Scientology vs. ‘South Park’ : The Tom Cruise Episode Controversy

Comedy Central Series Creators Quip ‘Battle’ Has Just Begun

March 17, 2006 — Did the fate of “Mission Impossible 3” rest in the hands of some sarcastic cartoon school kids?

Rumors have been circulating that Tom Cruise used his mega-star power and his role in promoting the upcoming blockbuster film to halt the rerun of a “South Park” episode that pokes fun at both his sexual orientation and religion.

Cable’s Comedy Central had planned to air the episode “Trapped in a Closet” Wednesday night, but then pulled it from its lineup after cast member and fellow Scientologist Isaac Hayes quit the show.

The episode, which first aired last year, featured a caricature of Cruise being coaxed to come out of a closet by Nicole Kidman.

The trade newspaper Daily Variety then reported rumblings that Cruise made an ultimatum — drop the episode or he would be a no-show on all interviews and promotions for his upcoming action flick “Mission Impossible 3.” The third installment of the blockbuster series is due out in August from Paramount, which is owned by the same company that oversees Comedy Central.

Cruise’s reps flatly refute the claim.

“Tom Cruise had nothing to do whatsoever [with the episode being pulled],” said spokesman Paul Bloch. “Tom Cruise for the last six or eight months has been promoting Mission Impossible 3 — there’s been no change — so that’s a totally erroneous story.”

It’s still unclear exactly why the episode was yanked. Comedy Central declined to comment, but “South Park”‘s creators believe the Scientologists were involved.

Trey Parker and Matt Stone sent a letter to Variety saying: “So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! … You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail!”

Perhaps the kids of “South Park” will have the final word.

A high-ranking executive at Comedy Central wouldn’t comment on the pulling of the episode but hinted that a response is on the way, saying a new episode of the show is due out next week. “Let’s see what happens,” the exec said.

ABC Radio’s David Blaustein and’s Nancy Chandross contributed to this report

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Mar. 17, 2006

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday March 18, 2006.
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