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An Obama lookalike as Satan? ‘The Bible’ bosses horrified by claim

Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni as Satan 'The Bible' History.

Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni as Satan in "The Bible" on History.

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Updated: March 19, 2013 7:05PM



Conservative gadfly Glenn Beck now has tweeted that he was just trying to be “funny, nothing more,” but his initial tweet about the actor portraying Satan in the History Channel’s “The Bible” miniseries looking a lot like President Obama certainly ignited a social media firestorm the past couple of days.

While it’s not hard to see the resemblance, I’ve learned History Channel honchos as well as the show’s producers, Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey, who also stars in the series, were horrified by the comparison.

A member of the Burnett-Downey camp told this column Monday, “They both are big fans of the president, and the last thing either one would want is for their series about spirituality be turned into something political — especially in this way.”

On the record, Burnett and Downey released a statement calling the comparison of Obama and Moroccan actor Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni “utter nonsense,” adding that the actor has previously starred in other biblical projects, portraying “Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our president.”

Beyond that, Downey, who starred in the long-running “Touched by an Angel” series, added a further statement: “Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love for 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.’ ”

† In a closing, my Burnett source added, “I think this whole non-issue was in fact generated by the real Satan — unhappy about how he’s portrayed in ‘The Bible.’ ”

TV TALK: While Rainn Wilson’s spinoff from “The Office” isn’t happening, the actor and New Trier High School grad — has been cast in the title role for the CBS drama pilot “Backstrom.” Sounds like Wilson will play another though very different quirky character: Everett Backstrom, an overweight, offensive, irascible detective — constantly, unsuccesfully battling to change his poor habits.

† iO Theatre and Second City alum Mike Castle has landed the lead in a NBC untitled comedy pilot described by deadline.com as “four hopeful city dwellers who step through the endless minefield of their romantic entanglements.”

ENGAGING STORY: Congrats to Lettuce Entertain You’s Molly Melman, the only daughter of restaurant kingpin Rich Melman and his wife, Martha, who just became engaged to longtime boyfriend Alex Mann. No wedding date has been set — but rest assured, when it does happen, the food served at those nuptials will be outstanding!

HEADED HERE: Theo James (“Underworld: Awakening,” “Downton Abbey”) has been cast as “Four” in the futuristic action thriller “Divergent,” which will begin filming in Chicago next month, starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet.

HARD TO BELIEVE: A friend of Sandra Bullock — who has been close to the Oscar winner for years — was incensed about recent reports the actress’ infamous ex-husband, Jesse James, had the nerve to invite Bullock to his upcoming fourth wedding.

“That is total bull----,” said the source, with venom dripping from her voice. “That is not true.” The Bullock buddy expressed sadness about the news James will wed haircare heiress

Alexis DeJoria at the end of the month. “I couldn’t care less about Jesse, but I’m sad that this story just dredges up those awful memories of Jesse’s unfaithfulness to Sandy.”DeJoria, a racecar driver, is the 35-year-old daughter of

John Paul DeJoria, the billionaire whose business interests include Paul Mitchell Hair Care, Patron Spirits, the House of Blues and speedboat and Harley Davidson dealerships.

SENSE OF HUMOR: Hollywood legal tough guy Bert Fields is famous for aggressively going after folks who he thinks have wronged his clients — most famously for filing (and winning) lawsuits for Tom Cruise.

But the well-known attorney told the New York Post’s Richard Johnson he has no problem being a featured character in “The TomKat Project” at Chicago’s Playground Theater. “I love a good spoof, even about me — or especially about me.” However, Fields did say he has concerns for longtime client Cruise.

Those kinds of spoofs, Fields said, “can be misleading and cruel, so I’m concerned for Tom and [his daughter]

Suri.”

As for coming to town to check out the show in person, Fields got off a zinger at Our Town: “If it comes to New York or L.A. [he’d go see it]. Chicago’s too cold, except when it’s too hot.”

SEEN ON THE SCENE: Henry Thomas — who we’ll always love for his long-ago role as Elliott in “ET” — is in town starring in the “Betrayal” pilot and has been spied hanging out at the Hangge-Uppe on Elm and chowing down on hickory-smoked chicken at Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap. … New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez had fun partying at Hub 51’s lower-level Sub 51 nightclub, while ex-Bear and current Carolina Panther Greg Olsen brunched at Hub 51. … Ex-Cubs catcher Todd Hundley was spotted dining at Harry Caray’s in Rosemont, while Marv Levy stopped in at HC’s Navy Pier tavern. … The original Harry Caray’s on Kinzie was visited recently by Bill Kurtis, Blackhawks prez John McDonough and the team’s Jay Blunk and Al MacIsaac, plus Ernie Banks joined by Ron Santo Jr. Giuliana Rancic dined at Allium at the Four Seasons with Bright Pink’s Lindsay Avner and Carli Feinstein to review “Fab-U-Wish” submissions by those battling breast cancer. … Gibsons sightings include the a cappella group Straight No Chaser serenading the happy piano bar crowd at the Rush Street steakery, plus Aussie writer, actor and director Wayne Blair and his “The Sapphires” co-star Jessica Mauby — in town boosting their new film. … Among those checking out the new Brewstone Taproom in River North was “Windy City Live’s” Ryan Chiaverini.

BROADCAST NEWS: Congrats to Robert Wildeboer and Cate Cahan of WBEZ-FM (91.5), who just received $10,000 and the national Scripps-Howard Jack R. Howard Award for their radio report “Grandma Can’t Accept Your Calls,” exposing excessive phone charges for inmates at Cook County Jail. The series led to a 75 percent rate reduction.



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