Hayes Shafts ‘South Park’

A controversy that began with an upset Isaac Hayes has escalated into a battle for control of the Earth. What hath Scientology wrought?

Hayes revived his musical career with the help of his cartoon counterpart, Chef, on Comedy Central’s “South Park.” He recently left the show citing “intolerance and bigotry.” Hayes, a Scientologist, was rumored to be upset over a recent episode making light of the religion. It prompted one of the show’s creators to respond that Hayes had no problems cashing checks when the show spoofed Christianity.

His character, “Chef,” still makes his return in the March 22nd season premiere marking the show’s 10th year of offering equal opportunity offense. Chances are, Hayes will not be doing the vocals.

The plot line revolves around the school cafeteria cook’s “reappearance” and efforts to “save” him from his “strange behavior,” according to a Comedy Central press statement.

“South Park” creators Trey Stone and Matt Parker are notorious for quickly turning around episodes based on actual events, in some cases within one to two weeks.

What makes the potential of a post-Isaac Hayes “Chef” episode intriguing is the public war of words played out between Hayes and the show’s creators after Comedy Central rescheduled an airing of an episode titled “Trapped in the Closet.” The episode, that originally aired in November with little fuss, lampooned Scientology and its most famous adherent, Tom Cruise.

“Trapped in the Closet” was pulled from the schedule with no explanation. But rumors quickly circulated that Cruise himself had threatened to not promote his upcoming Paramount film “Mission Impossible: 3” if the episode aired. Paramount is owned by Viacom, as is Comedy Central. Reps for both Cruise and Paramount denied the story.

Those denials didn’t stop Parker and Stone from issuing their own tongue-in-cheek statement:.

“So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for Earth has just begun!” the pair wrote. “Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!”