“The Bible” producers responded to claims the actor portraying Satan in the History Channel miniseries resembles President Barack Obama calling it “utter nonsense”. A source connected to producer Mark Burnett said, “I think this whole non-issue was in fact generated by the real Satan - unhappy about how he’s portrayed in ‘The Bible’”, according to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times on Monday, March 18. The controversy started when conservative commentator Glen Beck tweeted a message suggesting the Satan character resembled “That Guy”, meaning President Barack Obama, when the show aired on Sunday night.
Glen Beck, after setting off a social media firestorm with his initial comparison comment, later tweeted that he was just trying to be, “funny, nothing more”. History Channel execs and producers Mark Burnett and his actress wife Roma Downey were said to be “horrified” with the accusations.
A source close to the producer couple said Burnett and Downey are both big fans of President Obama, and would never want their show about spirituality to be used as a political tool.
In a statement released by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, they pointed out that the actor has previously starred in several other biblical projects, and had portrayed, “Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our president”.
Downey further said, “Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love for our president, who is a fellow Christian”, calling the commotion a “foolish distraction” from the story of “The Bible”.
A statement for the cable network read, “History channel has the highest respect for President Obama. The series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors. It's unfortunate that anyone made this false connection”, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The five-part miniseries is drawing record ratings for the History Channel it airs on. It premiered earlier this month, but Sunday night’s episode introduced the Satan character for the first time.
After actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni's first appearance as Satan in “The Bible” aired, a number of viewers took to Twitter to agree with Beck that he bears a resemblance to President Barack Obama.
Ouazanni has appeared in numerous other bible-themed productions, including television movies “The Ten Commandments”, “David” and “In the Beginning”.
Besides producing the popular 10-hour miniseries “The Bible”, Burnett is best know for producing reality shows such as “Survivor”, “Celebrity Apprentice” and “The Voice”. His wife Roma starred in “Touched by an Angel”.
“The Bible” drew 13.1 million viewers for its debut episode earlier this month, making it cable's most-watched entertainment telecast of 2013 so far. The final two-hour part of the series concludes on Easter Sunday.
Burnett said he expects the show to go out with an even bigger ratings bang than its premier, according to The New York Times.