The chief executive of HBO has apologised to TV critics after fake Twitter accounts were used to respond to negative reviews of shows on his television network.
Casey Bloys, who is also the chief executive of the Max network, has admitted coming up with the "dumb idea" after Rolling Stone published a story detailing a lawsuit brought against him and HBO by former employee Sully Temori.
Mr Temori alleges to have been wrongfully terminated in a separate matter to his claim he was asked to set up a fake account on Twitter, now known as X.
In alleged text messages sent in 2020 and 2021, which are being prepared as evidence in Mr Temori's case, Mr Bloys and Kathleen McCaffrey, HBO's senior vice president of drama programming, repeatedly discussed using fake Twitter accounts to reply to critics who spoke negatively about HBO shows, including Perry Mason and Mare of Easttown.
Rolling Stone reports that the text messages, provided by Mr Temori, were reviewed and verified via their metadata.
Mr Temori, who was an executive assistant at the time of the messages, claims he was instructed to make an account on Twitter to reply to negative reviews from critics.
He created such an account and attributed it to a fake woman called Kelly Shepard, a self-described vegan mum from Texas.
Mr Temori has also said he left anonymous comments on some articles on the entertainment website Deadline in response to other users' negative remarks about HBO shows.
He said Mr Bloys, a respected media executive who is credited for shows including The White Lotus and Succession, asked him to leave the comments.
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Mr Bloys also instructed other members of staff to create accounts to reply to anonymous Deadline comments in July 2020, according to the texts.
Speaking at an event in New York to promote HBO and Max's upcoming programmes, which was attended by some of the critics who were mentioned in the texts, Mr Bloys said he was "very very passionate" about his network's programmes and came up with a "very dumb idea to vent my frustration".
He added that six tweets were posted in response to TV critics over a period of a year and a half.
"But I do apologise to the people who were mentioned in the leaked emails, texts," he said.
Ms Temori's wrongful termination lawsuit centres around his claim he was harassed and faced retaliation and discrimination after disclosing a mental health diagnosis to his bosses.