March 18th, 2013
01:59 PM ET

Producer: Claim of Obama-Satan likeness nonsense

By Dan Merica, CNN
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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. SteelSunflower

    Nahhh, looks more like Anthony Bourdain after eating at Guy Fieri's restaurant.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
  2. karl

    How does a ridiculous headline like this even get on the front page of cnn.com? No matter how you feel about politics, religion, or anything else, this is so obviously just here to get a ridiculous sensationalist headline for the purpose of pageviews. No wonder media companies are failing so hard.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  3. billy

    History will show his MO! I think he is of the Devil!

    March 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  4. Dana

    Religion is not healthy for little boy's butts.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  5. James

    This is proof-positive that Obama is evil. How can anyone argue against this evidence? It is rock solid.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
  6. Doris

    You know to carve Manson's face into a pumpkin, just follow these easy steps.
    And if you want to make it into Jesus instead, do the same thing, but just make a little cross on his forehead instead of an "X".

    March 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  7. Paul

    Looks more like the former center for the Boston Celtics. "Chief" was his nickname.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  8. Dana

    It does look like Obama but people need to get over the obsession with absurd magical religious nonsense.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  9. jim atmad

    Everybody knows that Satan looks like Cheney.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  10. NoKidding

    Put a little make up GW Bush and he may look eerily like this picture of Satan.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  11. Some Random Dude

    Seriously CNN?
    Who cares?

    March 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • John

      You clicked; ergo, YOU care. And can we finally kill the juvenile, ironic, and way over-used "Seriously?" Like 'LOL" it sounds like something only a petulant 8-year-old school girl should use.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  12. Kerri

    I see more of a resemblance to Don Knotts. http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/3305/614/1600/knotts.jpg

    March 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Wow – I didn't see it until you said it. YEp, Don Knotts.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
  13. Aacon

    Nothing alike.One is a black man and the other biracial 🙂

    March 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • John

      Uh, use your imagination and just lighten up the actor's complexion. Voilla! A dead-ringer for Obama.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Akira

      Not really. Look up a picture of the actor. Nope, no resemblance at all. Sounds like you're using MORE imagination to connect the two, John.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  14. mickey1313

    Anyone who watches this show is a fool. It is the thiestic garbage that has killed historys programing. It is not history, it is fantisy. It is far more likely that aliens did everything, than god had any part to play. Dumb sorry shristians.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Grace

      I disagree with your theory, but I would have maybe taken you seriously if you actually spelled fantasy right... There goes your argument.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Dana

      Watch out Mickey. The spelling police are after you. You are right though. Religion is a bunch of fictional nonsense for weak-minded people.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  15. Weiser

    Rev Wright knew Obama is!

    March 18, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Frank

      One more time... but in English.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • RapidOne

      Learn how to write and how to not watch Fox News, moron.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  16. Jo

    The Black portrayal is absolutely abdominal !!! Portraying BLACK as evil is racist !!! Has hurt Black people!!! Jesus was probably very dark !!!

    March 18, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Weiser

      Obama has hurt Black people with his constant negative rhetoric, dividing the Country by race and class.

      March 18, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      ButtWeiser, you're full of horse feathers. White racists are dividing the country because they can't stand the fact that a black man is president. Are you one of those hate-mongering white, racist pigs?

      March 18, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Jesus is probably mostly imaginary, so you might as well imagine him in any colour you like.

      Weiser, race is one of the least useful terms in the English language. Class is worse. There are no social classes here. There are the exploiters whose day is almost done and there are the exploited who are about fed up with the rubbish that has tied up all the capital in this Country.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • RapidOne

      Weiser = ignorant loser

      March 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Jesus is probably mostly imaginary, so you might as well imagine him in any colour you like.

      Weiser, race is one of the least useful terms in the English language. Class is worse. There are no social classes here. There are the exploiters whose day is almost done and there are the exploited who are about fed up with the rubbish that has tied up all the capital in this Country.

      March 18, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • Saraswati

      "Obama has hurt Black people with his constant negative rhetoric, dividing the Country by race and class."

      Right...unlike the Republicans who say "Let's all join in unity – that includes you ungrateful poor folk who don't appreciate your minimum wage jobs with no health benefits."

      March 18, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      weiser. Can you provide examples of negative rhetoric?

      March 18, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • 高値輪

      > Portraying BLACK as evil is racist !!!
      So then portraying white as evil wouldn't be racist? You're being a hypocrite.

      December 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm |

  17. Satan should be white? Angels are described as being white, even shining, and Satan is one. What other things are white? Lies are white.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
  18. sharoom

    If there was a Satan, I would imagine that Satan would take a form of great beauty and desire.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
  19. PUzzled by Stupidity

    EFF... ck CNN , what cabbage garbage bologna BS.. This is not even reporting "news" reporting the crazy outbursts of crazy right wingers.
    Pure Fairy Tale. Stop this junk. I am moving over to MSNBC. Screw C ognitively Challenged Nitwits.

    March 18, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • BloggingDAWEB

      bunch of s.....mz
      its about giving americans what they want and see or what s in trend

      The avantage is that these clowns are blinded by stupidity and will be confused one day .

      This is an awful country for families to raise children RICH country or not , you could pay me to live in the USA , I WOULD not
      it s my least prefered country on earth , i d rather live in TIMBUKTU than to have WHITE Americans neighbors

      March 18, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • NOBOZO

      hahahahhaa...MNSBC??? So you are leaving one garbage news source for a worse garbage news source...ok..libby

      March 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  20. Randomthoughts

    Boring news day eh. The bible is a fairy tale, so continue to mock it, as it should be

    March 18, 2013 at 9:22 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.