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The Weeknd Fires Back at Rolling Stone’s Claim That His HBO Show ‘The Idol’ Has ‘Gone ‘Off the Rails’

The Weeknd Fires Back at Rolling Stone’s Claim That His HBO Show ‘The Idol’ Has 'Gone ‘Off the Rails’ - 872

Shutting it down. The Weeknd fired back after Rolling Stone published a scathing report that claimed his upcoming HBO show, The Idol, has gone “off the rails.”

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The “I Can’t Feel My Face” singer, 33, took to social media on Wednesday, March 1, to share a clip from The Idol that seemingly responded to the magazine’s claims. The scene features Dan Levy’s character pitching Lily-Rose Depp’s Jocelyn a potential cover shoot for Rolling Stone. The Weeknd — who portrays Tedros, a self-help guru/leader of a modern-day cult — calls the outlet “irrelevant” and turns down the offer on her behalf.

“Rolling Stone has 6 million followers on Instagram, half of them probably bots. And Jocelyn has 78 million followers, all real I’d assume,” his character explains. “So she does a photo shoot, she tags them, they get her followers. More money for Rolling Stone, nothing for Jocelyn.”

While Levy’s character insists there’s “a lot for Jocelyn,” Tedros replies, “Not in Rolling Stone.”

The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) captioned the video, “@rollingstone Did we upset you?”

The Idol, which is pitched as “the sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood” per the show’s official social media, was ordered to series in November 2021 and centers on Jocelyn (Depp), an aspiring pop idol whose nervous breakdown leads to canceling her tour. The story follows the singer as she tries to reclaim her status and navigate a romantic relationship with Tedros.

The Weeknd Fires Back at Rolling Stone’s Claim That His HBO Show ‘The Idol’ Has 'Gone ‘Off the Rails’ - 873

Rolling Stone’s story, which was published earlier on Wednesday and titled “The Idol: How HBO’s Next Euphoria Became Twisted ‘Torture Porn,’” highlights 13 interviews with sources who work for the six-episode series. The exposé claims that the show is being “delayed” due to a poor working environment and last-minute script rewrites.

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Production hit its first snag in April 2022 when Amy Seimetz abruptly stepped down as director after several episodes were already filmed. Sam Levinson, who is co-creator of the project with The Weeknd, replaced her in the director’s chair.

While Rolling Stone reported that The 38-year-old Euphoria creator’s takeover led to a “weaken[ing] of the show’s overarching message,” Depp, 23, told Variety in a statement that Levinson is the “best director” she has worked with. 

“Never have I felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input and opinions more valued,” she explained on Wednesday. “Working with Sam is a true collaboration in every way — it matters to him, more than anything, not only what his actors think about the work, but how we feel performing it. He hires people whose work he esteems and has always created an environment in which I felt seen, heard, and appreciated.”

HBO, for their part, explained the show’s delays and personnel changes in their own statement to Variety later that day.

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“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,” the statement read. “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.”

HBO has released three teaser trailers for Idol, which is set to premiere in late 2023, but has yet to announce a release date for the series.

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