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. Griever

    But people, people, CLOWNS ARE PEOPLE, TOO... for goodness sake.

    November 30, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  2. Texas Reasonable

    "Reality" from someone hardly connected to it. The mission he speaks of is "mining for dollars". His greed and delusion knows no bounds.

    November 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • agnostrick

      Judgemental are we? Yes, I think we can definitely see that.

      It's not just for the religious.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Texas Reasonable

      Poor Agnostrick. Agno in the dictionary: aging and agitated. Plus strick. What a piece of work. I'll bet you are lonely and abandoned.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  3. Canadian

    This man is as crooked as his grin. It doesn't take a psychology major to figure out that anyone, trying so hard to maintain such a squeaky clean image is severely overcompensating. Its only a matter of time until this clown follows the likes of Ted Haggard and Jim Baker. Or worse, Jim Jones.

    America! WAKE UP! You are better than this.

    November 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • agnostrick

      Sounds like he's a lot better person than you are and you can't stand the thought of that.

      Judgementalism – it's not just for the religious.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • wonderwall

      Jim Jones forced people to drink his poison at gunpoint. There is no comparison.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • KillYourTelevision

      I have seen Mr. Osteen without his smile. There was serious opposition to his acquisition of Compaq Center in Houston. The gloves came off then. Not squeaky clean. More like ready to get all in your sh-t if things didn't straighten out.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Canadian

      The Mindless following of another human being can lead any way the leader wills it to. Jim Jones had a starting point, just like our Smiley friend here will likely have an interesting finishing point. Sure it may not be cool-aid. But then again maybe it will!

      Leave the religious fanaticism to the Arab world, sit back and see how well that will work out, and be glad you chose fact and reason over blind faith.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  4. Dave

    I don't see what is so wrong with Joel doing an "Extreme Home Makeover" type of show. He spreads a positive message. If you don't like him, just change the channel. I don't see what is wrong with him being a wealthy man– would you feel better if he was poor? Why is it that athletes, the Kardashians, famous housewives, rappers, "Sister wives", and other morons could only be on TV making millions? Let Joel spread a good message and give to others on his new show.

    November 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • IAGuy

      Dave, well said. I think a lot of the issues with many posting here is they have great trouble with POSITIVE messages. That's why they would never consider the possibility of seeing lives truly impacted, people being changed, families being transformed, and seeing hope renewed. Yeah, what a horrible concept!

      November 30, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  5. Frank

    Strange dude, but he sure is rolling in the dough.

    November 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  6. agnostrick

    The venomous hate and bigotry ever-present on this board is absolute proof that human beings need a savior, whether or not one exists, I don't know. But you need one. "Clown" "devil" "steals" "poison" – if there is no savior, then you are forever stuck in your hate and arrogance. You probably are either way, but if there was a "Way" then at least there would be the theoretical possibility that the angry haters like you all could be cured. Cheers.

    November 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • wonderwall

      I find a positive message from Joel, but I can see that his TV persona, mullet, and expensive looking mega church can be a real turn off. Despite all that I enjoy his show. If anything it's food for thought and I don't always agree with what he's saying- like anyone else preaching.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Griever

      there are of course smaller men in dimensions applicable to brilliance, but when compared to E. Pound only the most elegant of verse writers profers a code worth imitating.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • sam


      November 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  7. Tammy

    There's just something about Joel Osteen that gives me the creeps, worst than what Pastor John Haegee! They're both wolves in sheep clothing. Mr. Osteen just as an FYI you lay with the devil you're going to get burned! Have watched ANY of the reality shows that out there?

    November 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • agnostrick

      Pretty judgemental. A trait clearly not reserved just for believers.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  8. Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

    Nothing like doing your alms before men.

    November 30, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  9. whoopie

    What rock did you guys crawl out from? Did you not read that his is the largest congretion in the country, you all are pathetic evil mongering hypocrites

    November 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • wonderwall

      It's easy to bash things on the internet.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Griever

      Yes, I agree. I'm bashing my head in as I speak!

      November 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Faith-Isn't-A-Preacher

      And your reaction is exemplary of what?

      November 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • Griever

      It's just a parttime job.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  10. Writerscramp

    Does anyone else see the irony of a Televangelist developing a Reality TV Show ? Televangelists ... the one category of people who know the least about the definition of the word 'reality'. In the words of George Carlin, "Remember folks, God loves you, he loves you and he needs money."

    November 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Grigory Dashevsky

      I'm agree with you.Can he help to find job for people?????????? It's all about M O N E Y !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      November 30, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  11. Glazed Look

    He looks so evil

    November 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  12. Jeff

    Yee haw! Mr. Burnett has found a way to tap the mother lode - that revenue stream that never ends, known as evangelical "giving." Shame on Mark Burnett for helping this shyster polish his giant turd of a criminal enterprise. Then again, shame on Mark Burnett anyway, for pioneering this bottom-of-the-barrel genre that has ruined entertainment television.

    November 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • wonderwall

      There's not much on TV worth watching anyway.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • geno

      Amen brother. Reality TV is as bad as it get. Osteen joining in is just perfect. What a joke!

      November 30, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  13. Rabia Diluvio

    NOOOO. I fear the teeth. The overabundance of artificially white teeth.


