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March 13, 2006
Chef Gets Huffy, Leaves South Park

Isaac Hayes has left South Park and his role of Chef, one of the original characters in the series. Hayes says that he disapproves of the religious mockery that has long been part of the show, but the show's creators have declared shenanigans on Hayes:

Isaac Hayes has quit "South Park," where he voices Chef, saying he can no longer stomach its take on religion.

Hayes, who has played the ladies' man/school cook in the animated Comedy Central satire since 1997, said in a statement Monday that he feels a line has been crossed.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and outspoken Scientologist said.

"Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

After nine seasons of foul-mouthed riffs on God, religion, molesting Catholic priests, the Mormon testament, and the Jews, Hayes has suddenly discovered that poking fun at religion is disrespectful? Has he even watched the show?

Matt Stone, one of the two creators, says that Hayes never mentioned any reservations about participating in this satire -- at least until the satire hit too close to home:

"South Park" co-creator Matt Stone responded sharply in an interview with The Associated Press Monday, saying, "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

Last November, "South Park" targeted the Church of Scientology and its celebrity followers, including actors
Tom Cruise and John Travolta, in a top-rated episode called "Trapped in the Closet." In the episode, Stan, one of the show's four mischievous fourth graders, is hailed as a reluctant savior by Scientology leaders, while a cartoon Cruise locks himself in a closet and won't come out.

That episode was easily one of the best of the series, with a number of laugh-out-loud moments. The funniest part of it was the credits at the end, which changed all the names of the cast and crew to either John Smith or Jane Smith after Stan defiantly told the Scientologists that they didn't scare him. I wondered at the time whether Stone and his partner Trey Parker would receive any real threats or complaints. I never expected to hear one of their own cast members, one who had delightfully joined with Stone and Parker in satirizing a whole range of faiths, complain about their humor.

It seems that Chef can't take what he dishes out.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 13, 2006 8:43 PM

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