In June 2021, The Weeknd and Sam Levinson introduced they might be teaming as much as create “The Idol” for HBO.
Together with Reza Fahim, a former nightlife entrepreneur-turned-writer, the “Euphoria” creator and the Grammy award-winning singer created the sequence which revolves round an aspiring feminine pop star and an enigmatic LA membership proprietor who secretly runs a cult akin to NXIVM.
Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, who additionally co-wrote and served as govt producer, performs Tedros, the cult chief in query, whereas Lily Rose-Depp, in her tv debut, performs up-and-coming singer Jocelyn.
The solid additionally contains Troye Sivan, Dan Levy, Eli Roth, Hank Azaria, Da’Vine Pleasure Randolph, Jane Adams, Rachel Sennott, Hari Nef, and Moses Sumney. It additionally options Blackpink’s Jennie and Anne Heche in her closing position earlier than her loss of life.
The present was purported to be a narrative of feminine empowerment, however the message has been misplaced over the course of the present’s rewrites and reshoots, it has been claimed.
The present was initially purported to be an empowering story a few younger starlet who fights to reclaim her company after falling sufferer to the predatory powers of the music business, however, in keeping with a supply quoted in Rolling Stone, this is not what viewers will see.
One crew member, who was one in every of 13 to talk to the outlet in regards to the manufacturing, stated that after they joined the present it was “a darkish satire of fame and the celebrity mannequin” set towards the backdrop of a “post-Trump world.”
Nonetheless, the supply claimed it shortly devolved into the very factor it was purported to be satirizing when director Amy Seimetz departed the present in April 2022 and Levinson took over as director and determined to present the sequence a “main artistic overhaul.”
When Levinson took over as director from Seimetz, he reportedly scrapped the nearly-finished venture to rewrite and reshoot your complete factor.
Levinson is claimed to have determined to scrap virtually all of what Seimetz, who has beforehand directed episodes of “The Girlfriend Expertise” and “Atlanta,” had shot in favor of beginning once more from scratch, in keeping with Rolling Stone’s sources.
When Levinson entered the director’s chair, he determined to shift the tone drastically and dropped one of many present’s stars, and crammed his supporting solid with stars with “Our bodies Our bodies Our bodies” breakout actor Rachel Sennott and Okay-pop star, Jennie.
Not solely that, however the 38-year-old producer — who has beforehand been accused of making a “poisonous” work setting on “Euphoria” — dialed up the disturbing sexual content material and nudity within the sequence, the report stated.
Sources allege that Levinson’s scripts contained disturbing scenes of sexual violence that have been like “torture porn.”
Three sources that Rolling Stone spoke to alleged that Levinson wrote a number of scenes that verged into the territory of “rape fantasy” and have been extraordinarily disturbing to learn.
Many of those scenes occurred between Depp and The Weeknd’s characters.
One scene that Levinson is claimed to have written noticed Tedros bash Jocelyn’s face as she smiled and requested to be crushed extra, giving him an erection. This scene reportedly appeared in a draft script and was not filmed by the actors.
In one other scene that was reportedly scrapped as a result of it could not logistically be filmed, the sources claimed that Jocelyn was meant to hold an egg in her vagina, and can be penalized if she dropped or cracked it.
The Weeknd reportedly wished the present to give attention to his character and argued for the present to drop its feminist lens.
Each Deadline and Rolling Stone reported that The Weeknd was the rationale behind the behind-the-scenes shakeup as he voiced his unhappiness with the artistic course of the present after Seimetz, at HBO’s encouragement, contributed to the script and storyline throughout her time as director.
The Weeknd is claimed to have felt just like the present was leaning an excessive amount of right into a “feminine perspective” and specializing in Depp’s character an excessive amount of.
“It was just like the Weeknd wished one present that was all about him — Sam was on board with that,” a supply informed Rolling Stone.
Nonetheless, because the outlet famous, there was problem making The Weeknd’s character the present’s main focus throughout the reshoots as his availability was restricted due to his already locked-in worldwide “After Hours Til Daybreak” tour schedule.
Depp responded to the allegations, saying that she has by no means “felt extra supported or revered in a artistic house” than on “The Idol.”
“Sam is, for thus many causes, the very best director I’ve ever labored with. By no means have I felt extra supported or revered in a artistic house, my enter, and opinions extra valued,” Depp stated in a press release to Rolling Stone.
“Working with Sam is a real collaboration in each means — it issues to him, greater than something, not solely what his actors take into consideration the work, however how we really feel performing it,” she continued, including that the “Malcolm & Marie” director has “all the time created an setting during which I felt seen, heard, and appreciated.”
HBO, in the meantime, stated the modifications made have been in “the very best curiosity of each the manufacturing and the solid and crew.”
“The preliminary strategy on the present and manufacturing of the early episodes, sadly, didn’t meet HBO requirements so we selected to make a change,” HBO stated in a press release to Selection.
“All through the method, the artistic staff has been dedicated to making a protected, collaborative, and mutually respectful working setting,” HBO continued, including that “final yr, the staff made artistic modifications they felt have been in the very best curiosity of each the manufacturing and the solid and crew.”
The Weeknd responded to the Rolling Stone article with a clip from the present during which his character calls the journal “irrelevant.”
—The Weeknd (@theweeknd) March 1, 2023
Within the video, posted to Twitter, the “Cannot Really feel My Face” singer, in character as Tedros, weighs in after Jocelyn is pitched by her publicist (Dan Levy) to do a canopy shoot and accompanying interview for the stalwart music publication.
“Rolling Stone? Aren’t they a bit irrelevant?” Tedros asks earlier than mentioning that the Instagram account for the journal has solely 6 million followers whereas Jocelyn has 78 million.
“So she does a photograph shoot, she tags them, they get her followers. More cash for Rolling Stone, nothing for Jocelyn,” Tedros continues.
Alongside the 45-second video, The Weeknd wrote: “@RollingStone did we upset you?” The tweet garnered 23 million views inside 12 hours.
Noting the coincidence that the exact same outlet that had been the one to report on the alleged behind-the-scenes drama had been named on the present in a scene seemingly filmed months prior, most of the Canadian artist’s followers started speculating whether or not the Rolling Stone report was really simply guerrilla marketing for the sequence. Some theorized that the entire controversy had been created to drum up interest forward of “The Idol”‘s launch.
It is unclear when the present will ultimately premiere or what the completed product will appear like.
It has been a couple of months because the community final supplied an replace on the discharge date for “The Idol,” with the third teaser trailer, which dropped in October, stating solely that it’ll air someday in 2023.
In a video from HBO titled “Coming Quickly in 2023” launched two months later, the present featured alongside the likes of “Succession” and “The Final of Us,” and was once more confirmed to be on the slate for this yr.
Nonetheless, as of March, a concrete launch date has nonetheless not been set, and it stays unclear which model of the present will make it onto screens when it will definitely does air.