Kurt Sutter’s firing by FX (which cited Disney HR complaints from cast and crew) from Mayans M.C. — the second installment in his Sons of Anarchy universe — continues to reverberate, as expected. This went down pretty quickly this week, more than a month after The Shield writer, director, and producer announced that he’d step down as Mayans co-showrunner (fully handing the baton to Elgin James) following the biker drama’s second season. However, Sutter did clarify that he planned to stick around to produce, so his firing came as a shock, even if his description of himself (in a letter to cast and crew) as an “abrasive dick,” well, did not. That was pure Sutter, as was his telling Instagram post of a Mickey Mouse ferris wheel and this caption: “The happiest place on earth…”
Sutter had more to say about Disney, including to his Twitter followers. “Thanks for all the love and support,” he wrote while joking that he’s auditioning for a Lion King festival. “I’ve been vocalizing all day. So ready to nail this audition and start my next gig. Hakuna matata, motherfuckers.”
Thanks for all the love and support. I’ve been vocalizing all day. So ready to nail this audition and start my next gig. Hakuna matata, motherfuckers. pic.twitter.com/6P1u3zQdtP
— kurt sutter (@sutterink) October 18, 2019
In addition, Deadline has acquired a letter that Sutter reportedly sent to his inner circle, to whom he revealed that he felt stifled in the immediate aftermath of Disney’s takeover of FX as part of the 20th Century Fox TV umbrella. Sutter then concedes that there were indeed HR complaints about on-set tension during the making of Mayans. He also admits that removing himself so much from the Mayans ship this season “was a mistake,” even though he only meant to “empower Elgin” James. Here’s an excerpt:
Never did I think the ship was off course until after mid season when I suddenly was bombarded with unfavorable reports about the tension on set. I am not going to mention names, because I don’t want to point fingers. So yes, there were complaints. And ultimately whomever they are about lands on me to fix. That’s when I contacted the network to let them know. They told me they’d look into it. And to sit tight. So I did.
Who I have been hard on this season is the studio and network. I’ve felt the creative scrutiny of Disney from day one. Notes on scripts and cuts have been heavy handed. Demanding a level of dumbing-down story and inane PC restraints like I’ve never experienced before. I genuinely feared for the creative future of the storytelling. So I pushed back.Hard. No different than I have in the past. In fact, much tamer than I ever was on SOA. However, I was dealing with personnel who didn’t know me. And my level of … passion. Clearly I ruffled a few mouse ears.
The SOA universe creator then argues that he was offloaded because his ongoing presence would be “dangerous to the wholesome brand” of Disney, and he feels “deeply wronged” and “embarrassed” by the “false narrative” that he claims was supported by his longtime executive collaborators, Disney TV Studios Chairman Dana Walden and FX Networks Chairman John Landgraf. This has led to Sutter’s firing after 18 years at FX, although his overall deal with 20th Century Fox TV still stands, at least for now.