Joel Osteen developing reality show with 'Survivor' producer
Joel Osteen is developing a reality show that will feature members of his Houston, Texas, megachurch.
November 30th, 2011
10:57 AM ET

Joel Osteen developing reality show with 'Survivor' producer

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Joel Osteen, who leads the largest church in the United States and reaches millions of Americans through his televised Sunday sermons, is developing a reality show with the producer of “Survivor,” the televangelist said Tuesday.

Osteen has signed a deal with famed reality TV producer Mark Burnett to develop the show, a spokeswoman for Joel Osteen Ministries said.

"Victoria (Osteen's wife) and I are looking forward to working with Mark Burnett on this project,” Osteen said in a statement Tuesday.

“We have great respect for Mark and we know that the finished product will not only entertain but will illustrate the generosity and selflessness that is a hallmark of the American people," he said.

Osteen said the yet-to-be-named series would not resemble a typical reality show.

“In my mind, when I think of ‘reality’ (show), I think of cameras following you doing nothing,” Osteen said, according to CNN Houston affiliate KHOU. “But this is more ‘Extreme (Makeover: Home Edition).’ We’re going with a purpose - with a mission.”

Osteen said the show would feature members of his Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas - the country’s largest congregation - helping others.

“We would take a group of 300-500 people from this auditorium, from our ministry and go somewhere in the world - probably in the U.S. to start - but just to help a place in need,” Osteen said, according to KHOU. “A place hit by a tornado. Maybe a run-down neighborhood.”

The show is in early stages of development and hasn’t yet been picked up by a network, said Andrea Davis, a spokeswoman for Joel Osteen Ministries.

“(Osteen) had been approached for a number of years by different networks with ideas along the same kind of lines but it just didn’t come together,” she said.

Joel and Victoria Osteen befriended Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, about a year ago, Davis said. The Burnetts have visited Lakewood to worship and the Osteens have visited Burnett and Downey in Los Angeles.

“But their friendship developed and it seemed to really gel - the idea that Mark had and what was on Joel’s heart,” Davis said. “(Osteen) had a desire to do something like this ... that’s reflective of Joel’s core message of hope and inspiration.”

Osteen’s 16,000-seat church is located in the former Compaq Center in Houston.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Leaders • TV

soundoff (818 Responses)
  1. ModernMan

    Try for a minute taking God out of this. Maybe this is a situation where someone will do some good for other people. Who cares what his motivation is, as long as good is being done for the people who really need it. ... Lest ye be judged.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • TheTruthFairy

      It's not the God in it, it's the profit in it that I think most people have the problem with.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  2. gaylib

    I guess this explains why Survivor has become the evangelical Jesus nutjob hour. It is unwatchable anymore.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  3. Olly Orlando

    Joel looks like he should be coaching football at Penn State, but I digress. Any man who claims to speak for Jesus and then makes a profit off of Jesus is a sinner of the most foul proportions; he is destined to spend eternity in the firey pits he has assigned others to via his faux-christian propaganda. If he wants to be a REAL Christian leader he ought to take true vow of poverty and live as Jesus did. If you are going to take it upon yourself to preach the lord's word, you ought to abide by it and live as he did himself. Wealth is not Christian. Neither are the Olsteens. They disgust me and I hope they meet their maker sooner than later.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • martin

      Asd usual, you people do not know what your talking about. joel is a leader of happy thoughts with sprinkled in religous tones. He's just a popular guy. that's it! nothing more!

      November 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • FrankMD

      I am sure you took the vow of poverty, too!! Hypocrites are a dime a dozen!

      November 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  4. Easy E

    Ah yes, another smarmy, dumbed down show for the Sheeple. Well, there's nothing more kitschy and fake than a peacherman and his cherrypicked "favorites" from within the "flock". It's all just a 1 hour promo for his con-act with a few strategic "product placements" made to keep the advertisers happy. It would be hilarious if we weren't already inundated with this kind of horsepoop all the time.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  5. carole

    Why do they have to wait to have a show on tv to do good? Why not take your members and do good now. No need for cameras
    Seems odd to me to want the world to see your "good works".
    A show I won't be watching.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • tsmooth

      who says they've waited? Osteen and the church does a LOT of good for others, not only in Houston, but all over the World.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • Sunflower

      the bible says if you display and brag about your good works, and not do them privately, it's like they were never done at all.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Sarah

      Matthew chapter 6 “Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."

