TV columnists were speculating today (Wednesday) about how South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone would handle tonight's scheduled episode, titled "The Return of Chef." A publicity notice released by the network said that although the South Park characters are happy "to have their old friend back, they notice that something about Chef seems different. When Chef's strange behavior starts getting him in trouble, the boys pull out all the stops to save him." In the past, Chef has been voiced by Isaac Hayes. In a statement last week, Hayes indicated that he had pulled out of the show because of an episode that lampooned Scientology. But rumor has spread that Hayes may have been forced to release the statement, possibly, in part, because of health reasons. The New York Daily News speculated today that the producers may have used existing dialogue from Hayes that aired in previous episodes to create tonight's episode. And the Seattle Times suggested that Parker and Stone plan to use it as another salvo against Scientology.
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The film is expected to continue without Mendes' involvement.