Trey Parker

Trey Parker

The Colorado-born Parker had already demonstrated his warped sense of humor as a college student at the University of Colorado. Not interested in creating standard fare, he and Chris Graves fashioned a five-and-one-half minute review of "American History" (1992), featuring coarsely-designed cut-out figures. The short earned attention and received a silver medal in the Student Academy Awards competition. The following year, Parker attempted a more ambitious undertaking, a live-action musical based on the true story of Alferd Packer, a Civil War veteran and prospector who confessed to eating four men who were trapped with him by a snowstorm. Fashioning a thoroughly unusual film, the fledgling director/songwriter submitted his opus to the Sundance Film Festival. Not surprisingly, "Alferd Packer! The Musical!" (1993) was rejected. Nonetheless, Parker arranged a midnight screening and the alternative Slamdance Festival traces its roots to that screening. Troma purchased the rights to distribute the amateurish film and released it under the title "Cannibal! The Musical!" Featured in the cast was Matt Stone.Parker and Stone moved to Los Angeles in 1994 and, in need of funds, agreed to make the holiday video greeting card for TV executive Brian Graden. The result was "The Spirit of Christmas" which quickly became a must-see in Hollywood. (Celebrities ranging from Steven Spielberg to George Clooney and Tom Cruise were reported to have obtained copies.) Before the executives from Comedy Central came calling with the offer of a series, Parker and Stone lent their perversely oddball humor to another feature. "Orgazmo" (lensed in 1996; shown at festivals in 1997-98; released theatrically in 1998), about a Mormon who becomes a porno star. The attractive, bleached blonde Parker undertook the leading role in addition to directing, editing and co-writing both the script and songs with Stone. (Their rock band DVDA also performed the music.) Praised for its originality, "Orgazmo" was picked up for distribution by October Films. Following their small screen success (which included a reported $15 million contract to produce episodes of "South Park" through the year 2000), Parker and Stone found themselves co-starring in David Zucker's zany comedy "BASEketball" (1998), about the creators of a hybrid sport that combined baseball and basketball. Zucker reportedly tailored the script to the particular talents of the duo. As "South Park's" pop cultural cachet inevitably cooled after several seasons on the air, Parker and Stone explored new horizons, again pushing politically correct boundaries. The first effort, "That's My Bush!" (Comedy Central, 2001), a sit-com parodying sit-coms by showing President George W. Bush in outrageous variations of cliched, "wacky" sit-com premises, failed to catch on with audiences, as much due to the pro-America sentiments following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as to its own creative shortcomings. Parker and Stone's next major project, however, was appealing subversive and high-concept: "Team America: World Police" (2004) satirized everything from the current political climate to big-budget action films and included a whopping does of the duo's trademark scatalogical humor, all delivered by puppets designed in a clunky, old-fashioned "Thunderbirds"-style.