CEO of HBO Confirms He Used Fake Twitter Accounts to Send Angry Messages to Critics

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By: Alyssa Miller | Published: Feb 05, 2024

HBO CEO Casey Bloys admitted to creating and using multiple different aliases on X to criticize critics’ negative reviews of HBO’s programming.

Casey Bloys talking on stage

Source: Jerod Harris /Getty Images for Vox Media

HBO CEO Casey Bloys admitted to creating and using multiple different aliases on X to criticize critics’ negative reviews of HBO’s programming.

Bloys Apologizes for Using Fake Accounts to Troll Critics

Variety reports that Bloys started a presentation at HBO’s New York headquarters, an event to promote HBO and Max’s 2024 slate of programming, which has been planned since October 16, with his apology.

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Casey Bloys headshot

Source: Warner Bros. Discovery

“For those of you who know me, you know that I am a programming executive who is very, very passionate about the shows that we decide to do. And the people who do them and the people who work on them,” Bloys said Thursday morning.

Why Did Bloys Create Multiple Fake Accounts?

According to a Rolling Stone article, leaked messages from Bloys reveal that he was looking for friends with secret handles he could use as “a random [person] to make the point and make [the critic] feel bad.”

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Rolling Stone has published the thread of messages between Bloys and HBO’s senior vice president of drama programming, Kathleen McCaffrey, that mentioned things like a “secret army” of accounts to hit back at unfavorable reviews.

Who Helped Bloy Create these Fake Accounts?

Former employee Sully Temori was a former executive assistant at HBO, and claims he was instructed to make an X account under the name of Kelly Shepherd (who self-describes as a vegan Texan mom) so Bloys could respond to negative reviews of his show.

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X logo on a black background

Source: X

At Bloys’ request, Temori sent tweets from this account in response to critics’ negative reviews. Temori told Rolling Stone that he left anonymous comments on some Deadline articles as well in response to other users’ negative remarks about HBO series and executives at the request of Bloys.

Bloys’ Fake Account Response to Negative Reviews of HBO Series

One tweet from the fake account was directed to New York Times chief TV critic Jaems Poniewozik, who said Joss Whedon’s sci-fi drama series The Nevers “feels like watching a show that someone has mysteriously deleted 25% of the scenes from.”

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Bloys responded as Shepherd, writing: “How shocking that two middle aged white men (you & [Times TV critic Mike] Hale) are -expletive- on a show about women.”

Bloys and McCaffrey Exchanged Messages about Who to Respond To

In the alleged text exchanges, Bloys and McCaffrey often discussed replying to critics who spoke negatively about many HBO series, including Perry Mason and Mare of Easttown, through fake X accounts.

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Kate Winslet as Marianne "Mare" Sheehan stepping out of a car in “Mare of Easttown”

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Rolling Stone stated that these text messages were provided by Termori, reviewed by their metadate, and verified as real text messages.

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Why Is Termori Suing?

Termori’s lawsuit alleges that he faced retaliation and discrimination after disclosing a mental health diagnosis at work. The lawsuit also mentions McCaffrey, HBO head of drama Francesca Orsi, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, and two producers of the now-canceled HBO drama The Idol.

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Abel Tesfaye as Tedros in a bar in “The Idol”

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The Idol was a five episode mini-series that follows a young pop star having a nervous breakdown that caused the cancellation of her last tour, and starting a complicated relationship with a self-help guru and the head of a contemporary cult.

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What Is “The Idol”?

The Idol created a lot of controversy for its awkward sex scenes, incoherent story, and poor acting from Tesfaye.

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Abel Tesfaye as Tedros and Lily Rose Depp as Jocelyn in a car in “The Idol”

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In March 2023, Rolling Stone published an expose on the HBO drama, which detailed Sam Levison, the show’s director, facing accusations of shoehorning sexual and violent scenes into the script, and wasting millions of dollars during production after scrapping the previous director’s nearly complete show.

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Temori’s Alleged Mistreatment on the Set of “The Idol”

In Temori’s lawsuit, the executive assistant alleges that he was mistreated on the set of The Idol once he became the scripted coordinator on the project in 2021, a position he was moved to from his executive assistant role.

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Lily Rose Depp as Jocelyn dancing with men in “The Idol”

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Termori was laid off in October 2021. He alleges that he was harassed and faced retaliation and discrimination after disclosing a mental health diagnosis to his bosses.

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HBO Responds to Termori’s Lawsuit

In response to Temori’s lawsuit, lawyers for HBO requested a judge to dismiss the complaint, and said the HBO denies “each and every allegation.”

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In a statement to Rolling Stone, HBO said it “intends to vigorously defend against Mr. Termori’s allegations. We look forward to a full and fair resolution of this dispute. In the meantime, we wish Mr. Temori, a former HBO employee, well in his future endeavors.”

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Bloys Confirms One of Termori’s Allegations Is True

However, Bloys’ apology confirms that some of Termori’s allegations were true. Bloys defended his actions of having an executive assistant create fake X accounts and respond to negative comments on his behalf by saying, “I want the shows to be great. I want people to love them. I want you all to love them.”

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Bloys continued, “It’s very important to me what you all think of the shows. So when you think of that mindset, and then think of 2020 and 2021, I’m home, working from home and spending an unhealthy amount of scrolling through Twitter. And I come up with a very, very dumb idea to vent my frustration.”

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Bloys Tries to Take Responsibility for His Actions

While Bloys took accountability for his actions, seemingly blaming COVID-19 and doom scrolling on X for his inappropriate behavior online, the chairman and CEO said that “six tweets over a year and a half is not very effective,” to validate why he did this.

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Casey Bloys on stage

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“But I do apologize to the people who were mentioned in the leaked texts,” Bloys said. “Obviously, nobody wants to be part of a story that they have nothing to do with. But also, as many of you know, I have progressed over the past couple of years to using DMs.”

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Bloys Will No Longer Use Fake X Accounts

In an attempt to take responsibility for his actions, Bloys announced that he will take responsibility for his personal issues with reviews or comments toward his programming at HBO and Max and reach out to critics personally.

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Casey Bloys on stage

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“So now, when I take issue with something in a review, or take issue with something I see, I DM many of you, and many of you are gracious enough to engage with me in a back and forth and I think that is probably a much healthier way to go about this,” Bloys said.

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Bloys Brushes the Allegations Under the Rug

After his apology, Bloys quickly moved on to start the presentation with footage from the upcoming seasons of True Detective: Night Country, which is the fourth season of True Detective starring Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as the lead detectives in the analog series.

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Lobby of the HBO offices

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While Bloys is quick to move on, brushing this issue under the rug, time will tell how Temori’s claims against HBO and its productions will unfold and how the company will shift future productions with highly controversial directors and executives.

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