      November 30, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • ModernMan

      Money from sponsors makes much of the repairs possible. Sponsors also donate goods and amterials as well as food for the workers. Your comment is short-sighted.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  6. jo an

    I watched Joel on the Piers Morgan interview...Joel could not give one comment that shows he THINKS..on Gays...he said, 'Well the 'Scripture' says...' on the death penalty he got the phony smile and said...'Well other people know lots more than me...so I don't have an opinion'...The guy is completely hollow...I hope he helps the poor but I doubt it...he is a RIGHT WINGED Fundamentalist in T V 'clothing'...he would be the first to show up at a town hanging and grin...and pass the hat...

    November 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • martin

      He's no right winger. Grow up and pay attention.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  7. gaylib

    Will the show promote Osteen and his followers hatred and bigotry toward gay people? Just askin'...

    November 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • ModernMan

      He and his followers do not promote hatred toward ANYONE. In fact, if you listen, you would know that he has been widely recognized for his embracing of all people and encouragement of Christians to refrain from judging other human beings.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  8. Sarah

    Would Jesus have waited for a contract and a camera to do good for others, or would he just do it without expecting anything in return?

    November 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • tsmooth

      Osteen and his church to a LOT for the poor, not only in Houston, but all over the world. They just don't "advertise" it in order to look good.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Chris

      Jesus expects worship in return.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Green Furhammer

      jesus is asking an awful lot. he hasn't trimmed my palm trees in months.

      November 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  9. ChrkeePrde

    This guy sure knows how to make big bucks. I smell sulfur.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  10. robert ray

    This is totally pathetic.A reality show based on a non reality religious farce.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  11. Sybaris

    This guy just can't get enough of fleecing the flock

    November 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • tsmooth

      how does he fleece the flock when he doesn't take a salary from the church?

      November 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  12. wisdom4u2

    AWESOME! Too many people assume all the wrong things...now let them see first hand the good that these people really do. I can't wait! God's speed, Joel!

    November 30, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Sarah

      And lets see how much they get paid to do it!

      November 30, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Who cares? If secular people can do it, why not Christians? Christians will be much more interesting.....derrrr.

      November 30, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
  13. anvilheadsix

    Isn't "Christian Reality Show" an oxymoron??

    November 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • BR


      November 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Not in the first century. Christian "reality" wasn't anticipated by anyone. In fact, the reality about Jesus fell on His followers (and enemies) like an anvil. You can turn off Osteen with a click of the TV controller. Non-believers have been trying to get Jesus to leave for over 2000 years.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  14. krb

    Anything for a buck, religion has always been about power and money, the world is full of fools who are willing to give up their souls and money for salvation. Religion of any sucks!!!!!

    November 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  15. Yeshua

    Hahahaha!!! I was jewish dont ya know. What in the name of lucifer is a trinity. I was a rebel rouser and they nailed me to a cross for it. Rise from the dead??? That's just lunacy. Born of a virgin??? That would be a neat trick. BTW, my mom was smokin' hot, old Joe was a lucky man..wink wink nudge nudge. Christians? You people cant even call me by my given name. I was not a greek and I certainly was not roman. If I was a god, I would send you all to burn just for being idiots.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • lsteel

      Somehow I thought you would have better grammar...

      November 30, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Yeshua

      Aremaic to english is a pain in the @ss.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  16. Dennis Goulet

    There is something not right when church leaders go commercial! Its all about Money! Lets see the church open their pockets and give back to the poor... How about that!... HMMMM!

    November 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • DT

      You must have missed the part in the article that said they will be going places that need help. "We would take a group of 300-500 people from this auditorium, from our ministry and go somewhere in the world – probably in the U.S. to start – but just to help a place in need,” Osteen said, according to KHOU. “A place hit by a tornado. Maybe a run-down neighborhood.” That tells me they are opening their wallets to help others. How about that!

