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. DAVID

    I love these pictures of Jr. and Sr together.
    One pic is more than a thousand words.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  2. PeteH

    The character portraying the devil in "The Bible" does NOT look like Obama...

    ...It's Obama who looks like the devil...

    March 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  3. Bella111

    How it is even tolerated to write trash like that in the news! CNN reached the bottom. This is NOT a journalism, this is loudspeaker for stupidity that takes over our country. Dark Ages are Back!!!!!

    March 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • dumbasfock

      Where was your outrage when Game of Thrones made a head stuck on a pole that looked like GWB? CNN covered that story too. You must have missed that.

      March 19, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  4. WASP

    you know i truly work with a guy that thinks obama is the anti-christ and that god talks to him.
    he drove everyone at work crazy saying " the next pope will be the african bishop and he is the beast and along with obama he will bring the end of days"
    now mind you this guy believes he is a prophet..............needless to say the argentinian bishop became pope and i asked him " what happen to your prophecy?" he replied he was right and that the argentinan bishop was there to trick the world because now you have a mixed guy to win over the whites and the blacks and the pope (beast) to trick the hispanics.

    truly his words not mine...................you want to know the funny part guess this guy ethnic background; i bet you get it wrong.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  5. Pumpkin Carving by Doris

    You can easily carve a lovely Charles Manson pumpkin for Halloween.
    To make it be Jesus instead, carve it the same way. Just tilt the "X" up some over the forehead so that it looks like a cross.


    March 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  6. Christopher Hitchens Destroys The Catholic Church.


    March 19, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  7. airborne525

    I think the Satan character looks more like Yogurt from Spaceballs.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • clarity


      March 19, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  8. Playing God - the Loving Psychopath


    March 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
  9. Common Sense Is Worthless in Science


    March 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  10. Keith Christopher Kosiewicz

    Looks nothing like Obama. More liberal sesationalism. Typical.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Yeah, just everyone knows Glenn Beck is a liberal.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • .

      Oh, fuck you. Beck was all over this, and he is SO liberal, isn't he? Asshole. Just can't keep from saying something stupid, although he DOESN'T look anything like Obama.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
  11. Murphy

    For all those talking about the anti christ being someone in the US forget it he/she was to be born in the middle east.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  12. Simon

    Beck probably thinks all Black people look alike. It's like saying that Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis look alike. The facial features of the President and the actor in The Bible are quite different–once you get past the skin color. Beck is an ignorant waste of space.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  13. tankrothchild

    I think it is a bit racist to assume a black guy with a hoodie on looks like Obama.

    March 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Jimmy

      This "Satan" wouldn't feel safe walking in Florida neighborhoods.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  14. Eric Fisk

    Nope – This is one of the forms Satan takes...


    March 19, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  15. funkymonkey

    The actor, Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, is a Moroccan actor who has played satan in several other productions. What's the big deal? It's no more news worthy than George W. Bush's head being impaled on a stake in Game of Thrones

    March 19, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  16. Thor

    Oh for the love of Odin.

    March 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  17. John

    I'm just an average everyman who considers himself a conservative but I am genuinely frightened by anyone that is too far to the right or the left and I'm probably naive in just mentioning this now but true unbiased reporting is truly dead and gone, there is no journalism anymore, just highly paid commentators that are the mouthpiece of very powerful media organizations that enlighten the unwashed on what they should think.

    Case in point, I watched the comments by Erin Burnett over this issue of the satan character from the Bible series and Glen Beck's comments, really very sad, a beautiful young women from the far left who is just consumed with this rage and anger towards another fringe character from the far right...all of this extremism from Beck and Burnett funded by global advertisers.

    Seriously advertisers, is this truly what you want to stand next to? Is this really the best we can do?

    March 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Wendy

      I'm from Canada, and compared to our political parties you guys have one party that really Right Wing and the other one is the Republican Party. If you guys think Obama is Socialist, you don't know what socialism is.

      March 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Shhhhh – don't tell them how socialist we are up here or else they'll brand us commies and sic McCarthy's Army on us.
      If you reveal that instead of "In God We Trust" we have poems about hockey on our money, they might invade!

      March 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  18. Boomer in Mo

    I'm pretty sure I saw Satan once. She was a woman and she is still in Phoenix. Beware Arizonians

    March 19, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Thor

      No. She isn't in Phoenix.

      March 19, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  19. Faith, schmaith.

    Obama cannot look like Satan any more than he can look like a Leprechaun, the Easter Bunny, or a Unicorn BECAUSE NONE OF THEM EXIST!

    March 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  20. Dan

    I sure think it does. In fact, that's how obama looks when he's in his Sith outfit. He's the anti-Christ. Why do you think he goes to Hawaii? He goes to enter his domain through the volcanoes there. It's sorta like when the Game Of Thrones stuck President Bush's head on a pike in one of the scenes. Great metaphor! Turn about is fair play. Great casting! Great show!!!

    March 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • peridot2

      There is some slight resemblance. Was it deliberate? Having not seen the episode I cannot make the decision.

      The Antichrist was George W Bush. (43.) That ship already sailed, folks.

      March 19, 2013 at 1:58 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.