Following scathing reviews on the raunchy and sleazy first two episodes of The Idol at the Cannes Film Festival, director Sam Levinson and The Weeknd sat down for a press conference along with the cast of the upcoming HBO series. The series received a 5-minute standing ovation at the premiere, which in Cannes terms, was lukewarm. However, over the past year, the series has been in headlines for allegedly making the female director Amy Seimetz quit the project and getting Levinson on board. Even before the series hit the Cannes premiere, an exclusive report in Rolling Stone detailed the change in the script, last-minute rewrites, reshoots, on-set turmoil, alleged toxic work environment, and budget skyrocketing. However, The Idol co-creators Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye and Sam Levinson denied those at the Cannes press conference.
The Weeknd admits The Idol is aimed to ‘piss some people off’; Sam Levinson defends nudity in the HBO series: “I think that sometimes things that might be revolutionary are taken too far”
According to Variety, responding to the allegations, Levinson on Tuesday said, “When my wife read me the article, I looked at her and I said, ‘I think we’re about to have the biggest show of the summer.'”
He continued, “We know we’re making a show that is provocative. It’s not lost on us.” He added, “It felt completely foreign to me. My only slight grievance is they intentionally omitted anything that didn’t fit their narrative. We’ve seen a lot of that recently.”
The show’s lead star Lily-Rose Depp also said, “It’s always a little sad and disheartening to see mean, false things said about someone you care about. It wasn’t reflective at all of my experience.”
When asked if things have been taken a little too far with the series, he said, “I think that sometimes things that might be revolutionary are taken too far.” Levinson also defended the nudity in the series by saying, “We live in a very sexualized world. Especially in the States, the influence of pornography is strong in the psyche of young people. We see this in pop music. When you have a character who has a strong sense of self and a strong sexual self, you end up underestimating her.”
The Weeknd admitted that he and Levinson aimed to “create something special, something fun, to make people laugh and piss some people off.” The Idol was first in 2021 June when it was reported that HBO was developing a show which features The Weeknd as co-writer and executive producer, along with his producing partner Reza Fahim and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson. Kevin Turen, Aaron Gilbert for Bron, Ashley Levinson, Nick Hall, Sara E. White and A24 also serve as executive producers. Set in the world of the music industry in Los Angeles, the drama follows a self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult who develops a complicated relationship with an up-and-coming pop singer. The same year, HBO ordered The Idol to series.
Joe Epstein was tapped as the showrunner, with executive producer Amy Seimetz who has directed all six episodes. Epstein and Seimetz are also attached to executive produce. The series is set to premiere in 2023.
ALSO READ: BLACKPINK’s Jennie spellbinds in Chanel midi lace dress for The Idol premiere at Cannes 2023
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