      November 30, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  17. Chris From Iowa

    Ka-roooooooook! Total crook. I'll only watch if he goes away in cuffs by the third episode. And, we're talkin' TIVO.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  18. Shadowflash1522

    "We took Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and added GOD to it! Take that Ty Pennington!"

    November 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  19. kalikim

    Joel Osteen and his wife are nothing more and nothing less than 21st Century clones of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker. As an educated woman with a degree in psychology and a Christian who believes Jesus is the messiah I have studied and watched Mr. Osteen and his wife and it is crystal clear that they are "snake-oil salesmen" bilking millions of down-on- their-luck people out of billions of their hard-earned American dollars. Joel and his wife seldom preach on anything from the bible or on Jesus Christ. Its pop psychology and self-help babble with a veneer of truth so that they may live rich and lavish lives in the face of one of the worst economic downtowns in American history in almost 100 years!!! Jesus came to serve and not to be served. JOEL & VICTORIA OSTEEN HAVE A ONE-WAY TICKET TO HELL AND I HOPE I HAVE A FRONT-ROW SEAT...Not really of course, but I hope God "does the right thing."

    November 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • kelly

      Really? You are a Christian and want a "front row seat" to see the Osteen's burn in Hell? Oh wait, not really you just hope God does the "right thing"? Are you kidding me?

      November 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • JoJo

      What a very CHRISTIAN comment, and no less, from a self proclaimed intellectual ! You could do better than this.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      Easy guys, Christians get angry too. So do intellectuals.

      But yeah, your blazing capital letters of fury aren't doing your "peaceful, loving religion" any favors, kalikim.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • krb

      I totally agree, they are shams.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • tsmooth

      Kalikim...just so you know – Joel Osteen does not make any money from the Church – he takes NO salary. So if people give money to the church, none of it goes to Joel – sorry to disappoint you.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • highpants

      The only thing in Joel & Victoria Osteens' hearts is a chance to make more money. A message of hope and inspiration does not come from teaming up with Mark Burnett on a reality show, ala Donald Trump, just more money for the Osteen's what a big disappointment to an ardent follower. Good bye Mr. Osteen.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  20. Hater Hater

    Yes, people who believe in God and living a better life need to think for themselves. Start living a self absorbed life that means nothing other than fulfilling your own needs. Do not worry about others because you clearly have everything figured out and you can sit around with a smart a$$ look on your face because you are clearly superior to any silly people that would believe that we are something more than a spawn of primordial soup.

    November 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      Or, I dunno, do the right thing because it's right?

      Or because you don't want society to disintegrate? Or because you believe in the potential of humanity? Or because you are an altruistic individual? Or (let's not be picky) because you're a self-serving believer in reciprocity and you want society to be in your debt?

      There are a thousand reasons to do good that have nothing to do with God. Your argument is inherently flawed.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Christians do good in the hope of eternal reward and from fear of eternal punishment.

      Atheists do good in the hope that future generations will benefit from the deeds we do today.

      November 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • jerrod

      @ warmest ghost. What says christians dont care about future generations and their needs alongside atheists. One is no less intelligent or altruisitic than the other, just humans who have made a choice based on experience, findings, or personal upbringings.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • warmesTghosT


      Atheism is more intelligent than Christianity, sorry. Modern science has disproven many of the Bible's assertions, like the story of Genesis, the Exodus, the Flood, etc etc. I'm not saying that a lot of Christians aren't good, honest, caring people, but they are at the very least intellectually dishonest/willfully ignorant about much of reality.

      November 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Hater Hater

      @warmest ghost There it is, atheists are smarter because they do not believe in some silly story similar to the tooth fairy, Easter Bunny, or Santa Clause correct? "Modern Science" also has us believing that global warming is our fault and not a natural cycle of the Earth. I will keep marching to the beat of being "intellectually dishonest/willfully ignorant about much of reality" while atheists walk around with the certainty of what "Modern Science" has to offer...

      November 30, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • warmesTghosT

      Well at least you can admit you're proud to be ignorant.

      You would rather believe a comfortable lie than face the cold reality. Typical human nature. I've been guilty of it myself at times.

      November 30, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.