The Stench of Tom Cruise

“We didn’t do any press when all the things were going down with Tom Cruise, because you didn’t want to be in a headline with him and start getting that Tom Cruise stink on you,” says Matt Stone.

He’s referring of course to the controversial Emmy-nominated episode of “South Park,” “Trapped in the Closet,” that slaps around Cruise and his beliefs on Scientology. The episode will air again July 19.

Stone and “South Park” co-creator Trey Parker took the stage at the TV critics press tour today to talk about the 10th anniversary of the show.

Of course, all we wanted to talk about was the Cruise episode.

Despite the jeopardy of getting some Cruise stink on them, we wanted to know if it was true that Isaac Hayes gave up his role as Chef because they took aim at his religion of Scientology.

Parker says Hayes asked that they not do the episode. They did the episode. They heard he was going to quit over it. They weren’t surprised when he did. But he was surprised when Hayes started attacking them

“Chef hasn’t been a big part of the show for years, ” Parker said. “So we thought he quit, that’s the end of it. Then he called us bigots and we thought, wow, you thought the show was fine until now and suddenly we are bigots?

“So, game on mother (word they can’t even say on ‘South Park’).”

And the boys are really tweaked about the Mohammed episode last season. The network refused to let them show Mohammed after the uproar with the Dutch cartoon lead to threats of violence.

“Four years ago, we showed Mohammed could turn himself into Superbeaver, and that episode has rerun on Comedy Central and in syndication, but now we can’t?” Parker said. “So a new taboo was created out of nothing.”

And Stone pointed out that “South Park” could show Jesus defecating on President Bush, and any number of outrageous things, but not show a picture of Mohammed.

“It’s open season on Jesus,” Parker says sarcastically. “You can do anything to Jesus on TV.”

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