The Weeknd trolls report of chaos on ‘The Idol’ set: ‘Did we upset you?’

The Weeknd trolls report of chaos on ‘The Idol’ set: ‘Did we upset you?’

Rolling Stone published a story with staffers claiming that production on the HBO drama turned into a “s— show” following the departure of its original director.

The Weeknd broke his silence after a report that production on his upcoming HBO drama The Idol turned into a “s— show” at the hands of co-creator Sam Levinson by trolling the publication that ran it.

Rolling Stone published a piece Wednesday with 13 members of the cast and crew lambasting Levinson’s creative approach to the series following the departure of original director Amy Seimetz. The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, responded by tweeting a clip from the upcoming series that features his character alongside costar Lily-Rose Depp calling the magazine “irrelevant.”

“So Rolling Stone came back to us about a cover,” a character played by Dan Levy says, “and I think it’s worth pursuing.” When the Weeknd’s Tedros posits that the publication is irrelevant, Depp’s pop singer Jocelyn adds, “Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like it might be past its prime.” Tedros adds, “Nobody cares about Rolling Stone.”

The singer tweeted alongside the clip, “Did we upset you?”

Staffers in the report painted a portrait of a production plagued by delays, rewrites, and reshoots. Some maintained that Levinson “weaken[ed] the show’s overarching message by dialing up the disturbing sexual content and nudity to match  — and even surpass — that of his most successful show, Euphoria,” citing certain scenes that allegedly played out like “rape fantasies.”

Three unnamed members of production claimed Seimetz “seemed set up to fail from the start,” given “half-finished scripts,” a “first-time showrunner” in Joe Epstein, “tight schedule,” and “near-impossible expectations from HBO.” A previous report indicated that Seimetz departed the series last year because the Weeknd felt her vision leaned too heavily into the “female perspective.”

The drama, set against the backdrop of the music industry and co-created by the Weeknd and Reza Fahim, stars Depp as an up-and-coming pop idol who begins a complicated relationship with a self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult (the Weeknd). Members of the crew interviewed for the Rolling Stone piece claimed Levinson scrapped Seimetz’s approach and “went from satire to the thing it was satirizing.”  

The Idol

Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd on ‘The Idol’

| Credit: HBO Max

HBO stood by the new creative approach when reached for comment.

“The initial approach on the show and production of the early episodes, unfortunately, did not meet HBO standards so we chose to make a change,” the statement obtained by EW read. “Throughout the process, the creative team has been committed to creating a safe, collaborative, and mutually respectful working environment, and last year, the team made creative changes they felt were in the best interest of both the production and the cast and crew.”

Depp also defended Levinson’s vision. “Sam is, for so many reasons, the best director I have ever worked with,” she said in a statement provided to EW. “Never have I felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input and opinions more valued. Working with Sam is a true collaboration in every way – it matters to him, more than anything, not only what his actors think about the work, but how we feel performing it. He hires people whose work he esteems and has always created an environment in which I felt seen, heard, and appreciated.” 

A source close to production called the Rolling Stone story a “hack job,” while a second source disputed HBO’s notion that early episodes did not meet standards.

Reps for Levinson didn’t respond to EW’s request for comment Wednesday. EW also reached out to reps for Seimetz for comment.

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