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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. Meki60

    Looks like it to me and not surprised.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  2. Bill D.

    The picture of Obama looks like Obama in his 40's. The picture on the right looks like Obama will look in his late 50's. Almost looks like a computer age enhancement job.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  3. thetruthshallkilldemocrats

    Obama is the devil, killing innocent people with illegal drone attacks and hillary is hades as this nasty looking women looks like she been dead for 100 years.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And you're still in middle school.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  4. Providence

    Look like satan? not sure what that means. The atheists sure do act like satan. It is not about the looks, it about the way satan and his coterie-the atheists act!

    March 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • sam

      Wow, that was so clever! Make sure and look under your bed for satan tonight before turning off the light.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Saints, sinners and demons

      If you are not worshipping God, you are worshipping satan!

      March 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • sam

      How about not worshipping anyone?

      March 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oooh, so now atheists are part of Satan's "coterie"?

      How does that work, considering there's no such being?

      March 18, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • marks320

      If you have spent enough time around satan to know how he acts, I would imagine you also know what he looks like.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • How to spot satan

      He is the master trickster, he tempts, deceives and entices you into doing evil things;like watching p o r n, f o r nicating, cheating, lying, disobeying Gods's commands.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • sam

      So satan is actually that ShamWow infomercial guy??

      March 18, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Mick

      "If you are not worshipping God, you are worshipping satan!"
      Not true. Some of us are merely non-participants. We're not part of your fantasy.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  5. Mindie in Indie

    looks more like Leonard Nimoy than anyone else.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
  6. oldowl

    This is a sadly misguided piece of propaganda by the s c u m b a g producers of this b l a s p h e m o u s P.O.S. On top of character assassination, they have the gall to lie about it, when the evidence against them is d a m n i n g! Only God knows what is in their hearts, and they may fool a whole herd of right wing swine, but they won't fare so well, when it comes their time to give account of this little stunt before God's just judgement.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Goodguy6410

      Someone else who "has drunk" all the Kool-Aid. I think this one even bathed in it. Unbelievable. Have you sworn your soul to the Dark One?

      March 18, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • The real Tom

      The election was over in November, DumbGuy. Get over it. Your side lost, and big. There's a reason for that: most people don't agree with you.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Goodguy6410

      Tommy, I'll agree with you: there's a LOT of sheep in America. However, I wouldn't say a popular vote of 50.4% to 48.1% is big...

      March 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Bull. It was decisive.

      Again, dumbbell, not everyone who voted for Obama is a fvcking sheep. There are plenty of us who agree with his point of view on many issues. But go ahead and keep generalizing, honey. It makes you look ever so smart.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Oh, and if it wasn't "big," then why is the GOP having an "autopsy" report? Why are they trying to build a new image? Why are they so desperate to change their stance on immigration?

      March 18, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  7. ajk68

    If this were Bush, people would be applauding it as hilariously funny.

    March 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Goodguy6410

      Exactly. You see, there is a double-standard. Bush is somehow the devil and Obama is our blameless, perfect deity. If you took half the stuff that Obama has done and said and attributed it to Bush, there would be a HUGE outcry.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • sam

      Well, no. There was a freakout a little while ago about a Bush mask being used as one of the heads on a pole in Game of Thrones.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • sam

      @Goodguy ....uh, no.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • The real Tom

      More bullsh!t, Goodguy. Keep on generalizing, though. It seems to be par for the course.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Goodguy6410

      *Sigh* Tommy...it's time to go upstairs and have dinner. Your mom says dinner is ready.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Did ya get tired of using "I'm rubber, you're glue," DumbGuy?

      March 18, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Tired Marine

      @sam uh yes. Has he closed Gitmo? Did he add to the troop levels in Afghanistan? Has he cancelled the patriot act? Has he expanded the drone progerals screamed bloody murder at Bush for.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Tired Marine

      *edited* @sam uh yes. Has he closed Gitmo? Did he add to the troop levels in Afghanistan? Has he cancelled the patriot act? Has he expanded the drone program? All things liberals screamed bloody murder at Bush for.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  8. John

    I can see the resemblance to satan, but to me the satan figure looks a lot more like Emperor Palpatine/ Darth Sideous from Star Wars. oh well, even if it does resemble Obama, that what you get when you become the pitch man for s od omy. (Dont censor me CNN for writing the s od word, you liberal na z i ba st erds .)

