It’s been an open question, ever since Disney schlorped up the vast majority of Fox’s TV holdings, how the company’s most aggressively boundary pushing brand, FX, would fare under its new corporate overlords. For the most part, the transition has been relatively quiet—with Disney seeming content to let shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and American Horror Story just sort of do the things that helped bring the network to the forefront of Peak TV in the first place. (Itself a term coined by the network’s TV-savvy chairman, John Landgraf.) Now, though, it’s sounding like the House Of Mouse and the House Of Low-Grade TV Sociopathy have finally had their first big conflict, with Sons Of Anarchy and Mayans M.C. creator Kurt Sutter announcing that he’s been fired from the latter series over being, in his own words, “an abrasive dick.”
Now, this is all a little tricky to tease out, in so far as our only source on the matter—per the Hollywood Reporter—is a letter Sutter himself wrote, apologizing to the show’s cast and crew for the “confusion, chaos, and hostility” that have apparently cropped up on the show’s set of late. Sutter links such confusion (and other behaviors “perceived as abandonment”) to his decision to step back from a more direct role running the show, culminating in an announcement earlier this year that he’d be stepping back from showrunning the motorcycle drama entirely. (Co-creator Elgin James is taking over the position, although it’s not clear yet if the show will be renewed for a third season for James to run.) Sutter also made it abundantly clear that he was fired, specifically by Landgraf and Disney Television Studios chairman Dana Walden.
It’s difficult, reading through Sutter’s letter, to pick out exactly what the complaints against him were; he’s been a cantankerous presence on the network for something like 18 years now, dating back to his time as a staff writer on its first big dramatic hit, The Shield. (Famously, he had a letter censuring him for telling a Fox exec to “crawl the fuck out of my ass” framed, although he later held that that was as a reminder to himself not to let his temper get the best of him.) It’s not clear whether his decision to step further back from the day-to-day production on Mayans was intentionally driven by the move to Disney, but if staff members came to the network with specific complaints about their boss’ behavior, those haven’t been made clear. Per THR, neither FX or Disney, nor Sutter, have responded to requests for comment.
You can read the full text of the letter below:
Dear Team Mayans,
Apparently, Disney HR and Business Affairs has conducted an investigation into the unacceptable conditions that have been created on the set of Mayans in season 2. As you know, I’ve removed myself quite a bit this season, allowing others to take a bigger role in producing the show. It appears that philosophy has backfired. It’s been reported by writers, producers, cast and crew that my absence and subsequent behavior when there, has only created confusion, chaos, hostility and is perceived as abandonment. Or at least that’s how Disney has interpreted it. I’m sure it’s true.
This morning I was fired by Dana Walden and John Landgraf for all the complaints levied against me. Not the way I wanted to end my 18 year relationship with FX. At least being fired for being an abrasive dick is on brand.
I deeply apologize if I’ve made people feel less than or unsupported. My intention was literally the opposite. But clearly I’ve not been paying attention. My arrogance and chronic distraction has created wreckage. Just know, I adore this cast and crew.
I’m not sure what the fate of Mayans MC holds. But if it continues, you’ll still be in good hands. As I said at the premier, Elgin is ready to take on the challenge of running the show. I’m sure FX will get him the support he needs to find and follow his vision.
For those of you who wanted me gone, you win! For those of you who didn’t, you win too. Although I will no longer be involved, I have no doubt the new team will move things forward with the same quality fans have come to expect.
Thank you for the honor of working with all of you.
I don’t need, nor want, replies or condolences. I know where the love is. And for those of you who have it, I’m sure our paths will cross again.
Update: Deadline has acquired a copy of a letter Sutter reportedly sent to some of his closer associates today, outlining in much greater detail his anger at Disney, his sense of being “thrown under the bus,” and outright denials of accusations that he had “created a climate of hostility, favoritism and enabled a set where no one felt safe or appreciated.” “Clearly I ruffled a few mouse ears,” he notes, while discussing his efforts to step back from Mayans, and his sense of the network’s cultural culture changing since “day one” of the Disney hand over.