July 21, 2024

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These online trolls attacking TV critics?  They were from HBO.

These online trolls attacking TV critics? They were from HBO.

Casey Bloys, chairman of HBO, has a reputation in the entertainment industry as an effective programmer and an easy-going executive who stays out of controversies.

It all came to light at a press conference on Thursday, addressing his role in the middle of a media storm, which was very eye-catching.

Mr. Bloys admitted to his involvement in an attempt to create fake Twitter accounts to respond to television critics who had negative views of HBO programming. Yes, he said, it was “a very, very stupid idea to vent my frustration.”

The comments, made at an event focused on the network’s upcoming shows, came a day later Rolling Stone reported About Mr. Bloys’s efforts to respond to critics on Twitter. The article caught the attention of many in the entertainment industry, with many rival executives privately pondering how the HBO CEO could be so sensitive. New York Magazine called it a “mini-scandal” and “possibly the funniest thing to happen in the media in years.”

Rolling Stone said in its article that Mr. Blues and Kathleen McCaffrey, another HBO executive, began discussing the Twitter plan starting in June 2020. (Twitter has since been renamed X.)

“Who can go on a mission?” Mr. Bloys wrote to his colleague, according to the report. He asked to find a “spy” who would be “arm’s length” from HBO executives. “We just need some random person to make the point and make them feel bad,” he wrote, referring to a critic.

The article stated that a former HBO employee created a fake Twitter account and began responding to critics.

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Rolling Stone found the text messages while reporting on a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former employee, Sulley Temuri, who is suing the network along with two top executives and several producers of the now-canceled “The Idol,” where he worked.

Rolling Stone reported that the posts sent to the critics — as well as anonymous comments on the entertainment trade publication, Deadline — were dated from June 2020 to April 2021.

“Think about 2020 and 2021, I’m at home working from home, spending an unhealthy amount of time scrolling through Twitter,” Mr. Bloys said on Thursday.

He continued: “I apologize to the people mentioned in the leaked emails and texts.” “Obviously no one wants to be part of a story they have nothing to do with.”

Executives at HBO, like other networks that specialize in prestige television, strongly consider critical response as a metric for determining whether or not a show will be renewed. The network has historically filled critics’ favorite lists and has been a dominant player in television awards shows.

“I want people to like it,” Mr. Bloys said Thursday, referring to the network’s shows. “I want you all to love them. It’s very important to me what you all think of the shows.

Mr. Bloys then indicated that he had moved on from the fake Twitter account tactic, and instead reached out to critics directly through the direct message button.

“As many of you know, I have progressed over the past couple of years in the use of direct messaging,” Mr. Bloys said. “Now, when I take issue with something in the review, or take issue with something I see, I send a direct message to many of you, and many of you have been generous enough to engage with me back and forth. And I think that’s probably a healthier way to do it.”

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