Update: The Weeknd has responded to the Rolling Stone report and has dropped a clip from the show in which his character references the publication. In an Instagram caption, the multihyphenate wrote, “did we upset you?”

As Variety reports of the clip Tesfaye posted:

“In the scene, a character played by Dan Levy pitches Tesfaye and Lily-Rose Depp’s pop star character Jocelyn to do a photo shoot for the cover of Rolling Stone. Tesfaye, who plays a modern-day cult leader named Tedros, says, “Rolling Stone? Aren’t they a little irrelevant? … Rolling Stone has 6 million followers on Instagram, half of them probably bots. And Jocelyn has 78 million followers, all real I’d assume. So she does a photo shoot, she tags them, they get her followers. More money for Rolling Stone, nothing for Jocelyn.” “There’s a lot for Jocelyn,” Levy’s character says, to which Tesfaye’s character responds, “Not in Rolling Stone.”

Also in a statement to Variety, HBO says, “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.”

Previously reported:

Sam Levinson and The Weeknd’s upcoming HBO drama series The Idol is facing some extremely bad press as a report comes out claiming that the set is rife with behind-the-scenes drama.

IndieWire reports from Rolling Stone that 13 anonymous sources from the production crew have called the set “a shitshow.”


What has been publicly announced was news in April that actress/director Amy Seimetz left the series despite 80 percent of the series being completed. This led HBO to say that the series was experiencing, as Rolling Stone wrote, “a creative overhaul and would be adjusting the cast and crew.” Reports claim that The Weeknd, also known by his full name Abel Tesfaye, thought the show had too much of a “female perspective.”


Now, with the 13 sources including cast and crew speaking to Rolling Stone, the outlet reported that the year-long delay in the series making it to HBO is because of Levinson taking the reigns as director, canning the original footage and rewriting and shooting the series. The sources claim that under Levinson’s control, the entire series has been weakened and the sexual content and nudity has been ratcheted up to a degree that even surpasses Levinson’s other work, Euphoria.


The sources claim that the series went from a young star becoming prey to the predatory entertainment industry to a “degrading love story with a hollow message,” according to Rolling Stone. The change in story rang as offensive to some of the crew, and others claimed Seimetz seemed to be positioned to fail by those in power by being “given half-finished scripts, a first-time showrunner in [Joe] Epstein, a tight schedule, and near-impossible expectations from HBO.” She was allegedly also expected to create lavish episodes on a constrained budget.


The half-written scripts were ones for the final episodes, and HBO allegedly led Seimetz on to believe that she could put her own stamp on the last episode. She and her assistant allegedly wrote the scripts, resulting in many script changes and confusion. The sources claimed they were unable to properly prepare each day for shooting because they would have no idea what would happen that day.


However, when Levinson got on board, things got even worse. His rewrites allegedly had Lily-Rose Depp’s character in “disturbing sexual and physically violent scenes” with Tesfaye, including an alleged scene in which Tesfaye beats Depp’s face, only for Depp to smile and ask for more. However, this scene was never shot, according to one of the sources. Another unproduced scene included Depp’s character asking to be sexually assaulted by Tesfaye for the sake of her career.


The experience has soured many of the sources on the idea of working with Levinson again. They also complained about how HBO continues to excuse his behavior because of his Euphoria success.

Read the full report at Rolling Stone.