The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp shut down the Croisette to show the price of fame — and plenty of raunchy intrigue — at the Cannes premiere of “The Idol” on Monday.
Making direct parallels to superstar meltdowns like the one suffered by Britney Spears, the HBO Original series — which is the first TV show to officially debut at Cannes — finally revealed itself at a packed gala screening.
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Revenge porn photos of bodily fluids on Depp’s face, masturbation with ice cubes, nightclub-owning scam artists and vile Hollywood sycophants populated the first two episodes of the already-controversial series.
The brainchild of “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson and Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, the series puts poor Depp through her paces as a pop phenom coming off of a psychotic break after the death of her mother. A pack of bloodsucking handlers (fabulously portrayed by Jane Adams, Hank Azaria and Eli Roth) are desperate to get a new album and tour off the ground. While blowing off steam at a seedy Hollywood dance spot, she encounters Tesfaye as a proprietor and shoulder to grind on — who soon reveals much larger ambitions for her career and his bottom line. Tesfaye’s character, Tedros, is a modern-day cult leader. The supporting cast includes Suzanna Son, Troye Sivan, Dan Levy, Rachel Sennott and more.
Brief respites from her constant sexual and financial exploitation come in the form of her bestie/assistant (Sennott) and advisor played by Da’Vine Joy Randolph — but Depp’s character is a lost lamb, looking to be seen as an artist and woman. Tesfaye’s Tedros is all too happy to step in.
Similar to Levinson’s “Euphoria,” the production of “The Idol” was met with reports of on-set turmoil due to a poor working environment, last-minute script rewrites and budgetary issues. Original director Amy Seimetz exited the show in April 2022 with several episodes already shot due to a change in creative direction. Reports at the time claimed that Tesfaye felt the series was leaning too much into a “female perspective,” though the pop star has denied such claims.
In a statement sent to Variety at the time, HBO stressed 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,” the network added, refuting claims the production was a toxic work environment.
Defending Levinson against those same accusations, Depp said in a 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.”
A source close to the show’s production continues to dispute HBO’s response, saying top execs at the network as well as Tesfaye himself were “nothing short of effusive” after seeing the original early episodes. “To say it wasn’t to ‘industry standards’ or not ‘working’ as Levinson has said in a Vanity Fair interview is pure revisionist history,” the source added.
“The Idol” is set to premiere June 4 on HBO.
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