After bonding in the ballroom, Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Kirstie Alley had a very public feud — still disagreeing months before her untimely passing in December 2022.
The twosome met on season 12 of Dancing With the Stars, making it to the finals on the ABC dance competition in 2011. One year later, they reunited for the All-Stars season of the series.
Things took a turn, however, when Leah Remini joined the cast of DWTS for season 17 after the King of Queens actress publicly left Scientology. While she wasn’t partnered with Chmerkovskiy, the twosome became friends the same year that Alley called Remini a “bigot” for her remarks about the church. (Alley was an active Scientologist during her career.)
“I thought we had a great relationship and if it was something else or not, I don’t know. But I got a message that now that I’m associating with other people that she can’t be associated with, I am no longer to be spoken with, and sorry, but that is what it is,” Chmerkovskiy said on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen in 2014, noting that he doesn’t believe in “science fiction.”
Chmerkovskiy, who was also rumored to be linked to Remini’s bestie Jennifer Lopez at the time, declined to name names at the time. “I love people. I don’t judge them … my best friend is Muslim,” he added. “I just feel like, you know, it’s sad that we’ve gone through so much together, and I feel like I’ve helped her and this is where we’re at now, but I still think the world of her and I wish her the best.”
Alley posted a controversial response at the time, writing via Twitter: “Dear Sir..after you have ass raped me there is really no reason to include ‘I wish you the best’ … It’s rhetorical.”
Chmerkovskiy further opened up about the situation during an interview with Us Weekly in 2016.
“Scientology happened,” he responded when asked “what happened” to their friendship. “You can thank Leah Remini for that. A note was sent to a friend telling me I was ‘disconnected,’ as in, I am no longer allowed to be Kirstie’s friend. I find it ridiculous for an adult human being to ‘disconnect’ from someone. But everyone is entitled to their own insanity.”
Years later, Chmerkovskiy and Remini went at it with Alley after the Cheers alum posted about the war in Ukraine.
“I don’t know what’s real or what is fake in this war,” Alley tweeted in February 2022. “So I won’t be commenting. I’ll pray instead.”
Chmerkovskiy, who was in his native country when Russia invaded Ukraine, noted that the pair hadn’t “spoken in a while” but asked Alley to bring the “same energy” she did to help Hurricane Sandy victims years prior. “No one needs your prayer if you don’t know what’s real or fake,” he added.
Then Remini got involved via Instagram: “So @KirstieAlley can comment on things she knows nothing about like mental health, psychiatric drugs, and virology, but she won’t comment on Putin who is an evil tyrant? No comment about Russia invading Ukraine? The killing of innocent people? The displacement of Ukrainians? … Scientologists aren’t allowed to believe in anything else other than Scientology. So who is she praying to?”
“Almost Time to take off the gloves. I have a curtesy policy to not publicly reveal secrets about other celebs, but I’m done with the public lies and covert jabs. And not so covert,” Alley fired back at the time. “Don’t get too excited🤣🤣🤣🤣there are only two… but two too many never the less. One shoots her mouth off and has an IQ of about 75 and the other one like you to think he’s a hero … gotta plot this out.”
Less than one year later, news broke that Alley had died following a secret battle with colon cancer. Chmerkovskiy released a statement about their bumpy relationship at the time, writing in part: “I remember how absolutely wild you were and I start to tear up. Something you’d absolutely hate. And now I can’t help but smile because I remembered exactly what you wanted me to say at your funeral. Don’t think I can do it here … I thought you’d be around forever. I wish we spoke often. Thank you for everything. I love you Kirstie Alley.”
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Scroll through for a timeline of Chmerkovskiy and Alley’s feud: