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Matt Stone

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Matt Stone

Matt Stone
Matt Stone at the Peabody Awards in 2006
Born Matthew Richard Stone
(1971-05-26) May 26, 1971
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Ethnicity Jewish[1]
Education Heritage High School
Alma mater University of Colorado Boulder
Occupation Actor, animator, writer, producer, director, singer, songwriter
Years active 1989–present
Home town Littleton, Colorado, U.S.
Spouse(s) Angela Howard (m. 2008)
Children 2[2]

Matthew Richard "Matt" Stone (born May 26, 1971) is an American actor, animator, screenwriter, television director, producer, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for being the co-creator of South Park along with his creative partner Trey Parker, as well as co-writing the 2011 multi-Tony Award winning musical The Book of Mormon.

Stone and Parker launched their largely collaborative careers in 1989 when they met at the University of Colorado Boulder. In 1992 they made a holiday short titled Jesus vs. Frosty which would eventually become South Park. Their first success came from Alferd Packer: The Musical, subsequently distributed as Cannibal! The Musical. From there he made another short title, Jesus vs. Santa, leading him and college friend Parker to create South Park, which has been airing for over fifteen years. He has four Emmy Awards for his role in South Park, winning for both "Outstanding Programming More Than One Hour" and "Outstanding Programming Less Than One Hour".

Contents

  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Career beginnings 2.1
      • Cannibal! The Musical (1992–94) 2.1.1
      • The Spirit of Christmas and Orgazmo (1995–97) 2.1.2
    • South Park 2.2
      • Premiere and initial success (1997–98) 2.2.1
      • Bigger, Longer, and Uncut and continued success (1999–present) 2.2.2
    • Television and film projects 2.3
      • That's My Bush! (2000–01) 2.3.1
      • Team America (2002–04) 2.3.2
    • Broadway and movie studio 2.4
      • The Book of Mormon (2011–present) 2.4.1
      • Important Studios and future projects (2013–present) 2.4.2
  • Personal life 3
  • Discography 4
    • Albums 4.1
      • Soundtrack albums 4.1.1
      • Cast recording 4.1.2
  • Filmography 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Matthew Richard Stone was born on May 26, 1971 in Houston, Texas to economics professor Gerald Whitney Stone and Sheila Lois Belasco, the latter of whom is Jewish.[1] The South Park characters Gerald and Sheila Broflovski were named after them. Stone and his younger sister Rachel were raised in Littleton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, Colorado, where both attended Heritage High School.[3] He graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Career

Career beginnings

Cannibal! The Musical (1992–94)

In 1992, Stone, Parker, McHugh, and Ian Hardin founded a production company named the Avenging Conscience, named after the D.W. Griffith film by the same name, which was actively disliked by the group.[4] Parker again employed the cutout paper technique on Avenging Conscience's first production, Jesus vs. Frosty (1992), an animated short pitting the religious figure against Frosty the Snowman.

The quartet created a three-minute trailer for a fictional film titled Alferd Packer: The Musical. The idea was based on an obsession Parker had with Alfred Packer, a real nineteenth-century prospector accused of cannibalism.[5] During this time, Parker had become engaged to long-time girlfriend Lianne Adamo, but their relationship fell apart shortly before production on the trailer began.[5] "Horribly depressed," Parker funneled his frustrations with her into the project, naming Packer's "beloved but disloyal" horse after her.[5][6] The trailer became somewhat of a sensation among students at the school, leading Virgil Grillo, the chairman and founder of the university's film department, to convince the quartet to expand it to a feature-length film.[6] Parker wrote the film's script, creating an Oklahoma!-style musical featuring ten original show tunes.[7] The group raised $125,000 from family and friends and began shooting the film. The movie was shot on Loveland Pass as winter was ending, and the crew endured the freezing weather.[4][7] Parker — under the pseudonym Juan Schwartz — was the film's star, director and co-producer.[6]

Alferd Packer: The Musical premiered in Boulder in October 1993; "they rented a limousine that circled to ferry every member of the cast and crew from the back side of the block to the red carpet at the theater's entrance."[7] The group submitted the movie to the Sundance Film Festival, who did not respond. Parker told McHugh he had a "vision" they needed to be at the festival, which resulted in the group renting out a conference room in a nearby hotel and putting on their own screenings.[5] MTV did a short news segment on The Big Picture regarding the film,[4] and they made industry connections through the festival.[5][8] They intended to sell video rights to the film for $1 million and spend the remaining $900,000 to create another film.[8] The film was instead sold to Troma Entertainment in 1996 where it was retitled Cannibal! The Musical,[9] and upon the duo's later success, it became their biggest-selling title.[6] It has since been labeled a "cult classic" and adapted into a stage play by community theater groups and even high schools nationwide.[10]

The Spirit of Christmas and Orgazmo (1995–97)

We were sleeping on floors thinking, Wow, another two weeks and we're going to be fucking rich. And pretty soon two weeks turns into two months, and two months turns into two years, and you definitely stop listening.

