Claims made by a former HBO staffer have revealed the network’s CEO demanded an employee make secret social media accounts to respond to online criticism.
In papers filed at the Los Angeles Superior Court, Sully Temori claims Casey Bloys, the studio’s CEO, was commanding a ‘secret army’ to push back against TV critics posting unfavorable reviews of HBO titles.
Temori’s wrongful termination and harassment lawsuit singles out HBO’s senior vice president of drama programming, Kathleen McCaffrey, who allegedly requested asked him to create fake accounts in June 2020.
He says Bloys was ‘obsessed with Twitter‘ and ‘always wants to pick a fight’ on the platform.
McCaffrey reportedly would instruct Temori on behalf of Bloys to create fake online accounts to respond to critics on social media and other publication’s articles, Rolling Stone reports.
The lawsuit has revealed that the studio’s CEO, Casey Bloys was commanding a ‘secret army’ to push back against TV critics posting unfavorable reviews of HBO titles
According to messages analyzed by the publication, Kathleen McCaffrey asked Temori to create fake accounts in June 2020, explaining that Bloys was ‘obsessed with Twitter’ and ‘always wants to pick a fight on Twitter’
‘He always texts me asking me to find friends to reply … is there a way to create a dummy account that can’t be traced to us to do his bidding,’ McCaffrey asked him.
Temori’s attorney, Michael Martinez, told Rolling Stone that his client created a fake Twitter account to comply with his bosses’ requests and began to hit back at critics.
One such instance was when the show, The Nevers premiered in April 2021 and Rolling Stone chief TV critic Alan Sepinwall gave the show a two-and-a-half star rating, which irked Bloys.
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.’
On the same day, a newly created account named ‘Kelly Shepherd’, a self-described Texas mom and herbalist, responded to Sepinwall’s tweet about his review with the same exact message.
Soon enough, Shepherd began to respond to multiple critics, either criticizing them or praising HBO and Bloys in the comment section.
When the same show was criticized by New York Times chief TV critic James 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.
The account’s profile picture appeared to be a stock photo used across several international business websites. Martinez confirmed to Rolling Stone that Temori had made the fake account under Shepherd’s name.
Bloys’ plot also involved Temori commenting on articles by other publications under his instructions.
The user 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.’
The Nevers premiered in April 2021 and Rolling Stone chief TV critic Alan Sepinwall gave the show a two-and-a-half star rating, which irked Bloys
When the same show was criticized by New York Times chief TV critic James Poniewozik, Temeri under his fake alias, was asked to write: ‘ How shocking that two middle aged white men (you & Hale) are shitting on a show about women…….’ under the tweet
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!’
His message was posted verbatim on Deadline’s website.
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.