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. JPR

    The words "reality" and "religion" don't belong in the same sentance.

    November 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • jms58

      Amen brother.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      The words "reality" and "television" don't belong in the same sentence.

      November 30, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • tmi123

      The words "sentance" and "sentence" don't belong in the same sentence.

      November 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Actually if you look at it as entertainment for the simple minded, they seem to be analogous

      November 30, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
    • clg

      The letter "A" and "S-E-N-T-N-C-E" don't belong in the same word!

      November 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  2. myfaith

    Beware of false prophets!! Beware of this money hungry cult church. "Preaches to thousands" and is not a minister? Run as fast as you can

    November 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  3. Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

    Isn't he the definition of a cult leader?
    He has followers due to his charisma and he thrives on their attention.
    So far he hasn't taken it as far as James Warren 'Jim' Jones. But at some point there is a tipping point when he takes it too far or his followers become disillusioned or hostile.

    November 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  4. jbyrne

    Oh goodness! A show that shows people helping one another. This is so terriblel!

    This is going to cut into some great reality shows like "keeping up with the Kardashians", "16 and pregnant", and " the Jersey Shore".

    You people should be complaining about all the crap on MTV!

    I pray for all of you....

    November 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Religion is stupid

      You are missing the point of some of the anger here.. Its not that he wants to help people.. it that he is taking millions and millions of dollars to do it. It's not entertainment ?? He is taking money from folks who really need it & could be using it for more important things and hoarding the millions for himself. You support this ??? You and whomever else supports this are sick & misguided. I, personally, would pay handsomely to stand in the octogon with this guy to see who walks out. By the way, I'd do this free.. all profits would go to feeding the homeless....

      November 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  5. J. Scott

    Is Joel Osteen a false prophet, of course. It is sickening that he is able to profit massively off of the mental weakness of sheep but at the same time these people need such services and he is filling the void. For that, I admire his ability to profit so successfully and continue to build his racket through reality tv and whatever else. He gets paid and his congregation gets the hope and confidence they are missing through these magical ideas that there is a god who created you specifically as you are and has a detailed plan for your entire life.

    November 30, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Religion is stupid

      Right on J Scott.. you nailed it !

      November 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  6. Steve in JXN

    Reality? Osteen? I don't think even the Botox he uses is real.

    November 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
    • sam

      Too hard to tell...can't see past his teeth.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  7. Canuckreader

    TV ministers =scam artist

    November 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  8. Dan

    I bet the cash generated will be tax free.......

    November 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  9. KC

    This just gives me the creeps.

    November 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  10. Steve

    I am a Christ follower, and this type of news really annoys me. Christ tells us when we do good things in His name, we are to not draw public attention to it. This of itself causes me to doubt Joels sincerity in preaching the gospel as Christ directed. I also have trouble with anyone man – particularily a minister having this much money and appearing to flaunt it. I am not saying Christians can not be materially wealthy, I just question the sincerity and the method with which he got it. The scriptures tell us that the gospel will divide people, and even cause some to be outcast, and some to be persecuted and even killed because of their faith in Christ. This is a far different message that the "prosperity" gospel that is often preached on TV...those televangelist who tell us with a smile that God wants us to be wealthy and have every "good" gift we can grab with our hands. That obviously appeals to people, and takes attention away from what it really means to be a Christ follower – sacrificial giving of everything we have been blessed with, enduring hard times, caring more for others than we care for our material possessions. And what happens when the bottom drops out of everything we know to have seen all that we thought was secure, and the world going to hell in a hand basket – which incidently, it already is. Does that mean that God (that would be Jehovah, not allah) has abandoned us – NO!. But it will shake those out that are not sincere. Be careful who you listen to and who you follow – both need to Be Christ.

    November 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Religion is stupid

      Unfortunately this is the norm not the exception and is a huge reason many who have been on the fence about religion have turned the other way.. The fact these guys can get away with convincing folks looking for a better way, help and/or guidance to give him money angers me to no end. He'll get his one way or another...

      November 30, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • alice

      Amen. If Christ came back today, they'd try to run him out of down the second he turned over the money changer's tables.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
    • LB Colorado

      He won't be doing it in the name of "Jesus", he very rarely speaks of JESUS. That should tell us something there.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  11. jimjones11111

    God’s daily calendar
    1. Intervene in the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Somalia to avert thousands of children from starving to death. Hummmmm….. pass, that is so 90’s. And when will those people ever learn to stop reproducing!
    2. Take steps to avert global destruction caused by the successful development of nuclear weapons by Iran. Hummmm…… I don’t think I got it in me today. And anyways, a little death and destruction will teach those silly humans some type of lesson that can never quite be articulated.
    3. Help Joel Olsteen with the production of his reality program so he can continue to line his pockets and those of his family with limitless wealth, all at the expense of naïve followers. Hell yea! Now that is a project I can get behind! And while I am at it, I should make sure that Tebow is still winning games!

    November 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  12. darntootin

    Honey???!!! Get me mah guuun! I'm gonna have to shoot that new tv we just bought!

