“Awkward” may best describe President Obama’s Women’s History Month reception Monday at the White House, what with the guest list including an executive producer and a corporate suit behind the miniseries “The Bible.” The previous night, “The Bible” gave viewers their first good look at Satan — who bore a more than passing resemblance to Obama, according to some viewers.
History channel spent a good-ish chunk of Monday defending the makeup job done on Moroccan actor Mehdi Ouazanni that left him looking a lot like our 44th president in some people’s eyes.
“Anyone else think the Devil in #TheBible Sunday on History Channel looks exactly like That Guy?” Glenn Beck — an early adopter — tweeted over the weekend.
(Interestingly, hours later, Beck chastised himself for making the comparison, saying: “Media — relax. Actor has been in similar roles b4. Funny, nothing more.” He added: “For different reasons, #TheBible is 1 of my fav shows. Keep watching.”)
On Monday evening, the hashtag #ObamaIsNotSatan was trending worldwide on Twitter.
“They do look alike, you got to admit that,” CNN newsman Wolf Blitzer said Monday on “The Situation Room.”
Horseradish, said History:
“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. The Bible is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history.”
“Utter nonsense,” added “The Bible” exec producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey:
“The actor who played Satan . . . 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.”
Downey went on to note that she and Burnett “have nothing but respect and love” for Obama, noting that he’s “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,” she concluded sternly.
During Monday’s Women’s History Month reception in the East Room of the White House, Obama wisely made no reference to his more-than-passing resemblance to History’s made-for-TV Satan; he did, however, give a shout-out to Abbe Raven, who is chief executive of History’s parent company, A&E Networks.
In anticipation of your question: We could not run the photo of Ouazzani made up as Satan; History expunged photos of the actor in character from its Web site after the brouhaha erupted, and Washington Post rules do not allow us to publish a photo from an outlet’s Web site without permission.
It’s a little unclear why History took down the photos from its site, given that the channel planned to rerun the episode without change Monday night on A&E network Lifetime, as well as twice Wednesday and once Sunday on History.
It’s not the first time a president’s mug has turned up on a TV show — and not in a good way.
HBO apologized last summer for commentary on its “Game of Thrones” first-season DVD, in which one of the program’s exec producers noted that one decapitated head on a stick, in a couple of scenes, is that of ex-POTUS George W. Bush.
“The last head on the left is George Bush,” one of the show-runners for the popular, and sometimes gruesome, fantasy-drama series is heard saying during the Episode 10 commentary — one of the extra features offered in the first-season release. What appears to be Bush’s head is seen in profile, mostly masked by a scraggly brown wig.
“George Bush’s head appears in a couple beheading scenes,” the show-runner said. “It’s not a choice; it’s not a political statement. It’s just, we had to use what heads we had around.”
“We were deeply dismayed to see this, and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste,” a mortified HBO said in a statement, after being alerted to the DVD commentary, which was first noticed by the Web site Reddit.
The premium cable network halted shipments of the DVDs, removed the scene from its digital platforms and edited out the head for future telecasts.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, visit washingtonpost.com/tvblog.