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March 18th, 2013
01:59 PM ET

Producer: Claim of Obama-Satan likeness nonsense

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – The third episode of the History Channel's miniseries “The Bible” was supposed to be remembered for the brutality of Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar, the strength of Daniel in the lion’s den, and the birth of Jesus Christ.

But after viewers claimed there was a striking resemblance between Satan’s human form and President Barack Obama, that probably won't be the case.

Buzz on Twitter quickly grew. According to Topsy.com on Monday, there were an estimated 20,000 tweets containing the words “Obama” and “Satan” since the 9:00 p.m. ET hour on Sunday, the hour in which Satan appears in the two-hour show.

In a statement, miniseries producer Mark Burnett called claims there was a resemblance "utter nonsense."

Burnett said the actor who played Satan, Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, "is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor. He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics - including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President."

Ouazanni has had roles in two biblical TV movies - "Jeremiah" and "The Ten Commandments."

Executive producer of the miniseries Roma Downey, Burnett's wife, added, "Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our President, who is a fellow Christian. False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible."

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Satan appears during the miniseries’ retelling of the Temptation of Christ, when Jesus fasted for 40 days in the Judean Desert. Satan tests Jesus’ faith, asking him to make bread out of stone and jump from a cliff, but he refuses each temptation and returns to the Sea of Galilee to begin his ministry.

In the desert, Satan is draped in a long, black, hooded robe and with a slight silver tint to his face.

Both Downey and Burnett supported Obama's first campaign for president in 2008, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Downey gave $5,000 to the Obama Victory Fund and $2,700 to the Democratic National Committee in 2008. Burnett also donated to Obama's first campaign - $2,300 in 2007.

Neither gave money to Obama's 2012 campaign.

While the show was airing, tweets poured in noting the resemblance.

[tweet https://twitter.com/glennbeck/status/313120671297306624%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/lkspringer/status/313470968448315392%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/DanAmira/status/313491508391182336%5D

Not everyone on Twitter agreed, though.

[tweet https://twitter.com/joshuadubois/status/313489150118608896%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/jbouie/status/313498892148830208%5D

[tweet https://twitter.com/scottgrimm1/status/313652372561858560%5D

After three episodes, the show has scored strong ratings. Its first episode drew 13.1 million viewers, ratings that trumped CBS’s “60 Minutes” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” The second episode drew 10.8 million viewers.

Ratings for the third installment in the five-week miniseries have not been released.

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The project has been a three-and-a-half year process for The History Channel and for Burnett and Downey. Burnett - who is better known as a king of reality television, with “Survivor,” “The Voice” and “The Apprentice” all under his name - told CNN earlier this month that this project was “personal.”

“It was time for an updating, adding fresh visual life to a sacred text,” Burnett said.

Both Downey and Burnett were raised Catholic, Burnett in England and Downey in Ireland. They still regularly attend Mass in Los Angeles. Growing up, both watched the classic biblical films that the Hollywood of yesteryear churned out, like “The Ten Commandments” and “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

To film their Bible series, the duo set off for the southern tip of Morocco with a crew of around 400 people.
CNN Belief: Reality TV Goliath takes up Bible miniseries challenge, hopes for better outcome

Burnett and Downey consulted a wide range of pastors and academics, including a major evangelical leader and a Catholic cardinal.

Their advisory panel consisted of many people from varied backgrounds familiar with sharing the stories of the Bible, rather than a who’s who of biblical academics.

Joel Osteen, a popular television preacher and pastor of the 30,000-member Lakewood church in Houston, was among those consulted. Osteen and Burnett are friends and were developing a television series together that went on the back burner during the production of this series. Osteen even took his family to Morocco during some of the filming.

While the History Channel owns the exclusive North American rights to the project, Burnett and Downey own the rights to global distribution and theatrical airings, which are in the works. The project also has a book tie-in, games and apps.

- CNN’s Eric Marrapodi and Eric Weisbrod contributed to this report.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Bible

soundoff (2,474 Responses)
  1. rufus

    looks like a cross between the O man and Travon, cuz of the hoodie. Hides the Dumbo ears.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
  2. Bible Clown©

    Oh, come on, of course it was. Did anyone really think this show wasn't about the mid-term elections coming up? Norquist spent his pocket change on this, and they were claiming God was helping them with special effects before it was released. Joke's on anyone who watched this.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • He knows Evil

      God works in mysterious ways to reveal Evil.

      It's like God sent Pope Francis to combat Evil.

      Now God has revealed Evil for all to see as the image of OBAMA.

      WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Maybe pope Francis was sent to show the church how to molest boys without getting caught.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  3. mec

    I think the correct phrase is: "Nailed it!"

