Pop Culture

Jerrod Carmichael’s Scientology Jab Was More Than Just a ‘Joke’

Jerrod Carmichael holds three Golden Globes statues in his arms.

One of the better and certainly most shocking moments of the 2023 Golden Globes was when host Jerrod Carmichael took a dig at Tom Cruise for returning his Golden Globes in 2021 and said they should be exchanged in return for “the safe return of Shelley Miscavige.” You can see the clip here from Leah Remini’s Twitter.

So a little bit of background. Shelly Miscavige is the wife of David Miscavige, the current leader of the Church of Scientology. No one has seen Shelly in public since 2007. It’s not like people haven’t been asking about her. Leah Remini, in particular, has been asking where she is for years. Remini is ex-Scientology, and more importantly, a friend of Shelly Miscavige.

Remini has been extremely vocal about Shelly’s whereabouts since she left the organization in 2013, going so far as to file a Missing Persons Report in Los Angeles and had a letter that she gave to LAPD to hand to Shelly if they were able to make contact with her.

In a viral Twitter thread from November 2022, Remini alleged that LAPD was complicit in the cover-up of Shelly’s disappearance:

Her contention is that Cory Palka, who was in the division where she filed the Missing Persons Report, is now under investigation for providing confidential information to CBS executives, is it so far-fetched that he would also leak confidential information to Scientology officials as well?

The Scientology ties to LAPD go deep due to hiring off-duty cops as security, and donations to LAPD charities according to Remini. She met directly with Palka to discuss the Missing Persons case. When she did, there was a letter thanking for his help with “Scientology matters” on his desk in her plain view. Yikes.

LAPD issued a statement regarding Remini’s allegations toward’s Palaka’s involvement in the Shelly Miscavige’s Missing Persons Case:

In 2014, Los Angeles Police Department detectives assigned to the Missing Persons Unit (MPU) went to Shelly Miscavige’s location and personally made contact with her and her attorney. Detectives found her to be alive and safe, and subsequently closed the missing persons investigation.

The Missing Persons Unit handles adult missing cases throughout the City of Los Angeles and work out of LAPD’s Detective Bureau. This case was not investigated by Hollywood Division personnel and had no involvement by retired LAPD Commander Corey Palka.

In addition to its ties to the LAPD, Scientology is extremely prevalent (and many would say powerful) within the entertainment industry. Remini herself has claimed to have been blacklisted in the industry after speaking out against the institution. That’s probably why you can hear every ounce of air being sucked out of the room the second Carmichael’s Golden Globes joke lands.

If you don’t live in Los Angeles, this may seem a little far-fetched because how often are you encountering Scientology in your everyday life? As someone who lived in L.A. for over seven years, it’s very prevalent, especially in the Hollywood and East Hollywood neighborhoods. My old apartment used to get mailers from them at least monthly, even a weird Christmas catalog one year with extremely overpriced L. Ron Hubbard books. Now that I’m outside the L.A. bubble, I haven’t seen sight nor sound of an offer of a free e-meter reading, so typing this all out seems a bit unhinged, and I think perhaps that may be the point, if you’ve been thinking the same thing.

Shelly Miscavige, if she is alive, is 61 years old. To be clear, we have no reason to think she is not alive. It is highly suspicious that a woman who was a highly visible member of a highly visible religion, with a number of highly visible members (Hi Tom Cruise, loved you in Maverick, hated you jumping on a couch, in retrospect, really enjoyed you berating Matt Lauer and telling him he was glib) just suddenly one day, stopped being highly visible and hasn’t been seen by a member of the general public, since. Isn’t it a lot easier, especially in the social media age, to just pop a video on the platform of your choice? “Hi! I’m OK, please stop asking about me, I’d like privacy, and I appreciate the concern, but enough is enough.” Surely that would satisfy everyone, and the entire issue could be put to rest.

All I can say is, if anything happened to my friend, I would absolutely do what Leah Remini is doing, and I hope my close friends would do the same for me.

(image: Rich Polk/NBC)

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