The Weeknd Shades Discuss HBO’s The Idol and Its Production Issues

Abel Tesfaye, better known as a pop musician The Weeknd, has replied quickly to a Rolling Stone piece alleging chaos behind the scenes of Tesfaye’s upcoming HBO show The Idol.

Though Tesfaye did not react to Rolling Stone’s demands for comment in their article, “The Idol: How HBO’s Next Euphoria Became Twisted ‘Torture Porn,'” he did tweet on Wednesday, “@RollingStone did we upset you?” A clip from The Idol is attached, in which Tesfaye’s character, Tedros, refuses to let budding pop sensation Jocelyn (played by Lily-Rose Depp) to do a cover shoot for the aforementioned magazine. (“Rounding Stone? Aren’t they a little… out of place?” Tedros inquires about Dan Levy’s character. “No one cares about Rolling Stone.”

The (true) piece in Rolling Stone, which is owned by TVLine’s parent firm Penske Media Corporation, details reported drama on the set of The Idol, which has been unable to secure an HBO premiere date despite the publication of three teaser trailers. Via interviews with several members of The Idol’s cast and crew, the piece details — among other setbacks — a massive creative overhaul that found director Amy Seimetz getting replaced by co-creator Sam Levinson (Euphoria) when production was nearly complete; when Levinson took over, he reportedly scrapped the entire first product and reshot the season anew.

Sources stated that Levinson’s new approach to the series converted The Idol into “sexual torture porn,” in addition to purported last-minute rewrites and ever-changing production timetables. The series, billed as “Hollywood’s sleaziest love story,” follows Depp’s starlet Jocelyn as she navigates the music industry and eventually comes under the influence of nightclub owner-turned-cult leader Tedros. Despite the fact that Seimetz’s version of the show contained nudity and sexual content, Levinson’s new version allegedly included “disturbing sexual and physically violent scenes” between Depp and Tesfaye’s characters, including (unfilmed) material in which Depp’s character welcomes physical and sexual abuse.

HBO defended both The Idol and the production process in a statement to Rolling Stone, saying that “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.”

This is not the first time Levinson’s work has been called into question: claims of a poisonous and unhealthy working atmosphere on set surfaced during the second season of Euphoria, which HBO also denied.