The controversy around HBO's The Idol explained
Contains mention of sexual assault and rape
HBO, The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp have responded to the controversy surrounding HBO's The Idol, following a Rolling Stone article which alleges the upcoming TV series had gone "wildly, disgustingly off the rails" and was a "s**tshow" to create.
Yesterday (1st March) Rolling Stone published an in-depth look at the series' production where they spoke to 13 sources who claimed the series had been subject to delays, rewrites, which allegedly worsened after Euphoria director Sam Levinson began work on the show.
The series has been in the works for a number of years with The Weeknd, real name Abel Tesfaye, serving as an executive producer on The Idol alongside Sam Levinson and Reza Fahim.
The Idol does not currently have a release date but is set to air at some point during 2023 starring The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp, Dan Levy, Eli Roth, Troye Sivan and Hank Azaria.
So what exactly are the allegations surrounding The Idol? This is everything you need to know.
What is The Idol about?
The Idol is an upcoming HBO drama series which is said to be about a young pop-star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp), who experiences a nervous breakdown, which causes her tour to be cancelled.
Following the cancellation she resolves to reclaim her title as the ultimate pop icon in America whilst beginning a complicated relationship with Tedros (The Weeknd), a self-help guru and leader of a contemporary cult.
What is the alleged controversy surrounding the series about?
The Idol was in development around June 2021, with Abel Tesfaye, Sam Levinson and Reza Fahim serving as the series executive producers. In November 2021 HBO ordered it to series.
So far the series has not been given a firm release date, despite a number of teaser trailers being released.
In April last year The Idol director Amy Seimetz left the series with allegedly 80 per cent of the series filmed.
One source told Rolling Stone, Seimetz was given half finished scripts, a tight schedule, saying: "Amy was doing her best in an impossible situation, but she was going to lose this no matter what. Honestly, I think HBO handed her a s**t stack."
Seimetz declined to comment to Rolling Stone.
HBO then confirmed there was going to be a major creative overhaul and Sam Levinson, the director of Euphoria was brought on.
The Idol was said to have gone through multiple re-writes, reshoots and Levinson allegedly added more nudity and "disturbing" sexual content, changing the original message of the show.
One source told the publication: "It was a show about a woman who was finding herself sexually, turned into a show about a man who gets to abuse this woman and she loves it.”
Another described the newest version of the show as, "like any rape fantasy that any toxic man would have in the show — and then the woman comes back for more because it makes her music better.”
Levinson declined to comment to Rolling Stone.
What have HBO said about the series?
Included in Rolling Stone's piece about the series HBO called The Idol one of the "most exciting and provocative original programs," on the network.
They added: "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.”
In a later statement given to Variety, HBO expanded and said the initial episodes didn't meet their standards and so they made creative changes for the benefit of the cast and crew.
They said: "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. 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.”
Cosmopolitan UK has reached out to HBO for comment.
What has Lily-Rose Depp said about the allegations?
In a statement given to Rolling Stone, Lily-Rose Depp said Levinson was "the best director" she had ever worked with and 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.”
What has The Weeknd said about the allegations?
Abel Tesfaye also known as The Weeknd, declined to comment to Rolling Stone's original article.
However, since publication Tesfaye has responded to the allegations in an Instagram and Twitter post.
On his Instagram last night Tesfaye shared a clip of himself and Depp in The Idol, in which Tesfaye's character calls Rolling Stone "irrelevant" and downplaying their number of followers captioning it: "@rollingstone did we upset you?"
He shared the same clip on Twitter with the same caption. The editor-in-chief of Rolling Stone Noah Shachtman, responded to the tweet saying, "Not at all!".
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