Isaac Hayes' Son Says Someone Else Made His Dad Quit South Park

Back in 2006, singer and actor Isaac Hayes abruptly quit South Park, where he had voiced the character Chef for a decade. Hayes, an active Scientologist, was apparently upset about the episode "Trapped In The Closet", which makes fun of the cultish religion he followed. But it sounds like his departure wasn't entirely up to him. "Trapped In The Closet" aired in November 2005. In March of 2006, Hayes sent out a statement announcing his plans to leave South Park. The statement, which seemed absurd at the time, attacked the show for failing to respect and honour the "religious beliefs of others".

"As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices," the statement said.

It was preposterous, of course — the show had already gone after Christianity, Judaism and Islam with aplomb — and South Park immediately responded by airing an episode about Chef joining a cult and dying. (Instead of getting a new voice actor for Chef, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone just reused a bunch of Hayes' old lines.) It marked a sad end to Hayes' excellent run on the show. He died in 2008.

As it turns out, Hayes might have not made the decision on his own. Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter published a great oral history of South Park, and in it, there's an interesting revelation from Isaac Hayes' son:

Hayes III: Isaac Hayes did not quit South Park; someone quit South Park for him. What happened was that in January 2006 my dad had a stroke and lost the ability to speak. He really didn't have that much comprehension, and he had to relearn to play the piano and a lot of different things. He was in no position to resign under his own knowledge. At the time, everybody around my father was involved in Scientology — his assistants, the core group of people. So someone quit South Park on Isaac Hayes' behalf. We don't know who.
Stone: We sort of figured out the whole picture a bit later, but that's totally what happened.


Hayes III: My father was not that big of a hypocrite to be part of a show that would constantly poke fun at African-American people, Jewish people, gay people — and only quit when it comes to Scientology. He wouldn't be that hypocritical.
Stone: It really sucked, the whole thing. This statement put out that he was quitting, it kind of called us bigots.
Parker: But we knew in our hearts there was something way more rotten going on.

Such is the power of Scientology. Go read the full THR oral history if you're into the show — it's a fun one. Meanwhile, the new season of South Park started last night in the US, and it's already a tangled web of ridiculous plots. Gotta get those member berries.


    I did think the whole thing was farfetched. Sucks that the people closest to him would allow his career to end on such an undignified note. Definitely shows you that there are other sides to every story which completely change the way you perceive things. Glad the whole truth has been brought to light. RIP Isaac.

      I will put money down right now that we're going to see an episode soon redeeming Chef's character done in much the same way, re-cut dialogue, as his last one.

        His character was never attacked though.
        They never blame Chef, only those from the group that brainwashed him.

        It would be nice to have a Chef episode though, about him and not the unfortunate circumstances near the end.

        Last edited 16/09/16 4:21 pm

          They never gave Hayes the sendoff they gave say, Stans mums original voice, a dignified one etc. They turned his character into a pedophile granted he was brainwashed but it was still done. As they said years back, they didn't feel like doing anything good for him because they and many others were hurt and bewildered. In retrospect it was juvenile, but hey it was sure memorable. I'd love to see an episode though where the boys get contacted by Chefs ghost asking them to rescue his ashes from NAMBLA ;)

    This was pretty much assumed when it happened as Isaac's health hadn't been great for some time. Was a real shitter of a way for him to leave though. I think he would have been proud of the way Matt and Trey wrote him out though :P

      Judging from that episode, they must have been somewhat aware.

      The anger is directed at the "fruity club" that took their friend away.

    Someone quit South Park on Isaac's behalf? Well yeah, of course considering how pervasive and insidious the church of Scientology is. This is an organization that threatens, defames and stalks former members or anyone that they perceive to be a threat to them.

    In the grand scheme of things Scientology is no better or worse than any other organised religion. Sure, the celebrity connection is mucky and vacuous and makes for good tabloid tittilation such as this article, but all religions are about control and insideous shit which hurts people.

      Oh just stop, Scientology is an entirely different beast than any other religion, to compare it to anything else and say it's the same is absurd. If you go into a church 9 times out of 10 you'll have a pastor who actually cares for the people he gives his sermons to, anyone who works in Scientology is interested first and foremost in your money, regardless of what happens when they take it all.

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