Discover more from TV Tattle
HBO boss allegedly had TV critics trolled with secret accounts / She-Hulk reportedly cost $25 million an episode / Mean Girls reunite for Black Friday ad
PLUS: Inside Marvel's Jonathan Majors crisis.
HBO boss Casey Bloys allegedly ordered staffers to create fake Twitter accounts to troll TV critics
Casey Bloys, who oversees HBO and Max, apparently didn't like Vulture TV critic Kathryn VanArendonk subtweeting her disdain for Perry Mason in June 2020. So, according to text messages reviewed by Rolling Stone, he told Kathleen McCaffrey, HBO’s senior vice president of drama programming: “Maybe a Twitter user should tweet that that’s a pretty blithe response to what soldiers legitimately go through on (the) battlefield. Do you have a secret handle? Couldn’t we say especially given that it’s D-Day to dismiss a soldier’s experience like that seems pretty disrespectful … this must be answered!” Bloys added that they needed to find a “mole” at “arms length” from the HBO executive team. “We just need a random to make the point and make her feel bad," he wrote. According to Rolling Stone's Cheyenne Roundtree, "the exchange was one of at least six instances between June 2020 and April 2021 in which Bloys and McCaffrey discussed using 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. In this case, the two decided not to hit back at VanArendonk online. But in numerous instances, the HBO execs did just that, trolling the television critics with snarky responses from a fake Twitter account — and dropping pro-HBO comments on trade publication stories." Roundtree asked HBO for comment, and notes that "HBO did not dispute the legitimacy of the messages when approached for comment by Rolling Stone. In a statement, an HBO spokesperson said it would not 'comment on select exchanges between programmers and errant tweets.' VanArendonk confirmed she wrote the tweet but declined to comment further." After the article was published, VanArendonk tweeted: "i honestly cannot emphasize enough how hard i am laughing." Roundtree adds: "Rolling Stone reviewed the metadata associated with the messages, and verified their authenticity by linking the sender of the messages to a phone number registered to McCaffrey. What’s more, in four of the six cases, the language of the texts is an exact match for the language from the anonymous accounts." The messages come from a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed in July by former HBO and The Idol staffer Sully Temori against HBO, alleging he was harassed and faced retaliation and discrimination after disclosing a mental health diagnosis to his bosses.
She-Hulk reportedly cost $25 million per episode, with "half-baked scripts" leading to bad VFX
Variety reporter Tatiana Siegel's exposé into Marvel's problems delves into the studio's well-known issues with VFX. Marvel’s VFX troubles resulted in the March firing of Victoria Alonso, who oversaw the studio’s physical production, postproduction, VFX and animation. "While the reason cited for her abrupt firing was her unauthorized role as an executive producer on the Oscar-nominated film Argentina, 1985, insiders say Disney was incensed that quality control on its Marvel productions was plummeting, particularly on the ever-expanding TV front," reports Alonso. "The VFX logjam had been evident for some time, with some final effects for such Disney+ series as WandaVision and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law inserted after their streaming debuts. That Alonso was busy promoting her art-house project while Rome burned certainly didn’t sit well with Disney’s leadership. (Alonso’s attorney says her client is unable to comment.) But some internal sources suggest Alonso was a scapegoat and point to the She-Hulk VFX issues as a symptom of a deeper rot — namely a lack of oversight on script development. In the original arc of She-Hulk, a flashback of star Tatiana Maslany’s transformation into her Hulk character didn’t take place until Episode 8, the penultimate episode. But after Marvel’s brain trust watched footage, it realized the scene needed to happen in the pilot episode so that audiences could see more of the character’s backstory early. That meant that the VFX team was tasked with fixing the mess in postproduction." As one person involved with She-Hulk tells Siegel: "The so-called bad VFX we see was because of half-baked scripts. That is not Victoria. That is (Marvel boss Kevin Feige). And even above Kevin. Those issues should be addressed in preproduction. The timeline is not allowing the Marvel executives to sit with the material.” Siegel adds: "All the while, Marvel was bleeding money, with a single episode of She-Hulk costing some $25 million, dwarfing the budget of a final-season episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones, but without a similar Zeitgeist bang."
Report: CAA dropped Jonathan Majors for his "brutal conduct" toward staff before his domestic violence arrest
Variety delves into the crisis Marvel has been having with Majors, who is currently appearing on Loki Season 2. According to Variety's Tatiana Siegel, CAA parted ways with Majors over his "brutal conduct" toward staff before his domestic violence arrest. Majors landed at WME. "A studio source notes that regardless of the actor’s legal issues, Marvel already had considered moving away from a Majors-led phase because of the box office performance of Quantumania, which will struggle to make a profit," reports Siegel, adding: "Recasting Majors is also an option, as (Marvel boss Kevin) Feige did when he replaced Terrence Howard in Iron Man 2 with Don Cheadle. In fact, Marvel isn’t afraid to change direction, even after making splashy announcements. Armor Wars was first unveiled as a series and is now being developed as a feature, while the studio’s push to adapt the comic book Inhumans into a feature film generated headlines but is now dormant. (The now-defunct Marvel Television mounted an Inhumans TV series in 2017 that ran for one season on ABC.)” ALSO: Marvel’s Jonathan Majors problem is expected to get even bigger with Loki’s Season 2 finale.
