Published Sep 14, 2016This week, the endlessly popular television series South Park will celebrate its 20th year with the launch of a new season. As such, there are all sorts of stories emerging from the show's history. A particularly interesting one involves Isaac Hayes' departure from the show following their anti-Scientology episode in 2005.
In their ninth season, South Park aired an episode called "Trapped in the Closet," which portrayed Tom Cruise in a negative light and poked fun at the strange beliefs of the Church of Scientology. Hayes, who voiced Chef on the show, was an avid Scientologist. He quit the show shortly after, posting an open letter to his website.
Today (September 14), The Hollywood Reporter has posted a lengthy oral history about South Park. In it, Isaac Hayes III insists that his father did not quit the show on his own volition.
Here are Hayes III's full statements about the debacle:
Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park; someone quit South Park for him. What happened was that in January 2006 my dad had a stroke and lost the ability to speak. He really didn't have that much comprehension, and he had to relearn to play the piano and a lot of different things. He was in no position to resign under his own knowledge. At the time, everybody around my father was involved in Scientology — his assistants, the core group of people. So someone quit South Park on Isaac Hayes' behalf. We don't know who.
My father was not that big of a hypocrite to be part of a show that would constantly poke fun at African-American people, Jewish people, gay people — and only quit when it comes to Scientology. He wouldn't be that hypocritical.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker corroborated Hayes III's statements. "We sort of figured out the whole picture a bit later, but that's totally what happened," Stone said. "It really sucked, the whole thing. This statement put out that he was quitting, it kind of called us bigots."
"But we knew in our hearts there was something way more rotten going on," Parker added.
Regardless, Stone and Parker completely destroyed the character of Chef in season 10, portraying him as a brainwashed pedophile before killing him off for good in "The Return of Chef."
The real-life Isaac Hayes passed away in 2008.