Confused by the messy melee this week involving South Park, Isaac Hayes, Scientology, and Tom Cruise?
There are many burning questions: Did Comedy Central yank this week’s scheduled rerun of the Cruise- and Scientology-spoofing ”Trapped in the Closet” episode in deference to Hayes or under pressure from fellow Scientologist Cruise? Did Cruise threaten not to publicize Paramount’s summer tentpole movie Mission: Impossible 3 if Comedy Central (like Paramount, a division of Viacom) aired the episode again?
We don’t know, but maybe this timeline will help you untangle the events and decide for yourself:
Nov. 16, 2005 The ”Trapped in the Closet” episode airs for the first time. In anticipation of the episode, Radar Online asks whether the episode poses any problems for Viacom or Cruise. Reps for Paramount and Cruise decline to comment, but Comedy Central spokesman Tony Fox says Trey Parker and Matt Stone ”are free and have been free to satirize anybody and anything they want to. They’ve made fun of MTV, they’ve made fun of Viacom, they’ve made fun of Comedy Central, and we’ve never interfered with them.”
Jan. 4, 2006 The Onion’s A.V. Club publishes an interview with Hayes, in which he disputes Parker and Stone’s take on Scientology, but defends their right to lampoon any target. ”I understand what they’re doing,” he says, laughing.
Jan. 20 ”Trapped” is yanked from England’s Paramount channel; U.K. tabloid The Sun claims the decision was made out of fear of litigation from Cruise.
Early 2006 Comedy Central schedules South Park‘s Season 10 premiere for March 22.