March 18, 2013 / 7:37 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-'The Bible' producers dismiss devil character's resemblance to Obama

(Adds rating figures for “The Bible” in last paragraph)

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES, March 18 (Reuters) - The popular U.S. TV miniseries “The Bible” has plunged into controversy over what some viewers see as a physical resemblance between an actor playing Satan and President Barack Obama, but producers on Monday dismissed any likeness as coincidental.

The controversy began after the History Channel aired the latest episode of the popular series on Sunday evening, with Moroccan actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni playing the part of the devil.

Conservative commentator Glenn Beck said on Twitter, “Anyone else think the Devil in #TheBible Sunday on History Channel looks exactly like That Guy?”

Other people on Twitter also said they saw a similarity and posted messages such as “Satan looks like Obama -- say what?!” and “whoever played Satan looks like Obama ... creepy.”

The History Channel said producers of the show, which takes viewers through the stories of the Bible’s Old and New Testaments, had no intent to cast an actor who looks like Obama as Satan, and that any resemblance was coincidental.

“This is utter nonsense,” Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, executive producers of “The Bible,” said in a statement.

The actor who played Satan “is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor,” the producers said. “He has previously played parts in several biblical epics - including satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our president.”

Burnett is the British-born producer of the reality series “Survivor” and his wife Downey is best known for playing an angel in the 1990s series “Touched by an Angel.”

The History Channel said “The Bible” was produced with an “international and diverse” cast and that it was “unfortunate that anyone made this false connection.”

A similar controversy broke out last year, when some viewers of the violent HBO drama series “Game of Thrones” noticed a prosthetic head on a stake shown in one episode bore a resemblance to former President George W. Bush.

The creators of “Game of Thrones” apologized and said they did not shoot the scene with that intention.

On Sunday, “The Bible” was the most-watched show between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., with 10.8 million total viewers. Over 50 million viewers have seen at least part of the 10-part miniseries since it debuted on March 3. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Nick Zieminski)

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