    March 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • thomas

      I thought he looked more like your dad

      March 18, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  9. Scholar

    Charlton Heston will always be associated with the role of Moses from the film TEN COMMANDMENTS.

    No matter who is chosen to play the role of a character, someone will always resemble that actor, as there are a small number of genotype human appearance factors

    March 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  10. Disgrunteled American

    the was and angel ! the angel of light!was kicked out of heaven by god for trying to convince 1/3 of the angels that he should be a God!kinda like Obumma and the dems and librals!

    March 18, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • End Religion

      whew, you might wanna get out of your trailer and read a book or something...

      March 18, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Oliver Cowdery

      You speak code words only familiar to the TBM Mormon. You can take your adulterous prophet, namely Joseph Smith and cram it.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  11. Oline

    There seem few similarities to the actor that plays Satan and the current US president. Skin pigmentation is slightly similar and brow structure also. Give me a break folks there are similarities in a lot of people. It means nothing. Or then to distract from other issues.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  12. Disgrunteled American

    Obumma is not the devil but he sure is working for him!

    March 18, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • The real Tom

      It's "disgruntled," dummy. Tells you what the Republican cuts to education have done for you, doesn't it?

      March 18, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Elexsor

      @The Real Tom: ROFL. Yep.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  13. pjoe

    Typical liberals ... always relabeling things.

    Hell is now called Kenya? Really?

    March 18, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Ed

      pjoe's real name is "stupid". At least, that's what everyone who knows him calls him.

      March 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  14. pjoe

    Typical liberals ... always relabeling things.

    The new name for Hell is Kenya? Really?

    March 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  15. Jackie

    Long before Obama we had no problem with Satan at lease religious leaders and Glen Beck didn't. The best Satan roles were Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Tim Curry and Oscar qualifity role George W. Bush did for 8 years and even the people in Iraq saw Bush by his actions as the real Satan.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  16. Irving

    The History Channel is just the motion picture version of History for Dummies. Notice that they admittedly went to theologians for advice, not to professional historians. Want to learn history?; then take a few college courses; go to a research library and read some books by historical scholars and articles in refereed academichistory journals.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • shanbmcgregor

      Well said. Mythology Channel maybe.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  17. He knows Evil

    OMG.. Obama looks just like Satan !!!

    I mean its not just a resemblance
    OBAMA has to be SATAN

    Look at the spelling of their names:
    OBAMA
    SATAN
    both 5 letters
    and if you take the B from OBAMA and the S from SATAN
    you get the initials B.S.
    Barry Soretoro

    This CAN NOT be a coincidence. God has revealed SATAN.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Austin?

      March 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I can see why you believe in the bible. Did you think that made any sense?

      March 18, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • /Sarcasm Font

      Learn to recognize sarcasm much?

      March 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • thomas

      wow and your mother had him,,,,,,,,,,

      March 18, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Harangue

      This whole article smells like a giant load of Barry Soretoro.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
  18. yarrov

    but I think God and Satan are one. When God is happy, God is God. When God is mad, God is Satan.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • sam

      Someone needs to get the poor bipolar guy some meds!

      March 18, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  19. gmar

    This is a deeply offensive headline, regardless of the refutation on the story inside. Any comparison between President Obama, a deeply human and compassionate man, and the mythical figure of the "devil" reflects badly on those who would even entertain such an obviously misguided idea. I think I've heard it all now.

    March 18, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Goodguy6410

      You have drank all the Kool-Aid my friend.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • The real Tom

      It's "HAVE DRUNK", you imbecile.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Goodguy6410

      Fair enough Tommy! You "HAVE DRUNK" all the Kool-Aid. Satisfied?

      March 18, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • The real Tom

      No, it isn't "fair enough." Idiots like you presume that anyone who is a Democrat or a liberal thinks Obama is a saint and a perfect leader. Stop being such a dumb azz.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • The real Tom

      The ass wipes like you who make racist comments about the president are disgusting.

      Even if the premise of the article is ridiculous, the fact that you think anyone who DOESN'T make such comments or others that are unfounded is someone who has drunk the koolaid just tells everyone what a fvcking idiot you are.

      March 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • gmar

      It's okay. Stories like this just make me realize that I need to get my priorities straight and use my time better. Reading "news" created by fundamentally ignorant TV shows and the ideas they are based on and then being drawn into an argument about them is just very silly. My bad

      March 18, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  20. End Religion

    http://youtu.be/yuoXVjgqir4

    March 18, 2013 at 6:50 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.