Before everyone discovered just how problematic and potentially disastrous production for the new HBO series The Idol has been, the show already seemed exhausting. Now, after a tumultuous day involving a damning Rolling Stone investigation and a cringe-inducing, petulant reaction from a celebrity who should know better, the Weeknd and Euphoria creator Sam Levinson’s HBO collaboration has become the most reviled project on the internet—which is impressive, given no one even knows yet when it might be released.
Hollywood typically trades in controlled chaos: firestorms, tornados, and avalanches of potential calamity caused by outsized egos, amplified by ungodly amounts of money. Miraculously, all of that is reined in by the army of publicists, handlers, and crisis managers, who work frantically to make sure that the public only finds out what they want us to know. When that typically shrouded havoc sees the light, the way it has with The Idol, it’s alarming to a point that approaches unsettling.
As the week comes to an end, I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s not just one of the worst PR nightmares I’ve seen in recent memory, but perhaps across my entire career.
Things like this aren’t supposed to happen. Production insiders aren’t supposed to speak so freely to the press (even if they do so anonymously); powerful Hollywood players’ malfeasance isn’t meant to be exposed this nakedly; and the petty narcissism of certain celebs is supposed to be kept from us. That not just one but all of these things happened in this case is shocking and embarrassing…