of vitamins and nutrients. Cynics might view the show as a 10-episode infomercial for the diet program, which costs $139 per month (in a country with a 25% obesity rate, Alley potentially has a massive, built-in customer base). On the other hand, she was hardly svelte on her recent Today spot (though she claims she's lost 20 pounds so far). And that's not the only controversy.

In this week's Today show interview, Alley swatted away recent allegations about a link between Organic Liaison and Kirstie's longtime religion, Scientology. Some have suggested that the diet program is simply an updated version of Scientology's "purification rundown" program, which reportedly helped Alley overcome a cocaine addiction years ago. When Meredith Vieira asked if any profits from Alley's diet program would be funneled to Scientology, the actress rolled her eyes and replied, "No, I'm way too cheap to do that."

In Big Life's first episode, Alley (and her "chubby buddy" Jim) interview personal trainers. All the candidates would certainly seem to have their work cut out for them, if they truly want to help turn this TV star's unhealthy habits around. But come to think of it, not losing weight could fuel Alley's fat-fighting career for years to come.

Plus: Oprah Sets Up a 'Booty Call' for Kirstie Alley and Jamie Foxx!

Do you plan to watch Kirstie Alley's new reality series, Big Life? Chime in below!

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