Chef has cooked his last Salisbury steak on “South Park,” but the ensuing controversy continues to sizzle. Last week, Isaac Hayes announced that he would be leaving the Comedy Central hit. Co-creator Matt Stone saw it so: “This is 100 percent having to do with his faith in Scientology … (Hayes) has no problem and he’s cashed plenty of checks with our show making fun of Christians.” Nine seasons worth of checks, to be exact. Then when the Scientology-mocking episode “Trapped in the Closet” was scheduled to re-run days later, Comedy Central replaced it with an old episode mocking the Sundance Film Festival. The gossip round town – and soundly rejected by Tom Cruise’s publicist – was that uber-Scientologist Cruise had pressured the network to pull the episode. Stone and co-creator Trey Parker issued their own statement: “So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!” At this point, I realized that Parker and Stone just might be the ones to save Hollywood – from itself. The Chef-Cruise-Scientology kerfuffle comes off the heels of worldwide protests of Muhammad cartoons and the assertion by demonstrators that freedom of speech does not mean being allowed to offend, or even that freedom of speech should not be completely extended in society because it can offend. “South Park” turned offense into an art form, while almost always making a strong point. And in the Parker-Stone world, it doesn’t matter who your attorney is, how much money your last film pulled in, how much money you contribute to what political party – you may be next. “People in the entertainment industry are by and large whore-chasing drug-addict f-ups,” Parker was quoted in a 2004 interview in the book “Hollywood, Interrupted.” “Hollywood views regular people as children, and they think they’re the smart ones who need to tell the idiots out there how to be.” Hollywood targets have included Rosie O’Donnell – demanding recounts in the kindergarten class-president race in a Season Four episode because her nephew lost by a vote – and Rob Reiner, in the anti-anti-smoking lobby episode “Butt Out.” Diddy was lampooned for his “Vote or Die” campaign, and a giant Barbra Streisand monster has attacked the town. Count the episodes “Die Hippie, Die” and “Rainforest Schmainforest” among their un-PC tours de force. Parker and Stone are heroes for all of us who wonder why celebs get the kid-gloves treatment they do. George Clooney lent his voice to Sparky the gay dog in Season One, but was one of the Film Actors Guild villains skewered in “Team America: World Police.” They have also been at the forefront of skewering real-life villains, whether it was Saddam Hussein having an affair with Satan in the “South Park” movie, Kim Jong Il dunking U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix in a shark tank in “Team America” or a Season Five episode titled “Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants.” Even former CIA director James Woolsey counted himself and his family fans in a recent National Review piece: “Parker’s and Stone’s special gift is to see the pompous, the absurd, and the self-important through the eyes of the young and to caricature these with Chaplinesque comic sensibility.” The refusal to bow to any genre of political correctness has especially appealed to young conservatives and libertarians, hence the birth of the term “South Park Republican.” But it hasn’t appealed to everyone. “As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects (religious) beliefs and practices,” Hayes said. “He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show,” Stone said in statement. “To bring the civil rights struggle into this is just a non-sequitur.” There are few guarantees in a town where scripts get mired in development hell and every other waiter is a wannabe actor. But a surefire bet is that Parker and Stone will not be pushed around and will continue to call Hollywood on its hypocrisy. And that breath of fresh air is mighty enough to clear the smog out of the L.A. basin. Bridget Johnson writes for the Daily News. Contact her by e-mail at [email protected] AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!