Sometimes, timing is everything.
Whether it meant to or not, a certain full-page advertisement on the back cover of Daily Variety featuring the four main South Park kids is going to remind people of Mel Gibson just the same.
The Tuesday ad depicts Cartman, Kyle, Stan and Kenny standing in front of a building that's supposed to be L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology Celebrity Centre, underneath the tagline, "C'mon, Jews?show them who really runs Hollywood."
While it isn't hard to imagine why Comedy Central has a funny bone to pick with the Church of Scientology, the ad's appearance just a few days after Gibson dinged his reputation by spewing anti-Semitic remarks while being arrested for drunken driving seems too well timed to be true.
And it is, according to Comedy Central.
Since it was designed weeks before, "it was really just a coincidence," network spokesman Tony Fox told E! Online. "We're not above making a clever inside joke at our own expense. We have a sense of humor even about ourselves. With all of our ads we try to have a little edge."
The copy was written by Stephen Kamsler, who also created a Daily Show ad in June that read: "The Daily Show: We had fake news years before CBS hired Katie Couric."
The South Park spread's true purpose was to congratulate creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker for their Emmy nomination for Outstanding Animated Program. And how did Stone and Parker come by that honor? By submitting "Trapped in the Closet," the very episode that Comedy Central X-ed off its rerun schedule in March for reasons officially unknown.
Rumors circulated that the cable network bowed to pressure from Tom Cruise's camp when it yanked the episode--which poked jolly good fun at Cruise, John Travolta, R. Kelly and, now most famously, L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology--from the airwaves. At the time Cruise was busy promoting Paramount's Mission: Impossible III and, with Paramount and Comedy Central both being Viacom-owned entities, Stone told Variety at the time that the M:I:III brass wanted "Trapped in the Closet" to stay on the shelf.
A week after the temporarily shunned episode scored an Emmy nod, however, "Trapped in the Closet" was deemed fit for public consumption again and was retelevised on July 19.
And now there's this accidentally topical inside joke, which touches upon Comedy Central, Scientology, South Park and censorship--but not Mel Gibson.
According to Fox, Comedy Central would never have thought to post an ad like that in reference to Gibson's situation. But does South Park have plans to really spoof the actor, who was charged Tuesday with three DUI-related misdemeanor counts and is already standing trial in the court of public opinion?
"I doubt it," Fox said. "They never go back to the same place twice."
Gibson, of course, has already been grist for the South Park mill. Responding to the controversy over The Passion of the Christ (Gibson's flick was deemed anti-Semitic in some quarters), Stone and Parker penned "The Passion of the Jew" in 2004, in which Stan and Kenny go to see Gibson's cinematic interpretation of Jesus' last day and end up tracking the director down to demand a refund. Additionally, Kyle ends up suggesting that, as Germans did for the Holocaust, the Jewish people should apologize for what they did to Jesus--until Gibson starts acting really nutty and Kyle forgets the whole thing.
We doubt, however, that many people will be forgetting Gibson's real-life nutty behavior quite so easily.