South Park declares war on Tom Cruise

Cartoon's parody of Scientology is taken off air, prompting accusations of censorship

He has defeated enemy fighter pilots and alien forces. But now Tom Cruise faces his most dangerous foe ever: a foul-mouthed foursome of pre-teens.

If that seems sort of humiliating, wait for the rest. While the children are no more real than the mechanical invaders in War of the Worlds, Cruise's campaign to crush them is far from fictional. It's Tom Cruise vs South Park. And it promises to be fun.

South Park is the less than respectful television animation series that has sustained its popularity for a decade because of its fearless satirising of anyone and everyone. It drew headlines early last week, however, when musician Isaac Hayes, who since 1997 has been the voice of Chef, suddenly upped and left in a huff.

Hayes declared that South Park, which follows the hell-raising of the four kids, had gone too far in its lampooning of religion. Specifically, he was cross about its recent mocking of the Church of Scientology. Hayes is a Scientologist. So is Cruise.

The departure of Hayes created some publicity for the show and its creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. But now things are even more interesting. Comedy Central, the channel that broadcasts it in the US, was scheduled to air a repeat of the episode that had so upset Hayes on Wednesday night. But then, suddenly, it didn't.

South Park fans cried censorship. Why had Comedy Central yanked the episode? They now think they have the answer: Tom Cruise is the culprit. According to several Hollywood websites, he used his considerable Tinseltown influence to muzzle the show.

Parker and Stone are not taking this lying down. "So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!" the two said in a statement that seemed to parody Scientology as science fiction. "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!!!"

But for the epic battle, Cruise has a secret weapon. It is alleged that he threatened to withdraw from any promotional activity for his next film, Mission: Impossible III, out on 5 May. The movie has been made by Paramount, which is owned by Viacom. And Viacom owns Comedy Central.

In the controversial episode, one of the characters, Stan, takes a Scientology test and scored so highly that disciples of the religion are crowding his home declaring him their new leader. And, wouldn't you know it, Cruise is there too, waiting in Stan's bedroom. He asks Stan what he thinks of his acting. Stan is not kind, and a deeply offended Cruise hides in the bedroom closet. Then the episode veers into the territory of Cruise's sexuality. Stan begs him to come out of the closet. About 40 times.

Everyone involved is denying everything, of course. Comedy Central says it pulled the episode so it could run two episodes featuring Chef as a tribute to Hayes. Paramount says Cruise never made threats. And Cruise, through a spokesman, said the same.

And no one believes a word of it. The Los Angeles Times dubbed the flap Closetgate. "For Stone and Parker, Closetgate will be the gift that keeps on giving," it said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
science
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
News
Comedian Ted Robbins collapsed on stage during a performance of Phoenix Nights Live at Manchester Arena (Rex)
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links