Report: HBO And Max Executives Created Army Of Troll Accounts To Target Critics Of Their Movies And Television Shows, Weaponized Identity Politics

Chairman and CEO of HBO and Max Content Casey Bloys via Variety YouTube

A new report details that HBO and Max executives Casey Bloys and Kathleen McCaffrey created an army of trolls to target critics of their movies and television shows.

HBO CEO Casey Bloys via Parrot Analytics YouTube

This new report comes from Cheyenne Roundtree at Rolling Stone who claims that Bloys and McCaffrey discussed “what they called a ‘secret army’ to fire back at several TV critics on Twitter (now known as X) as well as anonymous commenters on articles about HBO programming, according to text exchanges reviewed by Rolling Stone.”

Roundtree details that the executives trolled “television critics with snarky responses from a fake Twitter account — and dropping pro-HBO comments on trade publication stories” such as Deadline.

Matthew Rhy as Perry Mason in Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 8 (HBO), 2023

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According to the Rolling Stone report, the documents they reviewed which included text exchanges between Bloys and McCaffrey are part of a lawsuit by former HBO staffer Sully Temori that accuses HBO of harassing and retaliating against him after he disclosed a mental health diagnosis.

In the lawsuit Temori alleges he created “fake online accounts to respond to critics.”

Allegedly McCaffrey came to Temori and informed him, “[Bloys] 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.”

Casey Bloys via Variety YouTube

Temori’s lawyer, Michael Martinez, informed the outlet, “First and foremost, I think [this lawsuit] is about HBO’s culture and how it fosters a dynamic of ongoing harassment and discrimination in the workplace.”

He added, “They joke about people outside of HBO, they joke about people within HBO.… You suffer through some bullying until you can’t suffer anymore.”

Kate Winslet as Mare Sheehan in Mare of Easttown (HBO Max), 2021

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Interestingly, one of the troll accounts created by Temori used identity politics to lampoon critics.

In response to a criticism of Joss Whedon’s The Nevers by The New York Times’ James Poniewozik, the troll account created by Temori posted, “how shocking that two middle aged white men (you & Hale) are s****ing on a show about women…….”

Troll account Kelly Shepherd created by Sully Temori using identity politics to criticize James Poniewozik on Twitter

An HBO spokesman informed Rolling Stone it would not “comment on select exchanges between programmers and errant tweets.”

Another statement from an HBO spokesman informed the outlet regarding the lawsuit that it “intends to vigorously defend against Mr. Temori’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.”

Ella Smith as Desirée Blodgett in The Nevers (2021), HBO

RELATED: SyFy Wire’s Dany Roth Admits to Creating Positive Reviews in Order to Maintain Access While Discussing Captain Marvel’s Rotten Tomatoes Controversy

This report comes in the wake of growing suspicion that large studios are intentionally trying to manipulate audiences into liking their programs.

Back in 2015, SyFy Wire’s Dany Roth admitted he played softball with film studios in order to maintain his access to celebrities and the studios.

On SyFy Wire’s podcast “Who Won The Week,” Roth and his co-hosts, SyFy Wire’s Contributing Editor Karama Horne and SyFy Wire’s Editor-in-Chief Adam Swiderski,  were discussing the recent changes to Rotten Tomatoes following fans indicating they were not interested in seeing Disney’s upcoming Captain Marvel movie starring Brie Larson.

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) confronts her origins in Captain Marvel (2019), Marvel Entertainment

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) confronts her origins in Captain Marvel (2019), Marvel Entertainment

Roth admitted how the access media works, “Here’s the actual reality. Here’s where we actually are in the industry if you want to talk about quote access media. Every single person that wants to have access to things early, that wants to get access to things so that traffic is drawn to their site will on occasion. Everybody at this podcast, everybody in our industry occasionally has to play softball, occasionally has to look the other way a little bit. Everybody has to do it.”

He continued, “In the sense that I hated a movie, but I won’t say that I hated a movie. Or an actor behaved a sort of way, and you don’t want to put it out there that that happened.”

Horne then chimed in, “Right, because you might not get the next review.”

Roth continued, “To some degree everybody in our industry that is part of this quote on quote access media has to decide which battles they want to pick. Which of the ones where my voice is the one that has to get said.”