    March 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  4. joe american

    The devil will come in sheep's clothing...he may very well be. He is running our country to Hell, that if for sure!

    March 18, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Satan's can opener

      The truly frightening thing joe is that, yes, you ARE a typical American.

      March 20, 2013 at 4:17 am |
  5. rapierpoint

    dragnet767 – if it's just fairy tales then why are the left, etc so upset? Heck, the Scorpion King looked like the Rock and I didn't see anyone complaining.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  6. umley

    The actor appeared in the first episode too, behind Eve as she ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. I didn't think he looked like Obama then, or in last night's episode, when he appeared in the desert, tempting Jesus. Last I checked, our president didn't have a silver face.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  7. Be Heeled from Satan!!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0-04VDrCbM
    . . .

    March 18, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  8. joe american

    Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to the spokesman for Obamacare, Satan

    March 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Satan's can opener

      You have no idea whatsoever what "Obamacare" actually IS. Just what other mouth-breathers have told you it is. Do us all a favor and sew your fingers together so you can't type.

      March 20, 2013 at 4:19 am |
  9. Mojonaamdi

    I always thought that the devil was white.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • rapierpoint

      He was in Oh God, You Devil and in "Two of a Kind"

      March 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • David

      Or the collective white devil represented by all whites ..as Malcolm X used to say.......lol

      March 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  10. nuclear mike

    It is the Hand of God or the Will of God...you choose, either Muslim or Christian...but Obama is still the Old One, the Unclean One, the Great Satan, the Evil One...the Devil in blue jeans...

    March 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • dragnet767

      And he is your leader Mike. lol. I think you got to much radiation.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  11. Gary Ganew

    Satan doesn't look like this. I play Scrabble with satan every Thursday and he looks nothing like that.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  12. joe american

    which one should I be afraid of more??

    March 18, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Your mirror.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Religion is not healthy for children nor any living thing

      Which one should you be afraid of? Anyone who actually believes any of this nonsense!

      March 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • fintastic

      Jebus looks like the guy who mows my lawn.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Satan's can opener

      Easy. Look in the mirror.

      March 20, 2013 at 4:20 am |
  13. alexis

    A little bit.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  14. jrcomo35713

    Are you serious....If you respected the President as you should as a citizen, you would not refer him as Satan. I hate to disappoint once again, but this man is no Satan. Do me a favor...go try to figure out why the majority of the population voted FOR Obama. Go figure out what is wrong with your Republican party instead of calling names and being jokers. If you wouldn't be so busy trying to criticize the President's every move, then maybe the country would take you people serious. Look how foolish you look.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • jeezy

      just to let you know im probably more AMERICAN and a "citizen" than you i served the marine corps from 2006-2011 and while in it i saw and opened up my eyes to all the tyranny our goverment does. Get off CNN and go do the research on real news not propaganda.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Why did you leave the military? Was it for a dishonorable discharge? Dubya was president when you joined, did you feel the same way then?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • fintastic

      @cheezus.......... Yes, fox news has some factual stories for you!....

      March 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
  15. jeezy

    Obama has killed thousands of innocent people including children in drone attacks, so might as well see him as the devil. His agenda is not even over yet he still hass 4 years remaining in office.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Akira

      Get real bush killed 400,000 innocents in Iraq including women and children. Where is your outrage for them?? He has an international warrant out for his arrest; he can't leave the US for threat of being arrested.
      Cut your crocodile tears out. The POTUS is no more satan than you are.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • child of midian

      Less than in regular war. Less death than marching troops. Did you forget bombing raids and shooting missiles from off-shore, or the damage Bush 1 & 2 caused and the hundreds of thousands of innocents killed in conventional war? Ignorance, just pure, simple ignorance.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  16. charlie

    I am not surprised..I was so turned off by the bible from the get go..I would prob not be surprised if i looked up the producers of this farce..

    March 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  17. Fiction on History

    Yup...Darth Maul or BO.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  18. joe american

    I think the Devil has a reputation for keeping his word actually......

    March 18, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • fintastic

      No such thing as the 'devil" joe blow...... just mythology........ you confuse reality with fantasy..

      March 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  19. palintwit

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bavou_SEj1E

    March 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  20. scranton

    Stop this nonsense already.

    March 18, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • He knows Evil

      The EVIL that is OBAMA.

      For he is SATAN.
      His Drones killing innocents, men, woman and CHILDREN by the thousands.
      He has given himself the right to kill US citizens without due process.
      He has authorized these drones to silently spy, seek and kill US citizens on US soil.
      SATAN is OBAMA.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Didn't the republican party start the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? How did you feel about the military then?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Please, list the areas where we have had a drone strike in the US? You look like the fool you are.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • fintastic

      These type articles really bring out the religious nut-jobs.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:28 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.