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The real reason you don't hear from Kirstie Alley anymore

Back in the 1980s, Kirstie Alley was a newcomer to Hollywood who probably surprised herself with her own success. She left the Midwest to see if she could hack it in Los Angeles, and with no real industry connections or formal training, she managed to break into the entertainment business and land a role in a beloved franchise. She began making a name for herself as Saavik in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and a few years later, she began playing Rebecca Howe on the hit sitcom Cheers, which became one of the most popular TV series of all time. 

Alley was bold, brash, and lively. Sure, she had a tendency of putting her foot in her mouth every once in a while, but she was consistently funny and undeniably talented. It seemed like she had everything going for her, but she's not exactly riding a career high anymore. She hasn't appeared in a film since 2015, and she's gone from winning awards on critically acclaimed shows to being a reality TV contestant. In fact, her most recent "role" was as a celebrity panelist on To Tell the Truth.

Why does Alley's career seem to be in decline, and is she hoping to turn things around? Here's how Alley's reputation has taken a hit over the past few years, why that's lead to a lack of opportunities, and why we don't hear from her anymore.

Kirstie Alley has money on her mind

Alley will be the first to admit that she got lucky when she was offered the role of Saavik in The Wrath of Khan. Aside from appearing on a couple of game shows, she had essentially zero professional acting experience at that point. "I had not ever had an acting role," Alley told StarTrek.com. "I didn't walk around telling people I was an aspiring actress. Because who isn't, in Hollywood?"

In addition, an unexpected tragedy occurred in the middle of Alley's audition process. Her mother was killed in a car accident, and her father was seriously injured. After hearing the news, she was in no hurry to take on the role. Instead, she wanted to be home with her dad, and she told the producers that she couldn't commit to the film until she knew he would be okay. Thankfully, they agreed to wait for her. Against all odds, her dad recovered, and she joined the cast of The Wrath of Khan

But when Alley was given the chance to play Saavik again in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, she turned it down because she wasn't satisfied with the paycheck. Yes, this happened back in the 1980s, but many great actors are willing to take pay cuts for prime opportunities. Sometimes, it's a strategic career move, and it seems Alley's decision didn't exactly pay off.

Her sitcom was axed

In 2014, it seemed like things were really looking up for Alley. She was starring in her own sitcom, Kirstie, with a promising cast that included Michael Richard and Rhea Perlman. Alley starred as Maddie Banks, a Broadway star who reconnects with her son after the death of his adopted mother. But sadly, the series was short-lived, and Kirstie was cancelled after only one season. Despite the cast, it didn't quite pull in the viewers or ratings that the network was initially hoping for. 

Granted, Alley had starred in other TV shows in the past. After being part of the ensemble cast of Cheers, she went on to star in Veronica's Closet, which enjoyed positive reception for the first two of its three seasons. But Kirstie wasn't a hit with audiences. This probably ended up hurting her future prospects, as it showed executives that she just didn't have the same draw for casual viewers that she did back in her heyday. 

Scream Queens didn't survive

In 2016, it looked like Alley might have another chance at a career boost. She landed a recurring role on the series Scream Queens, a horror-comedy that was generating some positive buzz. Unfortunately, it was like taking one step forward and two steps back. Alley joined the cast in the second season, but the show was not renewed for a third. Scream Queens just couldn't keep its momentum. The show started off strong in the first season, but it lost direction as it continued. 

There have been some rumors floating around about Scream Queens returning for a third season in the future. Ryan Murphy, who co-created the series with Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, has hinted at the possibility of a revival, but he hasn't mentioned bringing Alley back for it. So far, it seems like only the main cast members like Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, and Billie Lourd would definitely be asked to return. This was probably Alley's most high-profile role in a while, but if the series does come back, it doesn't look like she'll be a part of it. 

Kirstie Alley is getting no love from critics

By the time the '90s rolled around, Alley was raking in award nominations left and right. She was proving that she wasn't just a pretty face who'd benefited from a stroke of good luck. She may have stumbled into acting without serious preparation, but she was a natural in front of the camera. She won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her work on Cheers, and she scooped up another Emmy a few years later for her role as Sally Goodson in the made-for-TV movie David's Mother.

But Alley's performances over the past three decades just haven't garnered the same attention from critics. In fact, she hasn't gotten a single nomination for a major award since 1998, when she was up for both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for Veronica's Closet. Perhaps the quality of her performances just hasn't been quite the same, or maybe she hasn't chosen projects where she can really shine. Either way, she hasn't been able to win back the critics' favor.

Kirstie Alley has been picking public fights

Tom Cruise and John Travolta aren't the only celebrities who call themselves Scientologists. Alley is also a member of the controversial church. In fact, diving deeper into Scientology was one of the reasons she moved to Los Angeles in the first place. 

But being a proud Scientologist hasn't exactly helped her public image. Alley got into a nasty spat with former Scientologist Leah Remini, an actress who harshly criticizes the organization she grew up in and works to expose the corruption that goes on behind the scenes. Alley called Remini a "bigot," and she claimed that Remini was generalizing the entire religion. She even went so far as to call Remini her "enemy." Despite the backlash, Remini has remained firm in her stance against Scientology and continues to speak out against the church. Outside of certain celebrity circles, it seems like no one really has a favorable view of Scientology, and Alley's status as a member probably works against her. 

She has controversial political views

Alley has never been one to hold back on her opinions, even when she knows that what she's about to say won't be popular. In 2015, Alley openly supported Donald Trump in the US presidential election, telling her Twitter followers, "I like Trump … fire at will." She was one of the few women in Hollywood who wanted Trump to win, and when her fans derided her for it, she brushed off the criticism with a few insults of her own.

