‘The Idol’ Finale: What Happened To That ‘Rolling Stone’ Scene?

Lily-Rose Depp and Abel Tesfaye in “The Idol.” Credit: Eddy Chen/HBO

Much of the controversy surrounding the release of The Idol stemmed from an investigative report by Rolling Stone(opens in a new tab) published in March, two months before the HBO series’ premiered at Cannes Film Festival. Thirteen sources alleged that production on the series was “a shitshow,” and that after director and co-creator Sam Levinson replaced director Amy Seimetz on the project, The Idol went from dark satire to “torture porn” and “rape fantasy.”

So how did co-creator and top-billed star Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye respond to these serious allegations? With a social media clapback.

Tesfaye posted a clip from the upcoming season to his Twitter and Instagram, along with the caption, “@rollingstone did we upset you?” In the clip, the show’s pop star Jocelyn (Lily-Rose Depp) and sleazy club owner Tedros Tedros (Tesfaye) shoot down publicist Benjamin’s (Dan Levy) suggestion of a Jocelyn Rolling Stone cover.

“Rolling Stone?” Tedros asks. “Aren’t they a little irrelevant?”

Tweet may have been deleted (opens in a new tab) Tesfaye’s response garnered criticism(opens in a new tab) for its immaturity in the face of Rolling Stone’s exposé, as well as for the scene’s acting and writing. From there, audiences played a waiting game to see just when this totally sick burn on Rolling Stone would actually play out on The Idol.

Turns out, never! The Rolling Stone scene is absent throughout the show’s five-episode run — except for clips from its bloopers in the finale’s end credits montage sequence. For a show that loves to court controversy, it’s a strange choice for The Idol to pretty much exclude one of its most buzzed-about scenes, especially after hyping it up so much.

On top of the general absence of the Rolling Stone scene, Tesfaye’s post also serves as a reminder that Levy was once more involved in The Idol. The Emmy winner disappeared from the show after its first episode, where he played a pretty significant role on Jocelyn’s team. Based on Tedros’ presence and influence in the Rolling Stone clip, it’s likely that the scene featured in a later episode after Tedros and Jocelyn first met. So how much more of Levy’s character was cut, and why? And why cut the Rolling Stone scene beyond a flicker in a montage after posting about it in the first place?

Scenes get left on the cutting room floor all the time in film and TV. In fact, several snippets from The Idol teasers didn’t make it into the show either. However, the context of this scene and how it was promoted make it a special case. Tesfaye may have posted the clip to deflect from Rolling Stone’s reports of behind-the-scenes chaos, but ironically, its relative absence draws even more attention to that very same turmoil.

Belen Edwards is an Entertainment Reporter at Mashable. She covers movies and TV with a focus on fantasy and science fiction, adaptations, animation, and more nerdy goodness.

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