- CEO Casey Bloys apologized to TV critics for forcing staff to troll them with mean posts
- Revelations of his ‘secret army’ of fake accounts came via a lawsuit filed by a former employee
HBO CEO Casey Bloys apologized to TV critics after revelations surfaced he forced staffers to create fake accounts and write mean posts, saying it was a ‘very dumb idea.’
As part of a wrongful termination and harassment lawsuit filed by former HBO staffer Sully Temori, it was alleged the CEO was commanding a ‘secret army’ to push back against critics.
‘I came up with a very, very dumb idea to vent my frustration,’ Bloys said at an HBO and Max programming slate, reported Variety.
‘I do apologize to the people who were mentioned in the leaked email, texts. Obviously, nobody wants to be part of a story that they had nothing to do with.’
Temori claims HBO’s senior vice president of drama programming, Kathleen McCaffrey directed him on behalf of Bloys to create fake online accounts to respond to critics on social media and other publications’ articles.
The revelation is part of the lawsuit, but not yet public, and first reported by Rolling Stone.
‘For those of you who know me, you know that I am a programming executive, very, very passionate about the shows that we decided to do, and the people who do them and the people who work on them, I want the shows to be great,’ Bloys said.
‘So when you think of that mindset, and then think of 2020 and 2021. I’m home working from home, spending an unhealthy amount of time scrolling through Twitter.’
The New York Times’ James Poniewozik and Mike Hale and The Rolling Stones’ Alan Sepinwall were targets of the online attacks.
In one instance when the show The Nevers premiered in April 2021, Sepinwall gave it a two-and-a-half star rating.
McCaffrey soon texted Temori and said: ‘Casey is looking for a tweeter … he’s mad at Alan Sepinwall.’
‘Can our secret operative please tweet at Alan’s review: “Alan is always predictably safe and scared in his opinions”. And then we have to delete this chain right? Omg I just got scared lol.’
Following the exchange, a newly created account named ‘Kelly Shepherd’, a self-described Texas mom and herbalist, responded to Sepinwall’s tweet about his review with that message.
Martinez confirmed to Rolling Stone that Temori had made the fake account under Shepherd’s name.
When The Nevers was criticized by Poniewozik, Temeri under his fake alias, was asked to write: ‘ How shocking that two middle-aged white men (you & Hale) are sh**ing on a show about women…….’ under the tweet.
After Sepinwall gave HBO’s Mare of Easttown a poor review, Bloys allegedly directed the troll account to say, ‘Alan missed on Succession and totally misses here because he is busy virtue signaling.’
Shortly after, the Shepherd account posted just that.
Bloys said of the tweets, ‘Obviously, six tweets over a year and a half is not very effective. But as also, as many of you know, I have progressed over the past couple of years and using DM so now when I take issue with something in review, or take issue with something I see I DM many of you and many of you are gracious enough to engage with me back and forth.’
The CEO also directed staffers to comment on articles with bad reviews.
One commenter on the TV and film industry news website Deadline had written: ‘HBO became a joke as soon as Lombardo left the current group are idiots. Blogs is a cocky useless puppet who has no sense. Orsi is dumb as a rock. Any is nice but clueless.’
According to texts, Bloys asked: ‘Someone actually says we went downhill after [HBO’s former president of programming Michael] Lombardo left! Please have them post, ‘Hi David Levine! HBO seems just fine thanks!’
Another anonymous comment said, ‘[Former HBO CEO Richard] Plepler was 2000’s, the future is Bloys.’
To which an anonymous user replied, ‘Plepler was the 2000’s, the future is Bloys.’
The network has not denied the existence of these messages and has refused to comment on them. In a statement, a spokesperson said: ‘HBO intends to vigorously defend against Mr. Temori’s allegations.’
‘We are not going to comment on select exchanges between programmers and errant tweets.’
Temori sued as a John Doe and alleged that he was harassed over his disability and sexual orientation.
The complaint also names The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) and two other executive producers on his show, The Idol, alleging that they bullied Temori to push him out of his job at the studio.