Parker on his early career[8]

Following the film's success, the group, sans Hardin, moved to Los Angeles.[7] Upon arrival, they met a lawyer for the William Morris Agency who connected them with producer Scott Rudin. As a result, the duo acquired a lawyer, an agent, and a script deal.[8] Despite initially believing themselves to be on the verge of success, the duo struggled for several years. Stone slept on dirty laundry for upwards of a year because he could not afford to purchase a mattress.[8] They unsuccessfully pitched a children's program titled Time Warped to Fox Kids, which would have involved fictionalized stories of people in history.[9] The trio created two separate pilots, spaced a year apart, and despite the approval of development executive Pam Brady, the network disbanded the Fox Kids division.[7] While at Fox, executive Brian Graden cut Parker and Stone a personal check of a few thousand dollars to produce a video greeting card he could deliver to friends; the film would be a sequel to their earlier short Jesus vs. Frosty.[7]

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Matt Stone at Wikiquote
  • Matt Stone and Trey Parker at the Official South Park Website
  • Matt Stone at the Internet Movie Database
  • Matt Stone at the Internet Broadway Database
  • Fresh Air Interview

External links

  1. ^ a b Matt Stone, Jewish Hall of Fame (Shalom Life)
  2. ^ a b "The Book Of Mormon: not for the easily offended". The Guardian. 4 January 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2013. Stone has two children under three..... 
  3. ^ "Matt Stone biography". Biography.com. Retrieved April 26, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Roberts, Michael. "The South Park Anniversary: The First Trey Parker–Matt Stone Interview". Westword. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Carl Swanson (March 7, 2011). "Latter-Day Saints".  
  6. ^ a b c d Joshua Kurp (March 29, 2011). : Matt Stone and Trey Parker's Original Twisted Musical"Cannibal!". Splitsider ( 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Phillips, Glasgow (2007). The Royal Nonesuch: Or, What Will I Do When I Grow Up?. Grove Press. p. 14.  
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Pond, Steve (June 2000). "Interview: Trey Parker and Matt Stone".   [2]
  9. ^ a b c d e f Galloway, Stephen (March 24, 2011). ‍ '​s Trey Parker and Matt Stone Now Say It's 'Wrong' to Offend"South Park"Why .  
  10. ^ Carl Kozlowski (February 9, 2012). "Cannibal! The Musical in a High School? Get the Splash Zone Ready".  
  11. ^ a b c Galloway, Stephen (July 16, 2001). South Park' Creator Trey Parker Cops to Kooky Universal Spoof"'".  
  12. ^ a b c d Leonard, Devin (October 27, 2006). a success – October 30, 2006"South Park"How Trey Parker and Matt Stone made . CNN. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  13. ^ Jeffrey Ressner and James Collins (March 23, 1998). "Gross And Grosser".  
  14. ^ Trey Parker, Matt Stone (1998). The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Television show). NBC.  Interview with Jay Leno
  15. ^ Trey Parker; Matt Stone (March 1, 2002). Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Larry Divney 'Speaking Freely' transcript. (Interview). Archived from the original on January 17, 2010. Retrieved February 8, 2007. 
  16. ^ Halbfinger, David M. (August 27, 2007). South Park' Creators Win Ad Sharing In Deal"'". The New York Times. Retrieved October 17, 2008. 
  17. ^ Littlefield, Kinney (February 1, 1998). "South Park is a Far-out Place to Play". AAP Newsfeed (  (subscription required)
  18. ^ a b Parker, Trey; Stone, Matt (2002). South Park – The Complete First Season: Episode Commentary (Audio commentary for "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe") (CD). Comedy Central. 
  19. ^ Back cover. South Park – The Original Unaired Pilot (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003.  (Included with purchase of the following at  )
  20. ^ Pennington, Gail (August 13, 1997). "A cartoon about kids that isn't for them".  
  21. ^ a b c d Gournelos, Ted (2009). South ParkPopular Culture and the Future of Politics: Cultural Studies and the Tao of. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 11–19.  
  22. ^ Mink, Eric (October 29, 1998). "South Park comes up with a hallo-winner".  
  23. ^ "Tonight on TV".  
  24. ^ Parker, Trey (2003). South Park: The Complete First Season: "Death" (Audio commentary) (CD). Comedy Central. 
  25. ^ Forkan, Jim (September 29, 1997). "Comedy Central will fly solo in '98". Multichannel News. 
  26. ^ McCabe, Janet; Akass, Kim (2007). Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond. I. B. Tauris. p. 91.  
  27. ^ The Charlotte Observer staff (May 2, 1998). Movie"South Park"Sweet! Creators Sign to Do .  
  28. ^ Andre Dellamorte (October 22, 2009). [Blu-ray] – Review"South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut". Collider.com. Retrieved March 9, 2011. 
  29. ^ Bernard Weinraub (June 29, 1999). "South Park"Loosening a Strict Film Rating for .  
  30. ^ David Hochman (July 9, 1999). "South Park"Putting the 'R' in .  