RELATED: New Report Reveals Hollywood PR Firm Bunker 15 Paid For Positive Reviews To Manipulate Rotten Tomatoes Scores Of Bad Movies

In September, a report from Vulture alleged a PR firm called Bunker 15 was manipulating Rotten Tomatoes review scores in order for films to obtain higher scores.

Bunker 15’s founder Daniel Harlow stated, “We have thousands of writers in our distribution list. A small handful have set up a specific system where filmmakers can sponsor or pay to have them review a film.”

Ophelia (Daisy Ridley) attends the wedding of Claudius (Clive Owen) and Gertrude (Naomi Watts) in Ophelia (2018), Covert Media

Ophelia (Daisy Ridley) attends the wedding of Claudius (Clive Owen) and Gertrude (Naomi Watts) in Ophelia (2018), Covert Media

Gina Carano recently alleged that Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy collaborated with YouTube in order to have critics of the company’s films and TV shows removed the video platform.

She wrote on X, “This is the part where KK demands any YouTubers get censored off of YouTube for sharing and laughing at this hilarious episode, she’ll have YouTube disable the thumbs down option because of the ratio she’ll receive, then she’ll have her publicist ghouls make sure Variety and Hollywood Reporter run hit pieces about the South Park creators and their families smearing their names through every useful idiot she has under her thumb who would sell their soul to work for Lucasfilm.”

Carano continued, “She’ll activate her online mob to repeat that the South Park creators are racist, bigot, transphobes, and demand the South Park creators publicly apologize by only using words she approves of and finally she’ll demand they subject themselves to a re-education course of 45 people in the lbgtq community zoom call to sit there and listen of how badly they got their feelings hurt all over a little boop of a South Park episode.”

“But maybe just maybe the jig is up,” she concluded.

RELATED: Rumor: “Nuclear Bomb” Full Of Emails And Notes Detailing Kathleen Kennedy And Lucasfilm Story Group’s “Disgusting” Behavior To Be Released

A rumor from Drunk3PO also indicates that a number of emails and notes about Kathleen Kennedy and the Lucasfilm Story Group are expected to be released in the near future.

The YouTuber shared on Culture Casino’s YouTube channel, “The day is coming. The day is coming and I know the day is coming where there is a lot of emails, there is a lot of notes that someone has collected. And when you see this it will blow your face off as to how disgusting this woman is, Kathleen Kennedy and the people that running Lucasfilm especially over there at the storyboard group.”

“So you guys just got a little taste of what’s to come,” he added.

A little bit later during the stream, he added, “Again, there’s something, there’s a nuclear bomb that’s coming and just be ready. All of our YouTube channels will benefit once this stuff hits.”

YouTuber Price of Reason also alleged back in December 2022 that Kennedy coordinated with Gizmodo writer Germain Lussier to control the narrative around the firing of Gina Carano.

He said, “When Gina Carano was fired I believe Kathleen Kennedy needed to make sure she could distance herself from the firing while also making both harsh and false accusations about Carano that way Carano would be humiliated and canceled by the public, the media, and the entire entertainment industry without it every being directly tied to Kennedy herself.”

“Enter Germain Lussier, who I believe is in Godfather terms Lucasfilm’s very own Luca Brasi,” he asserted. “Furthermore, I believe that Lussier understood exactly what his position was and that he was more than happy to push Lucasfilm’s narrative especially if it would mean they would continue to give him special VIP access to premieres, Star Wars cast and crew interviews, and scoops.”

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He then explained why he believes this, “Sometime after the Gina Carano firing Lussier did a victory lap on a podcast called ATG Cast with Pete Fletzer. In it Germain Lussier boasts that he’s gained access to Star Wars cast and crew due to his special relationship with Lucasfilm.”

After playing a clip of Lussier talking about the access he gained, Price of Reason continues, “Lussier tells the podcast that while breaking the Gina Carano he couldn’t believe that they had actually given him the exclusive and not somebody else.”

Again, after playing another clip of Lussier’s comments, Price of Reason states, “I believe that Lucasfilm gave Lussier the exclusive because they needed more than just a favorable reporter. They needed more than just a shill. They needed a soldier, a so-called reporter who would repeat what Lucasfilm would tell him word for word at push the exact narrative that they would give him with no questions asked.”

(L-R): Cara Dune (Gina Carano), Koska Reeves (Mercedes Varnado) the Mandalorian, (Pedro Pascal), Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen) and Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season two, exclusively on Disney+. © 2020 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

What do you make of this latest report that HBO and Max executives were using troll armies to combat their critics?

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