Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Weeknd, Already on the Outs with the Grammys, Goes After Rolling Stone So They Rip Apart His New Show (Got That?)


The Weeknd — Abel Tesfaye — doesn’t mind mixing it up with the established music world. He’s already been in a long running feud with The Grammys since they totally snubbed his huge hit album, “After Hours.”

Once that happened, he declared he was done with them. It’s unclear whether there was already bad blood, which led to the snub. But now The Weeknd gets no buzz off the Grammys– and the awards machine just moved on without blinking.

Now The Weeknd is warring with Rolling Stone, which is still a force in the music biz. It’s not like it was in the 70s or 80s. but Rolling Stone is still the main music magazine.

What happened? Rolling Stone has eviscerated The Weeknd’s coming series on HBO called “The Idol,” in which the R&B singer stars. (This is not be confused with the great cult movie, “The Idolmaker.”)

In the magazine article, writer Cheyenne Roundtree — who writes a lot of cool exposés — says “The Idol” is a mess. “Euphoria” creator Sam Levinson took over for director Amy Seimetz. Since then the magazine says, Levinson — whose “Euphoria” already pushes the envelope with sex and drugs — really goes for it. They say Levinson turned one episode into a “rape fantasy” involving a character played by Lily Rose-Depp. Depp responded, as did HBO, claiming all is well. But it sounds like “The Idol” is a huge mess, and quite out of control.

The Weeknd responded to all this by posting an unreleased scene from “The Idol” on Instagram. In the scene. “Schitt’s Creek” star Dan Levy plays a manager or publicist of Tesfaye’s music star. Sitting poolside at a mansion, Levy tells Tesfaye’s character he can get him the cover of Rolling Stone, but Tesfaye doesn’t want it and calls the 50 year old music bible, “Irrelevant.” He continues to demean the Stone before turning it down.

Next to the video he posted on Instagram, The Weeknd writes: “Did we upset you?”

The weird thing is, it seems like this scene was already filmed. Did Rolling Stone know they were getting slagged in the show and launched a pre-emptive attack by investigating the show?

TV shows about music really rarely work. Either the tone is all wrong, or it seems outsider-y, or the facts are garbled. HBO tried famous to do a music series called “Vinyl,” which ended in tears and cancellation. Denis Leary was in a show so bad no one remembers it or saw it (“SexandDrugsandRockandRoll”). “Empire” came close briefly and then descended into self-parody. The only one that ever worked was the animated “Josie and the Pussycats” (and maybe tHe Partridge Family”).

As for The Weeknd, all this negative energy in his own business isn’t doing him any favors. “After Hours” sold a stunning 4.5 million albums, of which 645,000 were CDs, LPS, and downloads. The follow up, “Dawn FM,” only did 1.3 million total, and 240K were physical not streaming. The “Dawn FM” numbers were enviable, but show a big drop off. Now Tesfaye wants to be an actor. I’ve got a feeling The Weeknd feels he’s popular and young enough to buck the system and do what he wants without considering the consequences. We’ll see how that goes. It may not be just his face he can feel soon.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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