From today’s NYT:
Chef Returns to ‘South Park,’ With a Difference
“South Park” lost its Chef last week when Isaac Hayes, who voiced for the character for nine years, quit, saying he could no longer stomach the show’s treatment of religion. But the creators of “South Park,” Matt Stone and Trey Parker, have acted fast: tomorrow’s episode, the first of the 10th season, will feature “the triumphant homecoming of school chef, Jerome McElroy,” Comedy Central announced. (Yes, that is Chef’s name, as diligent fans know.) Stan, Kenny, Kyle and Cartman are happy to have him back, but “they notice that something about Chef seems different,” according to the statement. The episode, titled “The Return of Chef!,” will be on at 10 p.m. Eastern time. A spokesman for Comedy Central said there was no word on who would do Chef’s voice.
Matt Stone and Trey Parker are the hardest working men in show business—Isaac Hayes quit South Park last week, and they’ve turned around a half-hour animated show mocking his departure? Hopefully Scientology will play a role in the new episode, just as it played a role in Hayes’ decision to quit the show.
There’s more—lots more, and very creepy more—on Hayes’ departure at Defamer. It seems that his decision to leave the show in the wake of the Scientology/Tom Cruise mocking “Trapped in the Closet” episode may not have been entirely his. Hayes recently suffered a stroke, and is at home recovering. Fox News reports…
Friends in Memphis tell me that Hayes did not issue any statements on his own about South Park. They are mystified. “Isaac’s been concentrating on his recuperation for the last two and a half, three months,â€ť a close friend told me.
Hayes did not suffer paralysis, but the mild stroke may have affected his speech and his memory. He’s been having home therapy since it happened.
While a right hemisphere stroke has been know to cause behavioral changes such as “lack of concern about situations, impulsivity, inappropriateness,” it would also play the kind of cognitive neurological havoc on the brain that impairs one’s ability to, say, compose an extremely lucid, soundbite-friendly statement on the evils of criticizing one’s “religious beliefs.” It’s enough to make you think this message may have been composed for him, perhaps by the same team of handlers who abducted Hayes from the evil clutches of his neurological rehabilitation treatment program, replacing it with their far more effective vitamins-and-heating-pad-on-your-head stroke-Thetan-reducing technique.
Even if Hayes did leave the show of his own free will, and if he did compose that press release, the NYT shouldn’t characterize his departure from South Park as a dispute over “the show’s treatment of religion.” As Stone and Parker pointed out the day he quit, Hayes didn’t have a problem cashing checks when the show made fun—sometimes viscious fun—of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Mormonism.
Anyhoo, the new episode is on tomorrow night at ten on Comedy Central. See it the first time it airs because if Tom Cruise doesn’t like it you may not be able to see it again.