New details have been released about the changes to A24's The Idol series

Produced by The Weeknd and the team behind 'Euphoria', the upcoming hyped music drama has cut one of its stars and is changing its POV.

by Douglas Greenwood
28 April 2022, 10:00am

Instagram/A24/Instagram/Republic Records

Earlier this year a coterie of stars gathered in Los Angeles to shoot an A24 limited series that promised to be the talk of 2022. It’s called The Idol, and was the brainchild of Sam Levinson, Reza Fahim and The Weeknd, who’s involved in just about every part of the process as its co-creator, co-writer, executive producer and lead actor.

The last time Sam Levinson linked up with a musician, said musician was Drake and the result was Euphoria. So with a potential new hit on their hands, A24 knew exactly what to do: gather a group of established actors and up-and-coming talent — as well as a few musical crossover stars — and get to work.

However it seems some of them will have to reshoot their scenes after HBO has announced it would be making major changes to the creative vision of the show, which will include adjustments to the cast and production crew. “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 HBO spokesperson told Deadline. “The production will be adjusting its cast and crew accordingly to best serve this new approach to the series.”

Since then, Deadline have shared more details surrounding what exactly would be changing in the show that had reportedly already filmed four or five episodes. Updates, it seems, include not just a shift in the perspective of the show, but they’ve also cut one of the stars and the director completely. They might even be scaling back on the number of episodes. Sounds messy! Here’s what we know so far about The Idol.

What’s the plot of The Idol?

When first announced, the show was about a young female popstar who falls into a relationship with an unruly, enigmatic owner of an LA nightclub… who also happens to be the covert leader of a secret cult (hate when that happens). The plotline was then mixed up a bit, with the club owner character becoming a self-help guru and cult leader instead. The show was to focus on him specifically, exploring his relationship with the female pop star but it seems The Weeknd wasn’t happy with the show’s direction in its current form, feeling it should be even more from his perspective. It’s not clear how these new revisions will effect the narrative of the show.

How many episodes will there be?

While American TV has a habit of stretching out over two dozen episodes, those with short attention spans will be glad to know that The Idol has been reported to be commissioned as a seven-part miniseries. Think We Are Who We Are, The White Lotus and Normal People. Deadline has reported though that the current reworking of the show may lead to a smaller, unspecified episode count.

Who’s in the show’s cast?

We know that The Idol will still be led by Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, who assumed the lead role of the self-help-guru-slash-cult leader. The running order of the announcements suggests that the show’s popstar character is played by Lily Rose-Depp, making her television debut after seven years in film. It’s been confirmed she will remain in the show when it is reshot.

Though the announcement of Suzanna Son — who won critical acclaim for her complex turn as an easily-swayed schoolgirl in A24 and Sean Baker’s latest movie Red Rocket — would be included in the supporting cast had us very excited, Deadline now reports her role in the show has been cut with Son’s team declining to comment.

Popstar Troye Sivan — now segueing back into acting with this and a coming-of-age HIV drama Three Months due later this year — was also cast in an undisclosed role. He’s not the only musician that was in the mix: Tyson Ritter, the once-frontman of The All American Rejects, was cast in a recurring role too. Melanie Liburd, star of This is Us, was also set to have a recurring role, alongside Teen Wolf’s Maya Eshet. And, according to IMDB, we were even going to get a guest appearance from Skate Kitchen and Booksmart star Nico Hiraga. Now though, all of that’s up in the air.

And who’s behind the camera?

Much like The Weeknd’s involvement here, there was a multi-hyphenate team behind the camera too during The Idol’s initial production. His close confidant Reza Fahim took on several roles, as co-creator, co-writer and executive producer. He’s an LA nightlife entrepreneur turned writer, which might suggest that the show could be loosely based on some of his own experience in that world.

The show’s six episodes were all set to be directed by Amy Seimetz, who’s acted in indie films like Upstream Colour and Lean on Pete, and major TV shows like Stranger Things and The Girlfriend Experience. She’s worked behind the camera too, directing several episodes of the latter TV show and Atlanta. However, she has now left the series and as of yet no new director has been announced.

As well as A24, Bron Studios are part of the show’s creation, and so the series shares executive producers with movies like Licorice Pizza, Joker and House of Gucci. More team members — like cinematographers, production designers, make-up artists and (perhaps most importantly) who’s behind the score — are yet to be announced.

Is Britney Spears in The Idol?

Long story short, it doesn’t look like it. Back in November, the same day The Idol was announced, Britney jumped on Instagram and revealed that, since her conservatorship had ended, she’d shot a movie called The Idol. Of course, The Weeknd’s project is a show rather than a movie, but the serendipitous announcement, especially considering the show’s plot, had people thinking Britney was about to make her first post-Crossroads return to acting. The rumour was apparently debunked by Britney’s team, who, according to TMZ, claimed she had no plans to return to acting. Maybe her version of The Idol was a homemade project instead?

What’s the release date for The Idol?

Though the show was filming in LA in late January, with Troye Sivan posting selfies from his make-up trailer, the reworking of the cast, crew (and potentially the plot itself) is likely to push the release back a bit. But bearing in mind we’re getting less episodes, it’s possible they could start materialising sooner rather than later. Perhaps, then we can expect to see The Idol in late 2022? Let’s wait and see.

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The Weeknd