No pity as 'South Park' hits 10 years


Published: Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Heralded by a Comedy Central news release that childishly spews an expletive in its headline, "South Park" turns 10 this fall without really growing up.
Its foul-their-nests fourth-graders, now roughly the same age as the show, continue to vex the suits at the network's mighty corporate parent, Viacom.
Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, now comfortably rich, remain unbowed if a little bruised.
"This is 'South Park.' And we absolutely rip on everyone in really horrible, terrible ways," Parker matter-of-factly told TV critics recently.
Pish-tush, it hasn't been smooth going lately.
November's "Trapped in the Closet" episode, which roasted Tom Cruise and Scientology, had been removed from "South Park's" regular repeat schedule during buildup to the star's "Mission: Impossible III," a Paramount film owned by Viacom.
In April, Comedy Central refused to let "South Park" show an image of the Islamic prophet Muhammad for fear of possibly violent reprisal.
The Cruise episode, which recently received an Emmy nomination, received an encore presentation on Comedy Central.
But Muhammad is still off limits, despite Parker's reminder that the network has been repeating a 2002 episode that depicts the prophet as a superhero who can turn into a beaver.
"I think history might show we overreacted," Comedy Central president Doug Herzog said of the latter-day Muhammad embargo.
"But we can live with that." Actually, the living is quite easy for Parker and Stone, whose show has generated a wealth of profitable merchandise from plush toys to wallpaper.
In October, they'll cash in again with "South Park the Hits: Volume 1," a collection of 10 favorite episodes, including "Trapped in the Closet."
Fans also can feast on the likes of "Red Hot Catholic Love" and "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset," the show's tribute to Paris Hilton.
Stone said "South Park" doesn't actively court controversy or publicity.
The idea is to throw an episode together in just a week's time and then simply move on to the next one without comment.
Otherwise, "You start to get that Tom Cruise stink on you, know what I mean?" he said.
Still, Scientology is "like a whole field of flowers to run around in for comedians," Stone said.
But hardly anyone dares to do so because "people don't want to die," Parker added.
The two also have had a good deal of fun twitting "Family Guy," which they despise despite its parallel popularity in the edgy cartoon universe.
"The day after that ('Family Guy') episode ended, we got flowers from 'The Simpsons,"' Parker said.
"We got calls from 'King of the Hill' saying we were doing God's work. It's not just our opinion."
All in all then, it's still a pretty wonderful life for two arrested adolescents who probably could buy and sell Rhode Island at this point.
After the session, Stone conceded the obvious: "We've had the most amazing creative freedom of all time."

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