Comedy Central is in the process of developing an animated TV show that features Jesus Christ as "the ultimate fish out of water" despite efforts the all-comedy network had made recently to censor a more-controversial-than-usual episode of "South Park."
The half-hour show, announced Thursday as part of Comedy Central's 2010-2011 development slate, is being described as "a playful take on religion and society with a sprinkle of dumb" and is set in New York City, where Jesus attempts to live as a "regular guy."
"JC," the go-to name for both the show and its main character, follows Jesus as he seeks to "escape the enormous shadow" of his "all-powerful yet apathetic father," who "would rather be playing video games than listening to JC recount his life in the city."
"An animated show about the adventures of Jesus Christ. He is risen!" commented Comedy Central blogger Matt Tobey after "JC" was announced by Kent Alterman, head of original programming and production at the network.
"And by 'He' I mean 'my interest in this television program,'" Tobey added.
Not surprisingly, the announcement picked up few laughs (if any) from the Christian community, which mostly found the latest move by Comedy Central contradictory given its recent efforts with "South Park."
Last month, Comedy Central decided to censor parts of South Park's 201st episode, bleeping out every mention of the word "Muhammad" and the entire speech at the end of episode 201.
The network had done so after a group called Revolution Muslim stated in its website that "South Park" producers Matt Stone and Trey Parker would "probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh" for airing the show, referring to the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered in 2004 by Muslim extremists for making a movie about Muslim women.
"These are the same executives who delight in bashing Christians while continuing to censor any depiction of Muhammad on 'South Park,'" Catholic League president Bill Donohue stated Thursday.
"They also deceive," he added, citing Alterman's comments concerning the proposed show.
Regarding "JC," Alterman said comedy "in its purest form always makes some people uncomfortable."
"Not true," responded Donohue. "Besides the fact that there is no end to the number of comedians who have made a huge name for themselves without ever offending anyone, what is even more relevant is the fact that Comedy Central has absolutely no interest in making Muslims feel uncomfortable."
The Catholic watchdog leader further highlighted the fact that Muslims regard Jesus to be a prophet and hold him in high regard, making the network's latest announcement seemingly contradictory to its recent censorship efforts .
"They (Muslims) may not be too pleased to learn that one of their revered figures is going to be ridiculed on Comedy Central," Donohue stated. "To that end, we will not only contact the Catholic community, we will contact Muslim organizations as well."
With the show's development still in its infant stages, Catholic League is encouraging concerned Americans to contact Comedy Central's CEO, Doug Herzog, early on and sound off on "JC."
"If you show up at Herzog's office, and he says he is feeling uneasy, let him know that having a fun time in its purest form always makes some people feel uncomfortable. He is sure to understand," Donohue concluded.
According to Comedy Central's Alterman, the focus during the network's development process is to find performers, writers, directors and producers that project a "strong, unique comedic voice," and then help them "actualize their vision in the most unfiltered manner possible."
"With the current development slate, I think it's safe to say we're doing our part to end global hunger and foster world peace," Alterman stated.
Currently set to produce "JC" is Reveille ("The Office"), Henrik Basin, Brian Boyle ("American Dad"), Jonathan Sjoberg and Andreas Ohman.
Comedy Central is owned by and is a registered trademark of Comedy Partners, a wholly-owned division of Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks.