The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp and HBO Defend 'The Idol' After Reported Creative Clashes, Alleged Toxicity on Set

"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," HBO said in a statement

The Weeknd, Lily-Rose Depp and HBO Defend The Idol
The Weeknd and Lily-Rose Depp. Photo: Alexander Tamargo/WireImage, Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye, Lily-Rose Depp and HBO are speaking out amid reports of creative clashes and alleged toxicity on the set of upcoming series The Idol.

In a statement to PEOPLE, HBO denied the recent accusations, which were made in a report by Rolling Stone, and shared how the network is excited about the new direction of the show.

"The creators and producers of The Idol have been working hard to create one of HBO's most exciting and provocative original programs," the statement read. "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."

The statement continued, "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." The Idol | Official Teaser | HBO
Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd. HBO

The creative vision of the upcoming music-industry drama — which follows a rising pop star (Depp) who falls into a relationship with a self-help guru and nightclub owner (The Weeknd) — was overhauled in April with creator Sam Levinson stepping in as a director.

Levinson, 38, is best known for pushing the boundary with his creative works, including on HBO's Emmy Award-winning hit, Euphoria.

Sam Levinson
Sam Levinson. Leon Bennett/Getty

Depp, 23, praised Levinson's new direction for the series and his collaborative nature in a statement to PEOPLE.

"Sam is, for so many reasons, the best director I have ever worked with," she said. "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," she continued. "He hires people whose work he esteems and has always created an environment in which I felt seen, heard, and appreciated." The Idol | Official Teaser | HBO
The Idol. HBO

On Instagram, The Weeknd, 33, also alluded to the reported drama, writing, "@rollingstone did we upset you ?" alongside a never-before-seen clip from The Idol, which poked fun at the music publication.

In the video, Depp and The Weeknd's characters are dismayed when a manager (Dan Levy) suggests the pop star appear on the cover of Rolling Stone, calling the publication "irrelevant" and "past its prime."

Despite The Weeknd's veiled dig, a source with knowledge of production tells PEOPLE the footage had not been seen by the public, or Rolling Stone, ahead of Wednesday's article and that it was filmed sometime last year.

Earlier on Wednesday, 13 unnamed members of the show's cast and crew opened up to Rolling Stone about the alleged drastic story changes that occurred after Levinson replaced former director Amy Seimetz.

"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 crew member told the publication of of Levinson's vision for the series.

According to the publication, the new scripts contained "disturbing sexual and physically violent scenes between Depp and Tesfaye's characters."

In addition to the script changes, the production was also affected by delays and reshoots. Levinson allegedly scrapped the initial $54-75 million show to reshoot it, according to the report.

PEOPLE has reached out to representatives for Levinson. The Idol | Official Teaser | HBO
Lily-Rose Depp in The Idol. HBO

In April, HBO announced a total reset for The Idol, which was initially ordered as a six-episode series.

"The Idol's creative team continues to build, refine, and evolve their vision for the show and they have aligned on a new creative direction," a spokeswoman for HBO told Deadline.

"The production will be adjusting its cast and crew accordingly to best serve this new approach to the series," the spokesperson continued. "We look forward to sharing more information soon."

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The Idol is set to premiere in 2023 on HBO.

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