  31. ^ Jake Trapper and Dan Morris (September 22, 2006). "'"Secrets of 'South Park.  
  32. ^ "Comedy Central press release". Comedy Central. December 20, 2011. Retrieved March 19, 2013. 
  33. ^ a b David Carr (January 27, 2013). "Fortifying the Empire ‘South Park’ Built".  
  34. ^ Bill Gorman. South Park' Renewed Through 2016 By Comedy Central"'". TV By the Numbers. 
  35. ^ Browne, David (January 8, 1999). "Shower Hooks". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 24, 2009. 
  36. ^ Nazareth, Errol. Chef" Hayes cooks crazy stew""". jam! Showbiz: Music.  
  37. ^ Moorhead, M.V. (December 23, 1999). "Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved July 24, 2009. 
  38. ^ "One Hit Wonders".  
  39. ^ "40 Questions". South Park Studios. October 4, 2001. Retrieved January 30, 2009. 
  40. ^ PlayStation 2 Premiere. shpadoinkle. October 18, 2000. Retrieved September 4, 2011.  Video on YouTube.
  41. ^ South Park: The Stick of Truth Delayed"'". IGN. October 31, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2013. 
  42. ^ "'"Debmar Studios Acquires Broadcast Syndication Rights To Comedy Central's(R) 'South Park. www.prnewswire.com. Retrieved May 27, 2009. 
  43. ^ Grossberg, Josh (July 30, 2004). "Oh My God! "South Park" Syndicated". www.eonline.com. Retrieved May 27, 2009. 
  44. ^ South Park" Creators Trey Parker And Matt Stone And Comedy Central Launch The All-New Southparkstudios.com""". southparkstudios.com. March 25, 2008. Retrieved October 19, 2008.  (Link not accessible from outside the U.S..)
  45. ^ a b Andrew Ross Sorkin; Amy Cozick (January 13, 2013), South Park' Creators to Start Company, Important Studios"'",  
  46. ^ a b c Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "A Poorly Executed Plan" (Audio commentary) (DVD).  
  47. ^ Stone, Matt (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "A Poorly Executed Plan" (Audio commentary) (DVD).  
  48. ^ Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "Eenie Meenie Miney Murder" (Audio commentary) (DVD).  
  49. ^ a b Lynn Elber (August 3, 2001). """Comedy Central Cancels "That's my Bush. Spartanburg Herald-Journal. AP Newswire. Retrieved March 14, 2010. 
  50. ^ cancelled"That's My Bush". Sun Journal. AP Newswire. August 3, 2001. Retrieved March 14, 2010. 
  51. ^ Parker, Trey (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "The First Lady's Persqueeter" (Audio commentary) (DVD).  
  52. ^ Stone, Matt (October 2006). That's My Bush! The Definitive Collection: "The First Lady's Persqueeter" (Audio commentary) (DVD).  
  53. ^ Mark Armstrong (March 22, 2000). "Trey and Matt Shock Shockwave?".  
  54. ^ "South Park Studios FAQ, March 2004 Archive". Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  55. ^ Patrick Sauriol (June 25, 2003). "' Team AmericaCreators PrepareSouth Park '". Mania.com (source:  
  56. ^ a b c Guys At End Of Rope"South Park"Film Has . Los Angeles Times. September 18, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  57. ^ "' was 'lowest pointTeam America"Stone says .  
  58. ^ "Puppetry of the Meanest". In Focus. October 4, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2011. 
  59. ^ Roger Friedman (October 5, 2004). : Sex, Puppets & Controversy"Team America".  
  60. ^ "Team America: World Police (2004)". 
  61. ^ Jones, Kenneth (April 4, 2011), ‍‍ '​‍s brief encounter with Robert Lopez"Playbill",  
  62. ^ Adams, Guy (November 19, 2008), "Mormons to get 'South Park' treatment",  
  63. ^ Healy, Patrick (May 13, 2011). "The Path of ‘The Book of Mormon' to Broadway". The New York Times. 
  64. ^  
  65. ^ "'The Book Of Mormon' to Open at Eugene O'Neill 3/24; Previews 2/24", broadwayworld.com, 2010-09-13
  66. ^ "Broadway Review Roundup: THE BOOK OF MORMON". BroadwayWorld.com. March 25, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  67. ^ Keith Caulfield (June 15, 2011). Makes History"Book of Mormon 200, Billboard"Adele Reclaims No. 1 on . Billboard. Retrieved June 15, 2011. 
  68. ^ Sorkin, Andrew Ross (2013-01-14). South Park' Creators to Start Company, Important Studios"'".  
  69. ^ Swanson, Carl. "Latter-Day Saints". New York Magazine. March 6, 2011, Page 2
  70. ^ Raphael, Rebecca. "Who is Kyle Broslofski?". Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Archived from the original on October 13, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-03. 
  71. ^ "Chat with Matt Stone (11/15/2005)". South Park Studios. November 15, 2005. Archived from the original on October 5, 2007. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  72. ^ Swanson, Carl (March 11, 2011). "Trey Parker and Matt Stone Talk About Why The Book of Mormon Isn’t Actually Offensive, and the Future of South Park". Vulture/New York Magazine.
  73. ^ Nightline, ABC News, March 25, 2011, Quote: "I am an atheist, I live my life like I'm an atheist."
  74. ^ http://reason.com/archives/2006/12/05/south-park-libertarians/2
  75. ^ "South Park – Chart History: Billboard 200".  
  76. ^ "South Park – Chart History: Canada".  
  77. ^ Keith Caulfield (May 26, 2011). Cast Album Scores Impressive Chart Debut"The Book of Mormon".  