Eventually, Alley did rescind her support, but not until that infamous Access Hollywood tape dropped. After that, she declined to support anyone in the race, saying, "I hate this election, and I'm no longer endorsing either candidate." At a time when many of her fellow actors were openly against the idea of a Trump victory, her support for the future president definitely didn't help her make any new friends in Hollywood. 

Kirstie Alley is putting family first

Alley has been trying to spend more time with her family these days. For many actors, balancing work and family time becomes more important later in their careers. In 2016, Alley became a grandma, and she immediately fell in love with the new addition to her family, Waylon Tripp Parker. Alley proudly shared photos of her grandson, saying that spending time with him was "bliss."

But over the past couple years, Alley has also had to be there for family in the wake of tragedy. Her daughter Lillie's fiance, Nick Trela, died in a motorcycle accident in November 2014. "It's the worst thing that ever happened in our lives," Alley said on an episode of The Howard Stern Show. "He was clearly one of the most awesome men I have ever met in my life." In the aftermath of such an awful event, Alley knew her daughter needed her more than ever. Although the accident happened a few years ago, the grieving process doesn't stop overnight. 

She's cutting friendly ties

Why do so many people refer to Scientology as a cult? Well, it's not just bias. The organization does exert control over who their members can and can't talk to, and Kirstie Alley has chosen to cut off friends because of their ties to Scientology critics. While it's true that a disproportionate number of celebrities seem to be Scientologists, there are still far more who want nothing to do with it, so walking away from these relationships has only served to make Alley more unpopular. She's lost people that she was close to because of differing beliefs about Scientology. 

For example, when Alley competed on season 12 of Dancing With the Stars, she was partnered up with Maksim Chmerkovskiy. The two became friends over the course of the season, and they kept in touch after it ended. But when Leah Remini competed on the show in 2013, Chmerkovskiy also became friends with her, and when Alley caught wind of this, she dropped Chmerkovskiy immediately. 

Chmerkovskiy slammed Alley for ending their friendship over Scientology. "A note was sent to a friend telling me I was 'disconnected,' as in, I am no longer allowed to be Kirstie's friend," he told US Magazine. "I find it ridiculous for an adult human being to 'disconnect' from someone. But everyone is entitled to their own insanity."

Kirstie Alley is no fan of #MeToo

In 2017, women in Hollywood began speaking up about the awful treatment they'd endured at the hands of some of the most powerful people in the entertainment industry. Abuse and exploitation were rampant, and some producers, actors, and directors had been getting away with it for years. While the women who added their voices to the #MeToo movement did get plenty of support from other celebrities and the general public, some were met with backlash and suspicion.

Unfortunately, Alley wasn't about to come to their defense. In fact, she took to Twitter to share her criticism of the movement, asking, "We now live in a country where people lose their jobs when accused of something without proof or trial or in some cases with anonymous accusers?" Needless to say, plenty of women were disappointed in Alley after her comments, and she faced some subsequent backlash of her own. Former fans of Alley's felt that she was victim blaming in an attempt to defend her friend Matt Lauer, the NBC Today show co-host who was fired from his position after women from the network exposed his predatory behavior. Honestly, Alley might want to work on finding better friends.

She's been rejected from roles

Throughout her career, Alley has publicly struggled with her weight. She's faced endless scrutiny in the tabloids after gaining a few pounds, and at one point, she even starred in her own semi-autobiographical TV show, Fat Actress, which chronicled her attempts to lose weight so she could start landing the roles she wanted again. The show ran for one season in 2005. 

However, her dilemma wasn't entirely dramatized for the show. Alley says that casting directors really did pass over her after she gained weight. She knew that she was being judged by her appearance rather than her acting ability, and she was understandably frustrated. Alley credits her commitment to Jenny Craig for getting her back on track, and she became a spokesperson for the company. Her willingness to address the experience of being scrutinized for her weight in Hollywood actually made her come across as more endearing and relatable, but overall, it seems like the negative judgment held her back. 

She's not the best at the box office

Even when Alley was at a high point in her career, she still had some weak spots. She was definitely a star on the small screen with Cheers, but when it came to film, her performances didn't really put people in seats. For whatever reason, her talents just didn't translate as well to this medium, and casting directors took notice. Yes, she kicked off her career with a supporting role in a Star Trek film, and granted, Look Who's Talking made a lot of money. But for the most part, Alley's films didn't really set the box office on fire. We're looking at you, For Richer or Poorer.

This didn't stop Alley from trying, of course, and she felt motivated to prove critics wrong and appear in more successful films. "There was a certain person at Universal Pictures, who shall remain nameless, who told me … that I was a great actress but not great box office," she told The Morning Call. "It was the meanest, weirdest thing anybody has said to me. I walked out of his office thinking, 'I want revenge!'" But at this point, it's been four years since she appeared in a movie, and it seems like she's accepted that she's a better fit for TV. 

Kirstie Alley isn't ready for retirement yet

So what's on Alley's plate as far as future projects? As of right now, she has nothing officially lined up, and if she is signed on to anything in particular, she hasn't announced it yet. But that doesn't mean she's throwing in the towel and getting ready to retire. In fact, there is one role she wouldn't mind playing again: Rebecca on Cheers.

Although there are no real plans for a Cheers revival right now, Alley has said that she would be open to the idea, under one condition. "I want a Cheers reunion, as long as it's not taken up as a subject," she told Entertainment Tonight. "It really has to be just another show. It can't be a very special moment or fantasy island or something." Will Alley get her wish one day? Only time will tell. Of course, other members of the original cast would have to be interested as well. But perhaps bringing back Cheers would put Kirstie Alley in the spotlight once again.