"C'mon Jews," the ad exhorted, "show them who really runs Hollywood." Hint: It's not Mel Gibson.
In Tuesday's full-page ad in Daily Variety, placed by Comedy Central, the answer is clear from the cartoon showing "South Park" characters next to the Scientology headquarters.
Though the ad appears to be a humorous and timely takeoff on Gibson's widely reported tirade against Jews during last week's arrest in a drunk driving case, the timing is "pure coincidence," Comedy Central spokesman Tony Fox said Tuesday.
In fact, the ad congratulates "South Park" on its Emmy nomination for the episode "Trapped in the Closet" and refers to another controversy altogether -- the still unresolved question of whether Tom Cruise influenced Comedy Central to pull a scheduled rerun of the Scientology-satirizing episode in March.
"It's a little bit of an inside joke at our expense for pulling the Scientology episode," Fox said.
"South Park" creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have said they submitted that particular episode for Emmy consideration as a reproof to executives who initially refused to re-air the show, originally televised last November. Now it will compete for best animated program at the Emmy's creative arts ceremony Aug. 19.
Though Cruise was widely rumored to have asked that the episode not be replayed -- an allegation he denied -- Fox said: "We've never commented on that.... We were aware the 'South Park' guys were unhappy. We told them we would put it back on the air."
"Trapped in the Closet" re-aired last week for the first time.
Fox said Tuesday's ad is in the Comedy Central tradition of being "topical and a bit of a thumb in your eye." Still, it wasn't as topical as it appeared, since the ad was designed and approved weeks before Gibson's arrest on Friday, he said.
"South Park" previously made fun of Gibson's film "The Passion of the Christ" in an episode called "The Passion of the Jew." In that show, the characters visit Gibson at home when they can't get their money back at the box office.