(The Hollywood Reporter) - Coincidence, or not-so-subtle political commentary?
A major hit already, History Channel's 10-part miniseries The Bible is stirring up extra attention for its casting. The role of Satan, i.e. the bad guy, is played by the actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni, who, thanks to makeup and other production tricks, bears a startling resemblance to President Barack Obama.
The resemblance was pointed out on Twitter while the show still aired on Sunday. Glenn Beck, the Christian conservative broadcaster who has called the series "one of the most important shows in decades," sent out a tweet with a screenshot. Beck, who refuses to use Obama's name, referred to the president as "That Guy."
Ouazanni has featured in several religious-themed programs before, including the TV movies David (1997); Jeremiah (1998, with Patrick Dempsey in the starring role); In the Beginning; and the Emmy-nominated The Ten Commandments (2006).
The producers of the series have yet to comment. The Bible is in part a collaboration between Mark Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey. Burnett has given to Democratic candidates, including Obama in 2008 and the DNC in 2009, while he also produces Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice and was behind Sarah Palin's first reality effort. Downey, while not publicly identifying with a party, is a devout Catholic who has spoken in public about her faith quite often. She starred in the TV series Touched By an Angel, and through LightWorkers Media, a religious production company behind The Bible, she produced the children's animated program Little Angels.
In the lead-up to The Bible's debut, Burnett and Downey went on a tour of several megachurches, including those of Joel Osteen and Rick Warren (who once gave an invocation at Obama's inauguration, but has since decried his policies). Burnett and Downey have also appeared on Beck's show. In addition, the pair penned an editorial for the Wall Street Journal calling for bible education in public schools.