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James Hibberd

Doing God's Work

July 13, 2006 6:13 PM

“South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone broke their silence about their recent battles with Comedy Central over a pair of controversial episodes. The duo said they believe Tom Cruise was responsible for pressuring Comedy Central parent Viacom to pull the Scientology-bashing episode “Trapped in the Closet” from reruns and said the show would likely have never aired at all if not for their rapid one-week production cycle.

“If it sat on the shelf for a couple months, it never would have made it on the air,” Parker said.

The episode was nominated for an outstanding animation program Emmy last week. Parker and Stone said they submitted that episode for Emmy consideration specifically because the network had vowed not to rerun it.

“I don’t think it was our best show of the last year,” Parker said.

Stone agreed. “We did it to be dicks.”

But the duo said the controversy almost certainly gained the episode fans among Emmy voters, who they said are tired of “the Tom Cruise stink.”

“You can’t pick [topics] where people in this town are more on your side [than Tom Cruise and Scientology],” Parker said.

After the episode ran, they said they received no response the Church of Scientology. “They have a reputation for intimidating people, but I think that’s all bullshit,” Parker said. “I think the press made that … and they enjoy that reputation.”

Parker and Stone seemed perplexed that the Scientology episode caused so much controversy, but another controversy last season – Comedy Central blacking out a deliberately inoffensive-looking image of the Prophet Muhammad – barely made a media ripple.

Comedy Central President Doug Herzog said that, in retrospect, they might have “overreacted.”

“It was a judgment call made by a big media company,” Herzog said. “We would have liked to have [run the complete episode].”

In another noteworthy episode last season, the character Cartman relentlessly mocked Fox’s “The Family Guy,” saying the animated hit has no sense of character, storytelling and is a stream of lame pop culture jokes without context.

“After that episode aired, we got flowers from ‘The Simpson’s,” Stone said. “We got calls from ‘King of the Hill’ saying ‘you are doing God’s work.’ So it’s not just our opinion.”


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