Will 'South Park' and 'The Daily Show' have the nerve to submit the Muhammad episodes for the Emmy battle?
That fearless wag Jon Stewart just jumped into the Muslim controversy engulfing "South Park" by doing an irreverent riff on "The Daily Show." Will he soon be hit with death threats too? If so, there's this possible salvation: they could win Emmys.
That may sound ridiculous, but, OK, we're talking Comedy Central shows here, so anything goes. The recent "South Park" episodes ("200," "201") under attack for including the prophet Muhammad start out with veiled accusations that Tom Cruise may be secretly gay. That mirrors the "Trapped in the Closet" episode from season 9 nominated in the Emmy category for best animated program in 2006.
Alas, it lost to "The Simpsons" episode titled "The Seemingly Neverending Story," but the clash was obviously a close one. "South Park" and "The Simpsons" have been trading off victories in this Emmy race over the past five years with the current score — "South Park" 3, "The Simpsons" 2. But "The Simpsons" has been on TV much longer than "South Park" (21 years compared to 13) and reigns as the biggest champ in the category's history (10 wins), so "South Park" is vulnerable again.
What's curious is that "South Park" chose to submit the "Trapped in the Closet" episode to Emmy jurors over another option that TV season: the controversial segments that flirted with depicting Muhammad titled "Cartoon Wars 1" and "Cartoon Wars 2." Would the show have won with those instead?
Even if "South Park's" producers submit the current Muhammad footage to Emmy jurors and lose, "The Daily Show" could triumph in a different category for its response. Odds are much better in that case. Over the past seven years, "The Daily Show" has never lost the battle for best variety series.
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Photo: "South Park" (Comedy Central)