Twenty Seasons Later, We Still Have George Clooney To Thank For ‘South Park’

Oh my god, can you believe South Park is turning 20? On the occasion of the premiere of the 20th season Wednesday night, the Hollywood Reporter took a look back at two decades of the Comedy Central series in an extensive oral history with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as well as producers, writers, guest stars, and many others who influenced or were influenced by the series in some way.

While the whole thing is a great read, one excerpt in particular stands out. We all know George Clooney appeared in the fourth episode of South Park as Stan’s gay dog Sparky, and later, as the doctor who replaced Kenny’s heart with a baked potato in South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut. But some people may not know we also have him to thank in part for the show getting picked up in the first place.

Many South Park fans are familiar with “The Spirit of Christmas,” the stop motion animated short that started it all, which Parker and Stone had filmed while attending The University of Colorado. As the story goes, they showed the video to their friend Brian Graden, at the time a junior executive at Fox, who asked if the short could be made into an animated Christmas card. Graden sent VHS copies of “The Spirit of Christmas” to 35 of his friends, who passed it onto their friends, and eventually it landed in the hands of none other than Clooney, as executive producer Anne Garefino recalls.

Before we even began working on the series, the fact that George Clooney had made hundreds of VHS copies of The Spirit of Christmas and sent them out to all his friends was already the stuff of Hollywood history. When he did the voice of Sparky, Stan’s gay dog [for episode four], he did the voice remotely. We never met him until he finally came by the studio to do a voice for the South Park movie.

Had George Clooney not been so taken by a crude animated VHS featuring foul-mouthed children, South Park as we know it may have never seen the light of day. His stint on Roseanne notwithstanding, it may go down as his most important contribution to pop culture ever.

(Via Hollywood Reporter)