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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. rtr

    Everybody knows that the liberals will get us out of war, then the anti christ conservative will get us back in one for their friends can make alot of money, the longer they can keep bases in foriegn countries the more money their friends make.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  2. blake

    Hillarious. If the shoe fits ...

    March 18, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  3. Avi Shlomo

    no wonder people are still fighting. They still belive in these stupid stories that my ancestors made and created.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  4. RA

    Just typecasting...

    March 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  5. barbarianofgor

    IMO this series is pretty wimpy...

    Like it begins with Noah and a quick re-telling of creation to the garden/the fall...
    NOTHING on the "Antediluvian World" though that'd be a fantastic early part with Nephilhim and watcher angels and Atlantis, etc.

    And they had Sodom being destroyed, but showed it as a collection of mud huts with people dancing, not an advanced city... Nice "300" tip of the hats with the angels doing swordplay but too cheap to have them glow or whatever. And of course nothing on Lot and his Daughters right after... Not that I wanted to SEE it shown, though they should have told it in the narratives...

    But, IMO they'll be really, really weak on the "Conspiracy of the Blood"
    -No "If you do not slay this man, we shall make you into an enemy of Caesar."
    ---"I am INNOCENT the BLOOD of this Just Man, See ye to it!" – washing hands –
    ---"His BLOOD be upon us, and our Children's Children's Children, until the END of TIME!"

    March 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Avi Shlomo

      only if you believe in a fairy tale.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  6. al tulo

    I stopped watching after I saw them portray Samson as a Haitian with dreadlocks. I tought Sampson was a Phonician? Not a brother with dreadlocks.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  7. Thor

    I really thought this would be a stretch when I read the Satan/Obama resemblance; then I scrolled down. Holy Smokes! I actually kind of got taken aback a bit. Maybe it's just because they all look alike? You know how us white people are!

    March 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  8. jaana

    no, not at all.. even though he is satan.. this guy does not look like him (frankly he does not really look like i would have pictured satan.. HC show about the apocolypse has a much more sinister looking guy who really does look evil enough to be satan or the antichrist or whatever..

    March 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • ChrisIA

      Oh come on folks! We all Know Satan doesn't look like that! Satan comes at you smiling in a 3 piece suit to the cheers of the masses, talking about hope and change right before he does away with both.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  9. snowboarder

    i don't waste my money on pay tv, but this is a little funny.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • jaana

      it's not pay tv.. you can just to go History channel and watch it..

      March 18, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It depends on your use of the term "pay TV". I don't pay for anything beyond basic, so I don't get this channel. I think one of the main reasons people in this country are in so much debt is they don't realize this kind of cable and an iPhone aren't essentials.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • snowboarder

      jana, the history channel isn't on broadcast tv

      March 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Sense0326

      @snowboarder
      All of the episodes are available for free on the History Channel's website.

      March 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  10. SantaAna

    So Robert, you have 1st hand knowledge of what did and did not happen in History (His-story)

    March 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • sam

      Leave Michael Jackson out of this!

      March 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  11. mariner II

    Oh, yea, yea, you can absolutely tell they used a nikon f to shoot the photo in those days right before they started using kodak and polaroid technology which was the more advanced photography of the era. What a bunch of looneys. Where do these people come from? The Vatican? Sure why not.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  12. Damien

    Whenever people buy those kits to make a Jesus face on pumpkins at Halloween, I make them all wind up looking like Charles Manson. 😈

    March 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  13. Gary Sutphin

    UNintentional things like this simply don't happen. It WAS most CERTAINLY intentional that the actor protraying Satan bear a strong resemblance to Barack Obama. How sadly pathetic.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Gee, the last time I checked, Adolph Hitler was white and he looked like GWB and so was Stalin.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  15. Martha

    Martha, get me a few clips of ammo for the AR 15 there is a black in a hoody outside.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • It's Sergeant to you!

      haha... I get it.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  16. Jason

    Just how many people did Obama's dad sleep with?

    March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

      How many people did Obama's father slep with? Well, including your mama, let's see...

      March 18, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  17. Who needs a president when you can have a KING!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkoQHCXSK8

    March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  18. Dominican Mama 4 Obama

    Black Facts in America:

    95% of blacks voted for Obama. Who's the racist now in America?

    Blacks make up 16% of the US population, yet account for 85% of all violent crime in the US, make up 72% of the US prison population, highest percent by race of people on welfare and unemployment.

    March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Barry

      Gee, Hate much???

      March 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • It's Sergeant to you!

      not legit

      March 18, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Saraswati

      In 1980 Carter got 94% of the black vote voted for Carter. Are you saying that 1% proves something? Take a stats class.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  19. idiots

    only the racist would think he looks like Obama. lol..he looks NOTHING like Obama..what fools would press this nonsense article????

    Why not press some real stories like Paul Ryan's new buget plan to kill middle class

    March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  20. bigdicmcgee

    sorry to disappoint; but Lucifer (Satan) is/was beautiful; when the bible refers to him/her as the Morningstar thats got to be a good looking angel; unless they wanted to betray the "ugliness" of lies/sin?

    March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • K Kim

      Interesting point and an astute observation. Satan's ugliness is spiritual; he can probably appear beautiful in his flesh form.

      March 18, 2013 at 3:42 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.