Abel Tesfaye, better known as pop singer The Weeknd, has swiftly responded to a Rolling Stone report that alleges chaos behind the scenes of Tesfaye’s upcoming HBO series The Idol.
Though Tesfaye did not respond to Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment in their piece — titled “The Idol: How HBO’s Next Euphoria Became Twisted ‘Torture Porn'” — he did post a tweet on Wednesday asking, “@RollingStone did we upset you?” Attached is a clip from The Idol, in which Tesfaye’s character, Tedros, refuses to let aspiring pop star Jocelyn (played by Lily-Rose Depp) do a cover shoot with the aforementioned magazine. (“Rolling Stone? Aren’t they a little… irrelevant?” Tedros asks Dan Levy’s character. “Yeah, nobody cares about Rolling Stone.”)
The (real-life) article in Rolling Stone, which is owned by TVLine’s parent company Penske Media Corporation, chronicles alleged turmoil on the set of The Idol, which has yet to secure a premiere date at HBO despite the release of three teaser trailers. Via interviews with several members of The Idol‘s cast and crew, the piece details — among other setbacks — a massive creative overhaul that found director Amy Seimetz getting replaced by co-creator Sam Levinson (Euphoria) when production was nearly complete; when Levinson took over, he reportedly scrapped the entire first product and reshot the season anew.
In addition to alleged last-minute rewrites and ever-changing production timelines, sources claimed that Levinson’s new approach to the series turned The Idol into “sexual torture porn.” The series, described in its logline as the “sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood,” follows Depp’s starlet Jocelyn as she navigates the music industry and ultimately falls under the control of nightclub owner-turned-cult leader Tedros. But even though Seimetz’s version of the show did include nudity and sexual content, Levinson’s new take allegedly featured “disturbing sexual and physically violent scenes” between Depp and Tesfaye’s characters, including (unfilmed) material in which Depp’s character welcomes physical and sexual abuse.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, HBO defended both The Idol and the production process, adding 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.”
This is not the first time a production of Levinson’s has come under scrutiny: During Euphoria‘s second season, allegations surfaced of a toxic and unsafe working environment on set, which HBO similarly refuted.