References

Filmography

List of cast recording albums, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions
US
[77]
The Book of Mormon: Original Broadway Cast Recording 31
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Cast recording

List of soundtrack albums, with selected chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions
US
[75]
Can
[76]
Chef Aid: The South Park Album 16 14
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut
  • Release date: November 24, 1998
  • Label: Atlantic Records
  • Formats: CD, vinyl, digital download
28 20
Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics
Team America: World Police
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Soundtrack albums

Albums

Discography

Politically, Stone describes himself as libertarian.[74]

Stone claims to be ethnically Jewish, on account of his mother being Jewish.[70][71] Regarding his beliefs, Stone self-identifies as an atheist or agnostic.[72][73]

In 2008, Stone married Angela Howard. Together they have two children.[2][69]

Personal life

On January 14, 2013, Stone and Parker announced that they would be starting a film production company called Important Studios. Inspired by the production work of Lucasfilm and DreamWorks, Stone and Parker considered founding the studio for approximately two years before committing. The initial financial assets of the studio are valued at $300 million, with the majority of the money originating from South Park, The Book of Mormon, while $60 million is from an investment from Joseph Ravitch of the Raine Group, giving him a 20 percent minority stock.[68]

Important Studios and future projects (2013–present)

After a frantic series of rewrites, rehearsals, and previews,[9] The Book of Mormon premiered on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on March 24, 2011.[64][65] The Book of Mormon received broad critical praise for the plot, score, actors' performances, direction and choreography.[66] A cast recording of the original Broadway production became the highest-charting Broadway cast album in over four decades.[67] The musical received nine Tony Awards, one for Best Musical, and a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. The production has since expanded to two national tours, a Chicago production, UK production, and Parker and Stone have confirmed a film adaption is in pre-production.[33][45]

