Kurt Sutter Blames Disney Oversight for His ‘Mayans MC’ Firing: ‘The Suits Wanted Me Gone’

“I stepped on toes and bruised egos. And in this Disney regime, I’m dangerous to the wholesome brand,” co-showrunner explains

Last Updated: October 18, 2019 @ 8:19 AM

“Mayans M.C.” co-creator Kurt Sutter is blaming Disney executives for his exit from the FX drama, saying that he was fired because he “stepped on toes and bruised egos” in dealing with his new corporate bosses.

Sutter’s explanation came in a note to friends and associates on Thursday, according to Deadline, just hours after news broke that he had been fired following multiple complaints about his behavior from “Mayans” cast and crew. In the note, Sutter acknowledged that some of the complaints were merited, but “that’s not why I was fired.”

“The truth is, the suits wanted me gone,” Sutter wrote, assigning blame to executives at Disney whom he clashed with while operating as co-showrunner on the “Sons of Anarchy” spinoff. “I stepped on toes and bruised egos. And in this Disney regime, I’m dangerous to the wholesome brand. And clearly not worth the trouble.”

Representatives for FX and Disney declined to comment. Reps for Sutter did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.

Sutter, who has previously spoken about the pushback he’s received from executives regarding the content of his shows, said he came under an even higher level of “creative scrutiny” since his show came under the Disney umbrella.

“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,” he wrote. “I genuinely feared for the creative future of the storytelling. So I pushed back. Hard.”

Sutter first announced his exit in a memo to staff on Wednesday, saying that he was notified of his termination by Disney TV boss Dana Walden and FX president John Landgraf. In his follow-up letter Thursday, he wrote that he was “hurt” that the two executives cited “a summary of a slanted truth formulated by lawyers and clerks” in the process. “They blamed my dismissal on the cast and crew.”

Later on Thursday, Sutter tweeted: “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, motherf–ers.” The tweet appeared with a photo of a casting call for “Vocalists for the Festival of the Lion King” at Walt Disney World.

Sutter has been at FX since starting as a staff writer on “The Shield” in 2002. He went on to create “Sons of Anarchy” and “The Bastard Executioner” for the network, before co-creating “Mayans” with Elgin James in 2018. He had already announced plans to step down at the end of the current season, handing over full day-to-day control to James for Season 3.

“18 years of friendship, loyalty and producing quality television, was flushed down the drain. They threw me under the fucking bus,” he wrote, later going on to say that he felt “deeply wronged” by the move.

“They embarrassed me,” he concluded. “They created a false narrative that could damage my reputation and career. I want them to understand the depth of that mistake.”

Read Sutter’s letter below.

The big picture. If anyone cares.
Thanks for taking a look.

Let me begin by saying, I know who I am. I know the impact of my process. I’m intense and passionate. I take what I do very seriously. That’s what having a vision manifests. And if you fuck with that vision, I’m gonna push back. When I’m right, I let the work speak for itself. When I’m wrong, I own it, make amends and fix it.

I pride myself on having a supportive and empowering set. I try to acknowledge all the hard work everyone does. I’m clear that it’s a collaborative effort. And I try to pass that philosophy down to my writers and producers so they do the same.

Disney letting me go today was apparently based on data collected by HR and Business Affairs from writers, producers, cast and crew. They claim the intel suggests that I created a climate of hostility, favoritism and enabled a set where no one felt safe or appreciated. I know that’s not true. I’m not saying it was all sunshine and roses, but I’m close with most of those guys and they love going to work. I’m also not sure how, having been on set… maybe three times all season, I was able to singularly create that much damage.

What I do own, what I see now in hindsight, is that detaching myself so much this season was a mistake. I understand how it was perceived as me sticking my head in the sand. And that people felt like no one was steering the ship. But that wasn’t a management error on my part, it was a creative decision to empower Elgin and the future of the show. The reason I decided to do it, was because the network forced me to hire a directing EP to run the production end. So I did. He came in with a lot of experience and his enthusiasm gave me confidence he could do the job. So, with Elgin, the new EP in place, and with Jon Pare our great line producer, I stayed focused on story, writing and post.

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.

I know my role at Mayans MC was going to be greatly reduced. I am handing off the show to Elgin. So it’s not the job that’s the issue.

What pisses me off, what hurts the most, is that John Landgraf and Dana Walden sat across from me and sited a summary of a slanted truth formulated by lawyers and clerks. They blamed my dismissal on the cast and crew.

People I care about. People I respect. They had no first hand knowledge of anything they were saying. They’ve never been on set or spoken to any of my people. I’m not saying all of the intel was bullshit. But I know that’s not why I was fired. The truth is, the suits wanted me gone. I stepped on toes and bruised egos. And in this Disney regime, I’m dangerous to the wholesome brand. And clearly not worth the trouble. So 18 years of friendship, loyalty and producing quality television, was flushed down the drain. They threw me under the fucking bus.

I send this diatribe because I feel deeply wronged. They embarrassed me. They created a false narrative that could damage my reputation and career. I want them to understand the depth of that mistake.

Talk soon.

Thanks.

ks

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