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“Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson is being accused of ramping up the sexual content and nudity of the upcoming HBO drama, “The Idol,” and twisting it into a “rape fantasy.”
In a damning piece published by Rolling Stone Wednesday, 13 alleged members of the series’ cast and crew spoke out over their discomfort with the show’s new creative direction.
“It was 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,” one production member told the magazine of Levinson’s version.
Another added, “It was like, ‘What is this? What am I reading here?’ It was like sexual torture porn.”
However, HBO told Page Six on Wednesday that they are pleased with how production has unfolded since Levinson took over the reins.
“The creators and producers of ‘The Idol’ have been working hard to create one of HBO’s most exciting and provocative original programs,” the network said in a statement.
“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.”
They added, “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. We look forward to sharing ‘The Idol’ with audiences soon.”
According to IMDB, “The Idol’ centers around a self-help guru and leader of a modern-day cult, played by The Weeknd, who enters into “a complicated relationship with a rising pop idol,” played by Lily-Rose Depp.
Levinson, 38, took over directorial duties after Amy Seimetz exited the show last April, with reportedly 80 percent of the series almost completely done.
“Amy was doing her best in an impossible situation, but she was going to lose this no matter what,” a production member told Rolling Stone. “Honestly, I think HBO handed her a s–t stack.” Page Six has reached out to Seimetz for comment.
Sources also told Rolling Stone that Levinson’s versions of the scripts allegedly contained “disturbing sexual and physically violent scenes” between stars Depp and The Weeknd, who is also co-creator of “The Idol.”
There was a scene in one episode in which the Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, allegedly smashes Depp’s character’s face and she smiles, asking to be beaten more, giving Tesfaye an erection. Rolling Stone was told, though, that the scene was never actually shot.
Depp, 23, tells Page Six via her rep, “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,” she continues. “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.”
Depp concludes, “He hires people whose work he esteems and has always created an environment in which I felt seen, heard, and appreciated.”
Meanwhile, a rep for The Weeknd sent Page Six a link to the performer’s Instagram post Wednesday, in which he threw shade at Rolling Stone in a scene from “The Idol,” calling them “irrelevant” and “past its prime.”
The “Save Your Tears” singer captioned the clip, “@rollingstone did we upset you?”
A rep for the Weeknd declined Page Six’s request to comment further on the claims against Levinson or that the entertainer played a role in the series’ darker direction.
According to Rolling Stones’ sources, the “Blinding Lights” singer allegedly wanted to drop the drama’s “feminist lens” and “wanted one show that was all about him.”
However, two crew members disputed that The Weeknd could be the primary focus of “The Idol,” given the pop star’s rigorous schedule.
One insider noted, “It was really frustrating because they were working so hard to make it possible to shoot and be released with his concert or whatever his timeline was [and] it all got thrown out the window.”
TMZ published a separate story Wednesday that called into question the validity of Rolling Stone’s sources, claiming that none of the 13 people the magazine spoke to had “seen the final product” of “The Idol.”
They were reportedly told that to suggest that scenes with explicit content are going to make it in the final cut is “misleading.”
A release date for “The Idol,” which first began filming in 2021, has not been announced.
A rep for Levinson could not immediately be reached for comment.
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