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Stone: It’s how a lot of people see the show. And it’s never hurt us. We’ve done nothing but been successful with the show. How could you ever get mad about somebody who wants to see your stuff?
Parker: We worked really hard making that show, and the reason you do it is because you want people to see it.
Reason: How did other people in the creative community respond to your recent controversies?
Parker: When we did the Muhammad episode, we got flowers from the Simpsons people because we ripped on Family Guy. Then we got calls from the King of the Hill people saying, “You’re doing God’s work ripping on Family Guy.” Even though it was this big political thing about Muhammad and whatever, everyone was just, “Thank you for you ripping on Family Guy.”
Reason: Are you secretly hoping that radical Islamists, who are not always the closest readers of texts, will actually think Family Guy ran an episode showing Muhammad?
Stone: Well, that’s the other big joke. We really weren’t that brave. If it did make it over to some obscure part of Pakistan, they’d be like, “Hey, we ought to kill the guys who did Family Guy.”
Reason: In the climactic scene of the episode, Kyle lectures the president of Fox that he has to stand up in favor of free speech. Is it true that the dialogue was taken directly from the conversations you had with Comedy Central about showing Muhammad?
Parker: Yes, the dialogue is almost exactly the same. We even had Kyle call him Doug, right?
Stone: Doug Herzog is the head guy over at Comedy Central.
Parker: It was very personal.
Stone: At some point I think we knew we were going to lose. We weren’t going to get Muhammad on, so we were just going to make them feel really bad about it. I mean, we’ve been at an ACLU meeting where we gave Doug an award for freedom of speech, and once you get an award for freedom of speech, you’ve got to step up to the plate.
Reason: Talk a little bit about Tom Cruise and the Scientology episode.
Parker: The quick summary is that one of the little boys, Stan, is told he should take a personality test by these people hanging out near the mall. He takes the test, and they inform him that he’s really, really unhappy, which he didn’t realize, and so they tell him all the steps he needs to go through to learn about Scientology. But then they have him do that thing they do in Scientology where they take your electrode readings and take you back in your childhood. He does that, and they realize his readings are so over the top that he must be the reincarnation of L. Ron Hubbard, so now he’s actually not just in the cult; he’s leading the cult. So everyone’s descending on South Park, and of course Tom Cruise comes as well, wanting his approval.
Reason: How did the network respond to pressure from the Church of Scientology about that episode?
Stone: They blew it off. To be fair, it wasn’t really at the Comedy Central level. It was way up at the Viacom level. [Viacom owns Comedy Central.] It wasn’t a choice or anything we had any say in. The only thing that we got was a phone call saying that the producers of Mission Impossible: 3 [which stars Cruise] want this show off the air.