Parker and Stone, alongside writer-composer Robert Lopez, began working on a musical centering on Mormonism during the production of Team America. Lopez, a fan of South Park and creator of the puppet musical Avenue Q, met with the duo after a performance of the musical, where they conceived the idea.[9][61] The musical, titled The Book of Mormon: The Musical of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was worked on over a period of various years; working around their South Park schedule, they flew between New York and Los Angeles often, first writing songs for the musical in 2006.[9] Developmental workshops began in 2008,[62] and the crew embarked on the first of a half-dozen workshops that would take place during the next four years.[9] Originally, producer Scott Rudin planned to stage The Book of Mormon off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop in Summer 2010, but opted to premiere it directly on Broadway, "[s]ince the guys [Parker and Stone] work best when the stakes are highest."[63]

The Book of Mormon (2011–present)

Broadway and movie studio

In 2002, the duo began working on Team America: World Police, a satire of big-budget action films and their associated clichés and stereotypes, with particular humorous emphasis on the global implications of the politics of the United States.[55] Team America was produced using a crew of about 200 people, which sometimes required four people at a time to manipulate a marionette.[56] Although the filmmakers hired three dozen top-notch marionette operators, simple performances from the marionettes was nearly impossible, with a simple shot such as a character drinking taking a half-day to complete successfully.[56] The deadline for the film's completion took a toll on both filmmakers, as did various difficulties in working with puppets, with Stone, who described the film as "the worst time of [my] life," resorting to coffee to work 20-hour days and sleeping pills to go to bed.[56][57][58] The film was barely completed in time for its October release date,[59] but reviews were positive and the film made a modest sum at the box office.[60]

Team America (2002–04)

Although That's My Bush!, which ran between April–May 2001, received a fair amount of publicity and critical notice, according to Stone and Parker, the cost per episode was too high, "about $1 million an episode."[49] Comedy Central officially cancelled the series in August 2001 as a cost-cutting move; Stone was quoted as saying "A super-expensive show on a small cable network...the economics of it were just not going to work."[50] Comedy Central continued the show in reruns, considering it a creative and critical success.[49] Parker believed the show would not have survived after the September 11 attacks anyway, and Stone agreed, saying the show would not "play well."[51][52] During this time, the duo also signed a deal with Macromedia Shockwave to produce 39 animated online shorts in which they would retain full artistic control; the result, Princess, was rejected after only two episodes.[53][54]

In 2000, Parker and Stone began plotting a television sitcom starring the winner of the 2000 Presidential election. The duo were "95 percent sure" that Democratic candidate Al Gore would win, and tentatively titled the show Everybody Loves Al.[46] The main goal was to parody sitcom tropes, such as a lovable main character, the sassy maid, and the wacky neighbor.[47] Parker said the producers did not want to make fun of politics, but instead lampoon sitcoms.[46] They threw a party the night of the election with the writers, with intentions to begin writing the following Monday and shooting the show in January 2001 with the inauguration. With the confusion of who the President would be, the show's production was pushed back.[46] The show was filmed at Sony Pictures Studios, and was the first time Parker and Stone shot a show on a production lot.[48]

That's My Bush! (2000–01)

Television and film projects

South Park has expanded to music and video games. Comedy Central released various albums, including Chef Aid: The South Park Album and Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics, in the late 1990s.[35][36][37] The song "Chocolate Salty Balls" (as sung by the character Chef) was released as a single in the UK in 1998 to support the Chef Aid: The South Park Album and became a number one hit.[38] Parker and Stone had little to do the development of video games based on the series that were released at this time,[39][40] but took full creative control of South Park: The Stick of Truth, a 2014 video game based on the series that received positive reviews.[41]Broadcast syndication rights to South Park were sold in 2003,[42][43] and all episodes are available for free full-length on-demand legal streaming on the official South Park Studios website.[44] In 2007, the duo, with the help of their lawyer, Kevin Morris, cut a 50-50 joint venture with Comedy Central on all revenue not related to television; this includes digital rights to South Park, as well as movies, soundtracks, T-shirts and other merchandise, in a deal worth $75 million.[45]

Parker and Stone continue to write, direct, and voice most characters on South Park. Over time, the show has adopted a unique production process, in which an entire episode is written, animated and broadcast in one week.[31] Parker and Stone state that subjecting themselves to a one-week deadline creates more spontaneity amongst themselves in the creative process, which they feel results in a funnier show.[12] Although initial reviews for the show were negative in reference to its crass humor, the series has received numerous accolades, including five Primetime Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and numerous inclusions in various publications' lists of greatest television shows. Though its viewership is lower than it was at the height of its popularity in its earliest seasons, South Park remains one of the highest-rated series on Comedy Central.[32] In 2012, South Park cut back from producing 14 episodes per year (seven in the spring and seven in the fall) to a single run of 10 episodes in the fall, to allow the duo to explore other projects the rest of the year.[33] The show is currently renewed through 2016, when it will reach its twentieth season.[34]