    November 30, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  14. IAGuy

    For all of those posting comments who seem to be against religion and Christianity, I presume this means you will not be celebrating Christmas at all. There is really no need for you to take any Christmas time off of work, enjoy any kind of family Christmas dinner, and I suppose your family won't be giving OR receiving gifts of any kind either. I always found it intriguing that non-Christians never seemed to have any problem in wanting time off / "celebrating" Christmas and Easter. Who are the big actors in those situations? You may want to look in the mirror if you're a candidate for this scenario.

    I am so thankful that I am not so centered on "ME" that I can realize there is so much to life than beating down others for their beliefs. I would rather be open to seeing Osteen's project than so much of the other trash I other seem on TV.

    November 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Griever

      ready, set,...shut-up!

      November 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Rabia Diluvio

      Erm fail.

      I am not one of the people you are addressing, but you know as well as I do that both Christmas and Easter have become secular holidays as well and MANY people the world over celebrate it without the religious connotations. You also know as well as I do that both holidays were placed at that time in the liturgical cycle to coincide with solstice/equinox celebrations that already existed and to a certain extent supplant them while infusing them with Christian symbolism. Not that this is a bad thing, but celebrating Christmas is just celebrating Christmas, with or without Christ.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Brett

      I will be celebrating Winter Solstice which is a tradition thousands of years older than your Christmas, thank you.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Grigory Dashevsky

      it's hard to understand you!

      November 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • BobTheBuilder

      I assure you, what this dude does has very little to do with real Christianity.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Steve the Athiest

      I enjoy the days off, I enjoy time with my family, and I also enjoy exchanging presents with them. I don't need to pray to a make believe being in the sky to do that. And I most certainly do not need to associate with organized religions of any kind. They are a disease to humankind, and have left far more death and destruction throughout history than good. And for your holy Christmas, it's now nothing but a business. The only thing it still shares with religion and god is that all 3 were invented by man.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • Griever

      Good old Steve, passing down a vacuous and non-subtantive belief system to his family.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • wonderwall

      @Steve, I see your death and destruction and raise you charity work and selfless giving. Obviously not all charities are religious but many in the US are and are effective especially in this time of recession and need.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • SteveTheAtheist

      @wonderwall, first don't call it my "death and destruction". From the sound of it, it's yours. And I did say more than the good hinting that there is good it just isn't near the amount of bad. Secondly, you said it, don't need religion to give to charity. I donate and help out organizations like Habitat for Humanity because it's the right thing to do, not because I'm trying to get into a gated community up in the clouds.

      @Griever, I get the feeling you can't tolerate anyone who doesn't share your own belief system. How did all those animals, reptiles, and insects fit on that Ark? (Smells like........BS)

      November 30, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Griever

      @Steve. I'm pretty tolerant but I think you are laughable, predictable, moderately intelligent, and a total post-modern man. Be proud of your soul-lessness!

      December 1, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  15. David

    Joel preaches a social gospel, a watered down version of what the unbeliever is supposed to hear. Jesus is the Way, The Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. John 14:6. For all have sinned and falled short of the glory of God. We (mankind) need a Saviour. This Saviour is Jesus Christ who came into the world to live among us, was kille on a Roman cross for the sins of the world. He is coming back for His Church and to judge the world. The truth is Jesus Christ. He is the only one who can save you. Thank You Jesus for dying on the cross for my sins. Receive Jesus today as your Saviour. Admit you cannot save yourself. Ask Jesus to forgive you and be the Lord of your life. You will have the promise of a home in Heaven forever when you die. Read the book of Romans and the the gospel of John in the bible to find what you need to hear. Mr. Osteen, I believe that you are leading many astray. There is greater judgement on teachers and preachers of the word. I think the premise of the reality show is good. You have an affect on people yes, but they need to hear the truth. The truth is Jesus. John 3:16. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life".

    November 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • wonderwall

      It may be watered to you, but thankfully there are different versions of Christianity. It depends on what you subscribe to.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Mark

      When you start to change the truth it is no longer the teaching of the Bible but what you want it to be. Christ is the dividing rod. It is not a subjective message. If you start to compromise on any part of the Bible then it becomes an illegitiment and incomplete truth. . II Timothy 3:15-17

      November 30, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • wonderwall

      @Mark: Bible interpretations are many. People generally follow what they believe or what their pastor tells them regardless. Which is why people shop for churches.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
    • Mildred the Mouth

      It must be really great to have all the answers, all wrapped up in a neat little box, with a neat red bow. Wow, you actually think you have ALL the truth don't you ? How sad. maybe someday, it will all crack open, and you will grow up.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  16. Dan

    I think I'm going to be sick.

    November 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  17. hippypoet

    nothing more christian then a money making scheme by explo-itation of the ignorant. The man truly is like jesus, in the sense that he uses people to make his lifestyle work. Desp-icable human being!

    November 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • Griever

      not like Jesus. Got that?

      November 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • hippypoet

      so you are gonig to tell me that jesus didn't live off people and there "kindness".. he had 12 people who helpped him con others into feeding them, clothing them!!
      seriously like the J man!

      November 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Griever

      enough of your anarchic flabbiness tart-boy.

      November 30, 2011 at 5:04 pm |
  18. Griever

    This will make a spectacle out of something that should be done in secret. It will also cheapen the sacrificial work of traditional missionaries by their association with one of Joel's "mission" trips. How soul-squuashing is this?

    November 30, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  19. jhutch42

    This will all be tax free I assume.

    November 30, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  20. Johnny 5

    Joel is still selling poison I see.

    November 30, 2011 at 4:51 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.