News & Politics

Lloyd Kaufman on Scientology and South Park: Eric Sherman Did Ask Me about Trey Parker and Matt Stone

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UPDATE: Mark Ebner adds his own confirmation of OSA activity with a similar leaked Scientology document. Also, a private investigator describes sifting trash for the Church of Scientology.

Just got off the phone with Troma Studios founder Lloyd Kaufman, who says he’s been getting a lot of calls since we reported this weekend that he is mentioned in Scientology documents which detail a retaliatory investigation of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

In 2005, Parker and Stone aired “Trapped in the Closet,” an episode of South Park that deeply embarrassed Scientology by mocking its upper-level teachings. By the spring of 2006, the formerly secret documents suggest, Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs was overseeing a multi-pronged effort to retaliate against the animators by researching their public records, digging through their trash, and doing the same to their close friends and employees. In two different documents, mention is also made that Kaufman was pumped for information with the use of a longtime Scientologist and filmmaker named Eric Sherman.

This morning, Kaufman confirmed to me that in 2006, Sherman — an old college classmate and longtime friend — did call him up to ask about Parker and Stone.

“Eric Sherman did indeed call me. Now, he was next door to me at Yale, so he’s an old friend and a good guy. And he’s a filmmaker. He did ask me about Trey and Matt, but he didn’t say anything about Scientology or that he was investigating,” Kaufman said.

When I asked Kaufman if he realized that his old friend is a longtime Scientologist, he said, “Eric is a great guy. He’s never mentioned Scientology to me.” (Sherman’s long record in the church is well documented, however.)

“All I remember is telling him that they were great guys and had reinvigorated American satire,” Kaufman added. “Eric makes movies, and I got the sense he was interested in working with them.”

Update: I should also point out that Kaufman told me that he did not give Sherman the name of any close friends to Parker and Stone. Although the OSA documents imply that Sherman turned over such names to Scientology — such as John Stamos and Rebecca Romijn — Kaufman insists that he not only didn’t give those names to Sherman, he was really unfamiliar with either of the actors.

The formerly secret OSA documents, however, suggest that Sherman was gathering information about Parker and Stone to help Scientology’s efforts to investigate the duo. We have made multiple attempts to reach Sherman and will continue to do so, but he has not replied. Parker and Stone, meanwhile, declined to be interviewed through a spokeswoman, who said they have no comment on the matter.

Kaufman is well known for Troma Studios and its low-budget satirical films such as the Toxic Avenger series, Class of Nuke ‘Em High, and the more recent Terror Firmer, which featured Trey Parker.

“Even after they became stars, Trey acted in Terror Firmer. They’ve been totally generous with their time,” Kaufman said. “I have only the greatest love and admiration for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and they’re among the most talented and admirable people in the entertainment industry. I’m glad Troma played a role in bringing them to the movie industry.” (Before South Park began, Parker’s film Cannibal! The Musical was distributed by Troma.)

I asked Kaufman about an OSA document which says that a student of Sherman, a young filmmaker, would try to use Kaufman to get an internship at South Park and become a mole for Scientology. Did he remember a young filmmaker being presented to him at that time?

“I can’t tell you how many people want me to introduce them to Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Every day people ask me about them,” Kaufman answered. He said there was no way he could remember a particular young filmmaker approaching him in 2006.

“The only point I want to make is that I love Trey and Matt, and that they’ve been totally loyal,” he said. But when I asked him about his thoughts on Scientology, he couldn’t help giving me a quip:

“They put a gag order on me. And when I woke up, Tom Cruise’s penis was in my mouth.”

Yeah, that’s Lloyd Kaufman, a treasure to the independent film industry. (And next year, he points out, will be Troma’s 40th year anniversary. I told him the Voice would definitely get back to him on that.)

He ended the conversation by telling me again how much he’s been hearing from people in the last few days. “Troma’s been around for 40 years. Samuel L. Jackson’s first movie was a Troma picture…but if I got hit by a bus today, this thing about South Park would be on my gravestone,” and he gave a laugh.

Update: Kaufman has now tweeted about this story

The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church’s HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church’s other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord

SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

Top 25 People Crippling Scientology

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing “disconnection”
Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology
Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?
Scientology hates clean ice: The “Fair Game” operation that should turn your stomach
Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

Scientology has Rathbun arrested
Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties

In Germany with Ursula Caberta:
Announcing plans
Press conference
Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair
Post-trip interview

The Squirrel Busters:
Goons with cameras on their heads
Rathbun’s open letter to neighbors
Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun’s cause
Squirrel Buster’s claim to be making a “documentary”
VIDEO: “On a Boat”
“Anna” sent to creep out Monique Rathbun
Squirrel Busters go hillbilly
A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad
Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology’s highest levels

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND “FAIR GAME”

Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley
Scientology’s West U.S. spies list revealed
Scientology’s enemies list: Are you on it?
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: Part 1 | Part 2
A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard’s remarkable public confession
Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine
Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to “handle” the Voice
Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: “No one’s going to take my eternity away”

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

“Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”
Tom Cruise likes coconut cake
Tom Cruise has a sense of humor
“Tom Cruise not a kook!”
Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise
Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church
Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily
Actor Michael Fairman reveals his “suppressive person” declaration
Michael Fairman talks to the Voice
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense
Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony
Skip Press on Haggis
Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology’s retaliation is “scary and pathetic”
Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips “the business that is Scientology”

Grant Cardone, NatGeo’s “Turnaround King”:

Doing Scientology’s dirty work?
Milton Katselas complained about Cardone’s smear job
Cardone runs to Huffpo

JANET REITMAN’S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

Our review of Inside Scientology
An interview with Janet Reitman
A report from Reitman’s first book tour appearance
At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid
Scientology doesn’t like Inside Scientology
Q&A at Washington Post
A roundup of Reitman’s print reviews, and why isn’t she on television more?

HUGH URBAN’S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

A review of Urban’s scholarly history of the church
An interview with Hugh Urban

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

Marc Headley: “Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”
The Nancy Many interview
Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman’s Story
Jeff Hawkins’ Counterfeit Dreams
86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga
Mike Rinder on spying

OVERSEAS NEWS

Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia
Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested
All hell breaks loose in Israel
Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots
Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige “toxic” and “violent”
Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds
Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?
The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

Scientology singalong, “We Stand Tall”
Captain Bill Robertson and “Galactic Patrol”
Scientology wins a major award!
Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!
Birmingham in the House! The “Ideal” dance mix
Scientology and the Nation of Islam
When Scientology was hip
Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers
Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.
Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York “org”

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

A scientologist’s letter to the Voice and its readers
Scientology silent birth
Tad Reeves and family
Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle
Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!

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