Parker and Stone signed a deal with Comedy Central in April 1998 that contracted the duo to producing South Park episodes until 1999, gave them a slice of the lucrative spinoff merchandising the show generated within its first year, as well as an unspecified seven-figure cash bonus to bring the show to the big screen, in theaters.[27] During the time, the team was also busy writing the second and third seasons of the series, the former of which Parker and Stone later described as "disastrous". As such, they figured the phenomenon would be over soon, and they decided to write a personal, fully committed musical.[28] Parker and Stone fought with the MPAA to keep the film R-rated; for months the ratings board insisted on the more prohibitive NC-17.[29] The film was only certified an R rating two weeks prior to its release, following contentious conversations between Parker/Stone, Rudin, and Paramount Pictures.[30] Parker felt very overwhelmed and overworked during the production process of the film, especially between April and the movie’s opening in late June. He admitted that press coverage, which proclaimed the end of South Park was near, bothered him.[8] The film opened in cinemas in June 1999 and received critical acclaim, grossing $83 million at the box office.

Two adult males sitting in chairs; the male at the right is speaking into a handheld microphone
Parker (left) and Matt Stone (right) continue to do most of the writing, directing and voice acting on South Park.

Bigger, Longer, and Uncut and continued success (1999–present)

Parker and Stone became celebrities as a result of the program's success; Parker noted that the success of South Park allowed him to pursue, for a time, a lifestyle that involved partying with women and "out-of-control binges" in Las Vegas.[8] Their philosophy of taking every deal (which had surfaced as a result of their lack of trust in the early success of South Park) led to their appearances in films, albums, and outside script deals. Among these included BASEketball, a 1998 comedy film that became a critical and commercial flop.

South Park premiered in August 1997 and immediately became one of the most popular shows on cable television, averaging consistently between 3.5 and 5.5 million viewers.[21] The show transformed the then-fledgling Comedy Central into "a cable industry power almost overnight."[12] At the time, the cable network had a low distribution of just 21 million subscribers.[21] Comedy Central marketed the show aggressively before its launch, billing it as "that's why they invented the V-chip." The resulting buzz led to the network earning an estimated $30 million in T-shirts sales alone before the first episode was even aired.[21] Due to the success of the series' first six episodes, Comedy Central requested an additional seven; the series completed its first season in February 1998.[22][23][24] An affiliate of the MTV Network until then, Comedy Central decided, in part due to the success of South Park, to have its own independent sales department.[25] By the end of 1998, Comedy Central had sold more than $150 million worth of merchandise for the show, including T-shirts and dolls.[26] Over the next few years, Comedy Central's viewership spiked largely due to South Park, adding 3 million new subscribers in the first half of 1998 alone and allowed the network to sign international deals with networks in several countries.[21]

The pilot episode of South Park was made on a budget of $300,000,[17] and took between three and three and a half months to complete, and animation took place in a small room at Celluloid Studios, in Denver, Colorado, during the summer of 1996.[18][19] Similarly to Parker and Stone's Christmas shorts, the original pilot was animated entirely with traditional cut paper stop motion animation techniques.[18] The idea for the town of South Park came from the real Colorado basin of the same name where, according to the creators, a lot of folklore and news reports originated about "UFO sightings, and cattle mutilations, and Bigfoot sightings."[20]

Premiere and initial success (1997–98)

South Park

Graden sent the film on a VHS to several industry executives in Hollywood; meanwhile, someone digitized the clip and put it up on the Internet, where it became one of the very first viral videos.[7][12][13] As Jesus vs. Santa became more popular, Parker and Stone began talks of developing the short into a television series. Fox refused to pick up the series, not wanting to air a show that included the character Mr. Hankey, a talking piece of feces.[14] The two were initially skeptical of possible television deals, noting that previous endeavors had not turned out successful.[8] The two then entered negotiations with both MTV and Comedy Central. Parker preferred the show be produced by Comedy Central, fearing that MTV would turn it into a kids show.[15] When Comedy Central executive Doug Herzog watched the short, he commissioned for it to be developed into a series.[12][16]

[8]

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