“The Idol” stars singer The Weeknd, whose birth name is Abel Tesfaye, and Lily-Rose Depp. Created by Tesfaye and “Euphoria” showrunner Sam Levinson, who is also directing, the series follows Jocelyn (Depp), an aspiring pop singer who begins a complicated romantic relationship with Los Angeles club owner and secret cult leader Tedros (Tesfaye). The recent Rolling Stone report shared that 13 anonymous sources from the show’s cast and crew claim that it has been experiencing production issues, such as significant rewrites and reshoots, since the first day of filming in late 2021. The report suggests that the situation worsened under the direction of Sam Levinson, who replaced former director Amy Seimetz.
The exact nature and extent of Jennie’s role has not been disclosed.
Levinson was reportedly excited that Jennie would be joining “The Idol.” However, cast and crew members allege that the BLACKPINK rapper’s actual role in the show is minuscule with barely any screen time and an “inconsequential” character arc.
“It was like three or four lines per episode for her,” one source said. “They didn’t let her talk that much. Her job was to sit there [and] look pretty, basically.”
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Another crewmember called Levinson’s particular direction “like any rape fantasy that any toxic man would have in the show — and then the woman comes back for more because it makes her music better.”
Tesfaye and Levinson both reportedly deemed the show’s original concept and feminist lens as too heavily focused on Depp’s character, which caused them to scrap what they already had, a move that cost $75 million.
Sources said Tesfaye wanted the show to be about him, with one source claiming, “It was a show about a woman who was finding herself sexually, turned into a show about a man who gets to abuse this woman and she loves it.”
HBO refuted the allegations and defended the production in a statement to Variety:
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.
Depp came to Levinson’s defense as well with her own statement to Variety:
Sam is, for so many reasons, the best director I have ever worked with. Never have I felt more supported or respected in a creative space, my input and opinions more valued. 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.
In a now-viral response to Rolling Stone’s exposé, Tesfaye posted a clip on Twitter and Instagram from the show depicting his character and Depp’s declining to interview with Rolling Stone, calling them “irrelevant” and pointing out that they only have 6 million Instagram followers, “half of them probably bought.” In his posts, Tesfaye tagged Rolling Stone and wrote, “Did we upset you?”
Three trailers have been released for “The Idol” so far. The series is slated to premiere this year, but an official release date has yet to be announced.