By Mark Ellis
He has been depicted wearing horns, a red suit, and a pitchfork. But History Channel’s version of Satan caused a galactic fit in the Twitter universe over the uncanny resemblance of the epic program’s character to President Barack Obama.
Some speculated that casting Moroccan actor Mehdi Ouazanni as the evil one may have been a political statement rather than mere coincidence.
Conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly devoted a segment of his program to the controversy. One guest on his show suggested an out-of-control makeup artist may have taken liberties with the relatively fair-skinned actor.
A Daily News’ headline fanned the flames: “What the hell? Satanic-looking Obama has many questioning eerie resemblance in History Channel broadcast.”
However, The Bible series’ executive producers, Mark Burnett and his wife, actress Roma Downey have given generously to Democratic candidates, including donations to President Obama’s campaign in 2008 and the DNC in 2009.
“This is utter nonsense,” Burnett and Downey said in a joint statement. “The actor who played Satan, 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.”
“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.”
The History Channel issued its own statement: “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. History’s The Bible is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history.”
The attention-grabbing five-part series, which runs through Easter, is the most-watched entertainment program on cable television, according to ABC’s Good Morning America.