Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

The Weeknd and his crew say this The Idol stuff is all a big misunderstanding

The Weeknd has deemed Rolling Stone "irrelevant" following its report on the show's working conditions

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
The Weeknd
The Weeknd
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic (Getty Images)

Following the incendiary report published by Rolling Stone about the behind-the-scenes of HBO’s The Idol, the show’s lead and co-creator, Abel Tesfaye a.k.a. The Weeknd has shared a snippet from the forthcoming series in which his cult-leader character calls the publication “irrelevant.”

The short scene from The Idol features the singer, in which Tesfaye’s Tedros grimaces at the idea of a Rolling Stone cover shoot, with the caption, “Did we upset you?”


Rolling Stone? Aren’t they a little irrelevant?” Tedros says in the clip. “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.”


It’s little lame to imply that a legacy publication sought out 13 sources from the cast and crew to share their stories of the toxic workplace as a vendetta against an unseen clip from a Sam Levinson show. It’s also a bit bold to belittle a publication that’s put you on the cover three times, but you do you, we guess.

The response does little to shed light on the allegations concerning The Idol’s set and creative direction, which has been described as “gone wildly, disgustingly off the rails.” In the expose from Rolling Stone, sources from production claim that Tesfaye disagreed with The Idol’s original director, Amy Seimetz, and argued the show focused too much on Depp’s character and the “female perspective.” The piece also says the show’s premise has devolved into a “rape fantasy” fit with “torture porn.”

The clip does however show a lot about the quality of acting, dialogue, and directing that all the firing, check cashing, and rewrites have resulted in. The clip ultimately poses the question, are we supposed to be aligning our view with the “modern day cult-leader” who exploits and abuses young women, or are we supposed to see him as a clown with no expertise on media relations? Either way, neither connotation works in Tesfaye’s favor.

Members of The Weeknd’s camp claim that the allegations made in the article concerning Seimetz departure are “simply not true,” and the director left the series for undisclosed reasons. In an email to The A.V. Club, a source claimed that “When you see the show you will understand these rumors are false.” Other sources have told Variety that the “female perspective” is still very much written into the fabric of the show. This is unfortunately something we will not know for sure until the show premieres, but there still is no set release day for the 6-episode season.