It seems that The Weeknd should’ve saved his criticism-induced tears for another day.
Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye and actor Lily-Rose Depp have responded to an unsettling Rolling Stone exposé published Wednesday that alleges that production for their upcoming HBO series “The Idol” — in which they star — has been a “shitshow,” as one source put it.
The magazine spoke to 13 anonymous sources from the show’s cast and crew, who said they initially signed on to help create a “dark satire of fame” that devolved into a “toxic” man’s “rape fantasy.”
The show centers around Tedros (Tesfaye), a “self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult” who develops a relationship with Jocelyn (Depp), “an up-and-coming pop idol,” according to an HBO press release.
Sources told Rolling Stone the show took a turn for the worse when “Euphoria” showrunner Sam Levinson took over directing duties from Amy Seimetz of “The Girlfriend Experience” and “She Dies Tomorrow,” who suddenly left after roughly 80% of the six-episode series was finished.
The sources said that under Levinson’s leadership, production has been plagued with delays, reshoots and erratic and “disturbing” rewrites.
Tesfaye and Levinson did not respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment on the report.
But Tesfaye later made his thoughts about the piece crystal-clear, tagging the magazine in a tweet that said, “.@RollingStone did we upset you?”
Also included in his post is a snippet from a scene in “The Idol” that features his and Depp’s characters, Tedros and Jocelyn, speaking with a publicist played by Dan Levy. In the scene, Levy’s character is trying to talk Joceclyn into doing a cover feature with Rolling Stone.
“Rolling Stone? Aren’t they a little irrelevant?” Tedros says in the clip.
Jocelyn then suggests that the magazine is “a little past its prime,” with Tedros adding:
“Nobody cares about Rolling Stone.”
Tedros then opens his phone to compare the magazine’s 6 million Instagram followers with Jocelyn’s 78 million.
Tesfaye’s post didn’t land well on Twitter:
Depp, who did not speak to Rolling Stone, responded to the exposé more formally, telling Variety Wednesday in a statement:
“Sam is, for so many reasons, the best director I have ever worked with. Never have I felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input and opinions more valued.”
“He hires people whose work he esteems and has always created an environment in which I felt seen, heard, and appreciated.”
Deadline reported last April that Tesfaye, who also co-created “The Idol,” is the reason Levinson took the helm of the project. The “Blinding Lights” singer was allegedly unhappy that Seimetz, the original director, was focusing too much on the “female perspective” of Depp’s character rather than his own.
Sources told Rolling Stone that Levinson muddled the show’s initial message about “a woman who was finding herself sexually” and morphed it into a story about “a man who gets to abuse this woman and she loves it.” Rolling Stone also described drafts of scripts that were thankfully never shot but included alarming scenes.
One scene reportedly consisted of Tedros bashing in Jocelyn’s face, resulting in her asking him to beat her more. Another scenario involved Jocelyn being asked to insert a vaginal egg, and if she dropped or cracked it, Tedros would refuse to “rape” her — which reportedly sends Jocelyn into a spiral in which she begs him to rape her because she believes he is the key to her success.
“It was like, ‘What is this? What am I reading here?’” one source told Rolling Stone of these scenes. “It was like sexual torture porn.”
It is still unclear when “The Idol” will premiere, but HBO says it will be sometime this year.
To read all the allegations sources made about the show’s production, head over to Rolling Stone.