Isaac Hayes, chef no more: Isaac Hayes announced yesterday that he's quitting his gig as the voice of Chef on "South Park" because he objects to the show's religious satire. "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins. Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored. As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices." "South Park" co-creator Matt Stone says the split might have something to do with Hayes' belonging to the Church of Scientology. "This has nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist and that we recently featured Scientology in an episode of 'South Park,'" said Stone. "In 10 years and over 150 episodes of 'South Park,' Isaac never had a problem making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show. To bring the civil rights struggle into this is just a non sequitur. Of course we will release Isaac from his contract and we wish him well." Stone's partner Trey Parker said they'd actually put off making fun of Scientology out of respect for Hayes. But after Penn Jillette was reportedly banned from poking fun at the religion on his Showtime series "Bullshit," they decided it was time, and last November aired "Trapped in the Closet," in which one of the "South Park" kids became a Scientology savior and Tom Cruise got locked in a closet. "Finally, we just had to tell Isaac, 'Dude, we totally love working with you, and this is nothing personal, it's just we're 'South Park,' and if we don't do this, we're belittling everything else we've ripped on,'" said Parker. (Page Six)
Don't pity the Aniston: Jennifer Aniston wants it known that she doesn't need your pity. In an interview in the new issue of Vogue, Aniston says, "Don't make me your victim ... It makes my skin crawl." Despite the undoubted publicity boost her split with Brad Pitt gave her, she's exhausted by being the constant third party in the media coverage of Pitt and Angelina Jolie's relationship. "I'm so tired of being part of this sick, twisted Bermuda Triangle," she says. "All I can do is go on and live my life." As for Vince Vaughn, she simply says, "First and foremost, he's a really good, loyal friend. Fiercely loyal." (People)
The fabulist holds his job? The dust has apparently settled in the scandal at the Village Voice, and there's a surprising survivor. After writer Nick Sylvester got busted for making up parts of a cover story two weeks ago, it looked pretty certain he'd lose his job. (He was asked to leave his other job at the music Web site Pitchfork, where he got his start.) But Gawker is reporting this morning that Sylvester will keep his spot at the Voice -- and meanwhile, the paper announced that acting editor-in-chief Doug Simmons has been fired. The announcement appeared on the Voice Web site via this classy handwritten note from executive editor Michael Lacey. As to why Sylvester is still hanging on to employment, the Gawker source said, "They like him." (Gawker, Gothamist)
A judge in Los Angeles has rejected Nicole Narain's request that she be allowed to release the sex tape she made with Colin Farrell, meaning the lawsuit over the tape will go to trial, likely sometime in July. (E! Online) ... Monday's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions were kind of what you'd expect: The Sex Pistols didn't show, Lynyrd Skynyrd played "Free Bird," Ozzy Osbourne mumbled his way through an acceptance speech for Black Sabbath and there was an ugly band-feud moment when former members of Blondie tried to get up onstage to perform with Debbie Harry. (Associated Press) ... Celebrities beware, celebrity hounds rejoice: Gawker will be adding up-to-the-minute Google maps to its Gawker Stalker celebrity sightings, starting sometime Tuesday. (Lowdown) ... In what can only be seen as the unleashing of some pent-up frustration, Annie Proulx, the author of the short story "Brokeback Mountain," had a long piece on the Oscars in the Guardian over the weekend. Calling the academy voters "heffalumps" and implying that Scientology was behind the "Crash" win, Proulx writes: "And rumor has it that Lions Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of 'Trash' -- excuse me -- 'Crash' a few weeks before the ballot deadline. Next year we can look to the awards for controversial themes on the punishment of adulterers with a branding iron in the shape of the letter A, runaway slaves, and the debate over free silver." (Guardian) ... Is South by Southwest getting too big? This year the music and film conference is expecting a record 10,000 attendees -- the crowds creating gridlock in Austin -- and even event organizers are starting to question the point of the festival. (Hollywood Reporter) ... Actress Maureen Stapleton, who won an Oscar, an Emmy and a Tony during her lifetime, died on Monday at age 80. Accepting the Oscar for best actress in 1981 for her role as Emma Goodman in "Reds," Stapleton said, "I want to thank ... everybody I ever met in my entire life." (Associated Press via Hollywood Reporter)
-- Scott Lamb
For baseball fans, the Dominican Republic plays Venezuela in the second round of the first-ever "World Baseball Classic" (UPN, 7 p.m. EST), and in a very different kind of competition, Fox bets two hours on "American Idol" (8 p.m. EST). For music of another sort, fans of Bruce Springsteen can catch him and his E Street Band in an airing of their 1975 concert at Hammersmith Odeon in London (PBS, check local listings), while the hour and a half season premiere of "Nashville Star" (USA, 10 p.m. EST) gives would-be country-music pop stars their moment in the sun.
-- Joe DiMento