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HBO CEO Casey Bloys Sent Twitter Trolls After TV Critics

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Man with trauma from war.
Photo: Merrick Morton

The most beautiful thing about lawsuits is mostly unrelated to the lawsuit itself: all the stupid stuff that we, the public, get to learn about the private goings-on about those involved. And did we get a juicy one about a high-powered man today! According to Rolling Stone, a wrongful termination lawsuit against HBO was filed in July by former HBO staffer Sully Temori against senior VP of drama programming Kathleen McCaffrey, head of drama Francesca Orsi, Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye, and two producers for The Idol. Part of the material includes texts from the network’s CEO Casey Bloys imploring lower-level staffers to create fake accounts on Twitter to respond to critics talking about their shows and on websites discussing HBO. We at Vulture believe this to be very funny and something that is welcome to continue (due to it being funny).

Some of the tweets reportedly included a response to Rolling Stone TV critic Alan Sepinwall following his negative review of 2021’s The Nevers. “Alan is always predictably safe and scared in his opinions,” the tweet, purportedly from Kelly Shepherd, a “Texas mom and herbalist” but actually sent by Temori following instructions by McCaffrey, read. The same account later tweeted at New York Times chief TV critic James Poniewozik (and referenced fellow Times TV critic Mike Hale), following his tweet that The Nevers “feels like watching a show that someone has mysteriously deleted 25% of the scenes from,” saying, “How shocking that two middle aged white men (you & Hale) are shitting on a show about women…….”

The trolling also included commenting on Deadline articles about HBO. Following a comment on one article claiming that HBO had gone downhill since the former head of HBO programming Michael Lombardo left the company, Bloys instructed a staffer to comment, “Hi David Levine! HBO seems just fine thanks!” jokingly implying that the commenter was actually Levine, the potentially bitter ex-co-head of drama who left HBO in 2019.

Rolling Stone notes that Vulture’s own TV critic Kathryn VanArendonk angered Bloys by subtweeting Perry Mason in 2020 with the criticism, “Dear prestige TV, please find some way to communicate male trauma besides showing me a flashback to the hero’s memories of trench warfare.” In response to the tweet, Bloys reportedly sent texts to McCaffrey, including, “Maybe a Twitter user should tweet that that’s a pretty blithe response to what soldiers legitimately go through on [the] battlefield,” and, “We just need a random to make the point and make her feel bad.”

Ultimately, Bloys decided not to respond to VanArendonk’s tweet, and it’s possible that the revelations in the Rolling Stone piece may lead to the end of HBO execs responding to critics online via troll accounts altogether. But to that we say: No, don’t stop! They provide an oasis of delightful executive nonsense in X’s billionaire-controlled wasteland! In fact, just to get things started, we asked VanArendonk to provide us with some more HBO opinions that she welcomes Bloys to respond to in the coming days, which you can read below:

• Calling the streaming service Max and diminishing the HBO brand was a bad idea.

• The Gilded Age would be more fun if it were more explicitly a metaphor for David Zaslav.

• Perry Mason should’ve gotten seven more seasons, easily.

• The Nevers really was that bad.

• The Last of Us is actually an elaborate and unconscious metaphor in favor of manifest destiny, and its use of the American West is just as reminiscent of Yellowstone as it is of zombie fiction.

Your move, “Kelly Shepherd.”

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