    November 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  13. Sarah

    I once reached out to this church for help in a dire family situation and all they said to me was to pray... mu plea was swiftly dismissed.

    November 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • J. Scott

      You didn't donate enough to the church.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Sarah

      Evidently I did not! LOL

      November 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
  14. wheelie

    This guy has no religious background. He was the soundman when his father ran the church. After he died, Joel stepped into the pulpit. He is a great motivational speaker, but preacher, NO!

    November 30, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • martin

      You are absolutely correct. He is np preacher. Just a guy who can pack em in with happy thoughts and a few religous terms. wake up people. the truth is the Bible...nothing more and nothing less.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • darntootin


      November 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Good post Martin. Joel (aka Dr Feelgood) is going to have a rude awakening when he crosses over.


      November 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  15. Religion is stupid

    It irritates me that these so called "good doers" make the kind of money they do off folks that really believe there is a magic man that lives in the sky that needs money and "loves all of us".. What a crock.. I'd like to beat this blinking moron to a pulp given the chance.. Has nothing to do with jealously but more to do with this clown feeding off the weak & feebled minded.. makes me sick..

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

      The people in his building are not weak. Those sitting around watching the Kardashians and occupying wall street are weak. Your just a bigot who has issues with your self worth. too bad!!

      November 30, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Religion is stupid

      I totally disagree with you Martin.. I am a bigot because I do not believe in this nonsense ?? And the folks that believe in this clown ARE weak minded.. its sad to know fellow humans need to fall for the crap this guy spits out.. Shame on you for supporting this.. This guy is laughing all the way to the bank counting his millions as the feeble minded folks give him their last cent hoping for a better life then actually going out and doing something to really make it happoen. Shame on you for supporting it..

      November 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Religion is stupid

      By the way Marty smart guy.. its "you're".. not "your".. wake up moron..

      November 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Actually, he's not feeding off the weak and feeble, he's feeding off the fact that Jesus' truth hasn't been preached in over 50-60 years so who's to stop him? Certainly none of those lazies sitting in his audience. They just carry their Bible under their armpits and have no clue to open their Bibles and read Jesus' truth.


      November 30, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • krep

      I supposed that if scantly clad women can get on TV and show off everything there is to show without ANY moral decency, you can applaud that but if someone has the financial resources to put something positive on TV you oppose it. And the bigger loser is....who????

      November 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lore

      These "prosperity gospel" preachers have a few motives other than the milk of human kindness... prosperous followers have more money to give to the churches, and unfortunately, money is power, so the churches will wield more of it as a result. Prosperous followers are also able to be influential in society.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • sam

      Crap, HS is here. Game over.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • TXnBudz

      I totally disagree with 'Religion is stupid"; not only in his/her name but in his/her idea.
      There's no doubt that there are people out there who try and make money off of religion, it's happened before.
      I don't know Mr. Olsteen enough to judge which one he is, I just know he tries to preach a good word on his Sunday's broadcast.
      I tend to look at this in a positive light in that he is trying to show people, through a popular tv production style, how a group of people other than the Kardasians are actually in this world to make it a better place. I think trying to combine the obviously popular 'reality tv' style of production and spreading God's word is a good thing and at least an attempt to do some good in this world.
      Mr. Olsteen will have to answer to The Lord when he passes, no doubt, but trying to teach a generation of people about the word of God by using the reality tv method that seemingly appeals to that type of person I think is a good idea.
      If it fails miserably or causes people to turn away from Christ then I think it would be safe to say you can start the criticizing; until then I'd like to see what it's about.
      In the mean time try not to rush to judge too harshly the over 3 billion people in this world who believe in some kind of religion or a higher power above themselves. Simply writing it off as you so ignorantly defined it as 'stupid' or that it's simply a mass dilusion is a very uneducated and careless mistake on your part.

      November 30, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  16. Allabouthim

    More power to him if he could convince low self esteem fools to follow a man .and give their riches to him. There is nothing wrong with giving 10% to a location that's going to help the unfortunate, But to make ONE man filthy rich, HELLLLL NO!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 30, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  17. itsallaboutyou

    Doc Vestibule
    "The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man.
    But it's lovely work if you can stomach it."
    – Robert Heinlein

    November 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • PallasAthene

      That was in 'Stranger in a Strange Land' I think. Good book. Heinlein was instrumental in me seeing religion for what it really is, and boosted me towards atheism!

      November 30, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  18. Jenn

    These guys always make me think of Tender Branson from Palahniuk's "Survivor". lol

    November 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  19. racing mom

    This is really a bad idea. There are plenty of good Christian people in this country who do not attend a big fancy church, and the impact they make on their community is awesome.

    November 30, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • martin

      So true!

      November 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  20. joco

    A lot of jealous haters out there...
    This man, his family, and his church do more good for others than any of you could even think of.
    Good job CNN.

    November 30, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • jnab


      November 30, 2011 at 3:42 pm |


      November 30, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • sam

      He's nothing more than a motivational speaker who throws religion into his schtick. The moment there's no $ in this venture? He'll move on.

      November 30, 2011 at 3:58 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.