The Crown's final season will reportedly repeat claims Pregnant Diana was pregnant when she died
The Sun reports the sixth and final season will repeat the late Harrods boss Mohamed Fayed that Diana was pregnant when she and his son Dodi Fayed were killed in a car crash 2007. "In the Netflix series, Fayed (played by Salim Daw) will be heard claiming the crash was the result of an establishment plot to kill Diana (Elizabeth Debicki) to stop her marrying Dodi," says The Sun, adding that the claim will likely enrage Prince William.
Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes are reteaming for a podcast nearly a year after their ABC News ouster
The former GMA3 co-anchors, who were fired in January after their off-camera affair was revealed, hare teaming for the podcast Amy & T.J. Premiering Dec. 5 on the iHeartPodcast Network, the podcast will allow them to tell their story while also discussing the news of the day.
Mean Girls cast reunites for a Walmart Black Friday ad
When Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Seyfried and Lacey Chabert reunited last month to film a commercial, Page Six reported it was for Pepsi and that it might be a Super Bowl ad. Turns out the former Mean Girls stars (sans Rachel McAdams) teamed up for a Walmart Black Friday ad that is essentially a sequel to their iconic 2004 high school movie.
Friends co-creators say Matthew Perry was sober when they last spoke to him two weeks ago
“It was great. He was happy and chipper. He didn’t seem weighed down by anything. He was in a really good place, which is why this seems so unfair," Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman said in a joint appearance on Today with fellow co-creator David Crane. When she first heard the news, Kauffman said: “My first impulse was to text him, honestly. It’s hard to grasp: one minute he’s here and he’s happy, and then poof. And doing good in the world, really doing good in the world.” ALSO: Kauffman recalled being "concerned" about Perry at the 2021 taping of Friends: The Reunion.
Nate Bargatze's SNL episode was the most-watched since last December
The Halloween episode hosted by Bargatze attracted 4.9 million viewers, slightly more the 4.8 million that watched fellow comedian Pete Davidson's season premiere.
Alex Trebek's loved ones establish The Alex Trebek Fund to support research and resources for treating pancreatic cancer
With the third anniversary of the late Jeopardy! host's death approaching next week, Trebek's loved ones are teaming with Stand Up to Cancer to launch a cancer research foundation in his name.
Netflix confirms it will reward ad tier binge-watchers with fewer ads
“After watching three consecutive episodes, members will be presented with a fourth episode ad-free," Netflix announced this morning. The news comes as Netflix marks one year of its ad tier. ALSO: Netflix's ad tier now has 15 million active users.
Netflix is ready to offer "title sponsorships" for some of its shows
The streamer plans to offer sponsorships that can be tied to a specific title, a thematic moment or a live stream, such as Smartfood popcorn snack becoming a sponsor of Love Is Blind. Netflix has also signed sponsors for the reality series Squid Game: The Challenge as well as the final season of The Crown. ALSO: Netflix's ad tier now has 15 million active users.
AI Seinfeld is still alive
404Media's Jason Koebler recently wrote that Nothing, Forever, the artificial intelligence takeoff of Seinfeld, "is very broken, stuck on a short, repeating loop for days." But as Mashable's Meera Navlakha reports: "The show appears to have resumed, finding a flow and somewhat of a plot again. The Twitch channel has very few viewers though, oscillating between 40 and 70 people at most given times."
Fran Drescher thanks SNL for Halloween costume spoof mocking her
Sarah Sherman played the SAG-AFTRA president in the sketch sending up the union's much-criticized Halloween costume policy. "Happy Halloween! Did you catch the President Drescher skit on SNL? Gr8 timing and strike supportive. Ty SNL," Drescher wrote on Instagram.
General Hospital’s Tyler Christopher honored by soap stars
Read tributes to the late General Hospital alum, who died Tuesday at age 50. Kelly Thiebaud, who played a love interest for Christopher's Nikolas Cassadine on General Hospital, wrote of her former scene partner: “I was lucky enough to get partnered up with some wonderful leading men on General Hospital, Tyler was one of them. I learned so much about working on a Soap during that time together. He was a great scene partner and was always kind to me. I remember feeling anxiously excited to get to work with such a legend on the show. Before getting on GH, I would sometimes watch the show and my favorite couple was Nikolas and Emily, so you can imagine how excited I was when we got paired up.”
Comedy Central Stand-Up Featuring sets its Season 14 lineup
Grace Kuhlenschmidt, who recently appeared on The Daily Show, will be featured alongside Randall Otis, Welcome to Flatch's Holmes, Tommy Brennan, Ayanna Dookie, Sam Morrison, Usama Siddiquee, Ethan Simmons-Patterson, Kate Sisk, Mark Smalls, Chinedu Unaka, Mav Viola, Asha Ward, Eagle Witt and Lucas Zelnick. Comedy Central Stand-Up Featuring premieres today on YouTube and Facebook.
Watch the trailer for HBO's Daniel Radcliffe-produced documentary David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived
Radcliffe appears in the documentary in which his stunt double David Holmes, who was paralyzed filming a scene for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, tells his story. Radcliffe and Holmes grew close during their time working on the Harry Potter movies. David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived premieres Nov. 15.