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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. Ken

    With the hoodies that the angels and Satan are wearing in this series I think they're trying to copy Star Wars Jedi more than anything else.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  2. jameskatt

    Nonsense. Mitt Romney is satan incarnate.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  3. California Conservative

    The truth hurts apparently.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  4. JeffJ

    LOL

    Guess for once the arts imitating real life.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  5. RealGlaird

    By responding, I am being hypocritical. This article is so outrageous and shabby, it should never have been dignified by anyone's comment.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  6. Ken

    If the New Testament is supposed to be the product of eye-witness accounts recorded by later authors who, exactly, did these guys interview to get the story of this temptation?

    March 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  7. Bob

    Why is CNN dignifying this excrement with a 'news' story? Is CNN trying to compete with the National Enquirer?

    March 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  8. Blazing Sunrise

    Ohhh, stop!!!!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  9. profbam

    Typical fantasy. A white European looking Jesus, rather than a stocky swarthy Semite, and a dark skinned Satan. Satan was a construct: he appeared in Genesis as a serpent and then disappeared until after the Israelites were freed from the Babylonian captivity by the Persians. Why did he reappear as an angel? The Persians were Zorastarians–they believed in an angel of good and an angel of evil and by doing what pleased the angel of good one could have an afterlife and bask in the glory of God. Does that sound familiar? So afterwards you get the Book of Job with Satan conversing with God and so on. The Bible does not provide a description of Satan's appearance, so presenting him as a dark foreboding figure reflects the producers prejudices. But, then so is the rest of the production. I am sure that those with weaker brains will eat this up.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Yup

      The entire bible is fiction so they can make up anything they want that's the beauty of it, it will still go along well with the bible. It's all fake.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • August

      Spot on comment.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • fintastic

      Yup, that's the ole' book of pick-n-choose!

      March 18, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  10. The Dude

    Are people really watching this cr@p anyway? Are they showing everything that is in the Bible? Like bashing children against the rocks?

    March 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  11. Charles Gannon

    Watched Bill & Teds Bogus Journy last night, I think the Gtimm Reaper looked a lot like Gary Busey.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • JeffJ

      that movie is hilarious! but so unknown to many.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  12. RainCityLady

    And all this time I thought Dick Cheney was the Anti Christ. Who knew?

    March 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  13. Tim Shermer

    Why didn't they just have Pee Wee Herman play Satan?

    March 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • JeffJ

      b/c he's the sith lord father of Sheldon

      March 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  14. Edwin

    He does have similarities... I can see that. So what?

    Move on, nothing here but people with too much time on their hands.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Don'tForget

      So if you were a well known figure and someone portrayed Satan in your image you'd be cool with it huh?

      March 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  15. goingsearching

    that definitely looked like Obama and God is trying to show us the truth about him!

    March 18, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Suz

      I hope you are going in search of a brain the one you have is faulty.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Why didn't god show us the truth about priest molesting young boys.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • fintastic

      moron

      March 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • sam

      It's so amazing that god did the casting for this little series. What a guy.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  16. User-301

    How stupid – First, the guy is an actor. Does Obama look like the actor? who cares. The bigger question – Do we really know what Satan looks like? I thought the bible clearly suggest that Satan had blonde hair and blue eyes so this is a clear fact that Obama isn't Satan because he looks nothing like George Bush.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Don'tForget

      The real Jesus didn't have long straight hair or a white complexion either. Americans wouldn't be able to cope if they knew he actually had dark skin and dark curly hair which would have been traditional for the part of the world he was born into.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Saboth

      Yes, I've seen Dick Cheney.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • JeffJ

      "Does Obama look like the actor?"

      Well, Obama IS an actor though. One of the best in the White House.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  17. Barry Obama, community organizer

    I'm sure the actual anti-Christ won't be using a teleprompter to communicate with the low information
    masses that I have to deal with here in the USA.

    March 18, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • JeffJ

      It is more likely the actor who played satan is the same actor that is playing our president.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
  18. jeezy

    http://www.infowars.com

    March 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  19. doc

    Anyone notice that Jesus looks like Sarah Palin when she isn't wearning glasses?

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

      That's ridiculous, everyone knows the actress who plays Sarah Palin in real life is Tina Fey.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  20. PraiseTheLards

    Why was this on the History channel? It should have been on the Fairy-Tale channel...

    March 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Suz

      Good one, agree whole-heartedly.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Chuck

      I'm wondering why this didn't make it to the trash can.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      That was my first thought. If they were truly going to show history they should have shown Council of Nicea and how the bible came to be the "Word of God".

      March 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • JeffJ

      Small words from small mind, attacking that which it does not understand.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      You have to admit it was comical to watch keeping in mind people believe this as the truth ...lol

      March 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • The Smug Channel

      Some know it all jerk follows Christians around and yells at them to provide proof and then sticks his fingers in his ears and yells "LALALALALALALA" when they try to talk to him.

      March 18, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      The Smug Channel

      Some know it all jerk follows Christians around and yells at them to provide proof and then sticks his fingers in his ears and yells "LALALALALALALA" when they try to talk to him.
      ...

      You do understand faith??????? Out of the absence of credible evidence, faith is required. As sumption and hearsay do not count as evidence. Warm fuzzy feelings do not count as evidence. Like the magic discs with the mormons and any other magical things from a god (such as the stone tablets moses brought down) they are missing.....HINT all direct things from the gods is always missing. Seeing the pattern there..... also myths and magical beings are borrowed in some aspect from one group to another. The "wandering" Jews are no different.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:49 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.