‘The Idol’: The Weeknd Shares Bizarre Clip in Response to Toxic Work Environment Claims!! Check It Out!!

Of all the ways in which Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye could’ve responded to claims that the set of his upcoming HBO show The Idol had descended into chaos — the most logical options being an apology or a denial — he chose to address it in maybe the most bizarre fashion possible. Hours after Rolling Stone published a report about how the six-part series had “gone wildly, disgustingly off the rails,” Tesfaye took to social media and shared a short video in which he, along with co-stars Lily-Rose Depp and Dan Levy, all apparently in character, dissed the publication.

In addition to playing one of the leads on the show, Tesfaye is also one of its co-creators, along with Reza Fahim and Euphoria overlord Sam Levinson. Levinson was brought on board to overhaul the series when original director Amy Seimetz dropped out due to creative differences, after having reportedly completed work on five episodes. This happened in April 2022, and HBO at the time stressed that efforts had been aligned to send the series in a “new creative direction.”

But the new direction, according to the Rolling Stone report which cites as many as 13 sources who worked on the show, was marred by budget overruns, unfinished scripts, and a drastic alteration of the show’s original themes. What was intended as a journey into the seedy corners of Hollywood and the music industry from the perspective of a young female character named Jocelyn, began to transform into a story that some crew members described as “degrading” and “offensive.” One scene that was ultimately never filmed allegedly involved Tesfaye’s cult leader character Tedros getting aroused after physically assaulting Jocelyn, and her asking for more. “It was like sexual torture porn,” one of the sources cited by Rolling Stone said.

In the video that Tesfaye shared on social media as a response to the story, his character Tedros is sitting on an outdoor patio with Jocelyn by his side. Across from them, Levy’s character, who appears to be their manager, tells Tedros that Rolling Stone has approached them for a cover. “Rolling Stone?” Tedros asks, “Aren’t they a little irrelevant?” As Levy‘s character explains to him how a cover feature could actually be good for them, Tedros cuts him short, and says that Jocelyn has a significantly larger Instagram following than the publication, and that being featured on it would do nothing for her. “@RollingStone did we upset you?” he wrote in the caption of his posts.

There might be some history here. Not only does Tesfaye have a song titled “Rolling Stone,” which was released in 2011, the publication has given negative reviews to Levinson’s last two feature films — Assassination Nation and Malcolm & Marie. While Rolling Stone gave the first season of Euphoria a positive review, the publication’s longtime television critic Alan Sepinwall was less enthused by the show’s second season.

The Rolling Stone article, via its sources, appeared to suggest that HBO was turning a blind eye to the on-set toxicity because Levinson is seen as the golden goose who gave them Euphoria. It’s worth noting that Euphoria — a show about teenagers — has been criticized in the past for its graphic nudity, which some might consider gratuitous. The Rolling Stone report claimed that The Idol was headed in a similar direction under Levinson‘s supervision. Another scene in the show reportedly went un-filmed only because it would have required Depp to physically insert an egg in her vagina.

While Tesfaye, Depp and the widely beloved Levy’s appearance in the video response can be perceived as their endorsement of the show, and Levinson’s vision — Depp even described him as “the best director” that she has worked with — HBO has called The Idol one of its “most exciting and provocative original programs.” That being said, Levinson is fast developing a reputation as a volatile creative presence whose sets can often become combative. A similar story on The Daily Beast last year detailed the alleged behind-the-scenes drama on the second season of Euphoria.

Hearing crew members describe a toxic workplace is always disappointing, because film sets should be inclusive environments where every creative person is valued and their voices championed. There is no place for the kind of behavior detailed in the Rolling Stone report, regardless of how good or bad The Idol actually ends up being. The show also stars Troye Sivan, Suzanna Son, and Rachel Sennott, and is expected to be released later this year. You can watch Tesfaye’s response here, and stay tuned to Collider for more updates.

via Collider

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