Kurt Sutter Details Creative Clashes with Disney Ahead of Firing from FX

‘Sons of Anarchy’ creator Kurt Sutter details a rocky relationship with Disney that he believes ultimately led to his firing from ‘Mayans M.C.’…

Kurt Sutter saw an 18 year relationship with FX come to an end last after he was fired from his own show ‘Mayans M.C.’ while also being let go from any future involvement at FX Networks.

It was a shocking revelation considering Sutter’s longstanding ties with FX that began with his work as a writer on ‘The Shield’ and eventually extended onto his series ‘Sons of Anarchy’, which was the most popular series in the network’s history at that time. Sutter eventually brought two more series to the network with ‘The Bastard Executioner’ and ‘Mayans M.C.’, which was a spinoff of ‘Sons of Anarchy.

He even inked a multi-year extension with 20th Century FOX after the company was preparing to be sold to Disney in 2018.

Then last week the bottom fell out in the relationship with Sutter being fired from his role at ‘Mayans M.C.’ as well as FX Networks. Sutter initially sent a letter to the cast and crew at ‘Mayans M.C.’ to let them know about his exit but he then sent a more detailed letter to those in his inner circle, where he outlined the problems he faced dealing with Disney as soon as the company took over at FX.

“I’ve felt the creative scrutiny of Disney from day one,” Sutter wrote. “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.”

Sutter took responsibility for his behavior that may have angered some of the people on set at ‘Mayans M.C.’ but he disputes the kind of issues that were presented to him ahead of his firing. According to the veteran showrunner, he actually took a step back during ‘Mayans M.C.’ season 2 with plans to hand over the reins to co-creator Elgin James for season 3 — assuming the show gets renewed — but apparently his plan backfired in a major way.

“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,” Sutter said. “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.”

Sutter says what hurt him the most about how this entire situation played out was that he was fired by FX CEO John Landgraf and Dana Walden, who both had championed him many times when they were in charge at FOX. Now under the corporate leadership under Disney, Sutter felt like he was left out to dry and that two people he trusted so much seemingly turned on him.

“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,” Sutter said.
“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.”

Neither FX nor Disney have issued any response to Sutter’s claims after his firing from the network.

Of course while Sutter stuck around to ink a multi-year deal to remain at FOX after the sale to Disney first started, other showrunners opted not to sign extensions out of a fear that they would not be afforded the same kind of freedom under the new bosses. ‘American Horror Story’ creator Ryan Murphy expressed concerns about working for Disney and he ultimately opted to leave the network to ink a massive overall deal to bring his talents to Netflix instead.

It remains to be seen if more showrunners will experience similar issues with Disney going forward or perhaps this really did boil down to a sour relationship between the Mouse House and Sutter.

‘Mayans M.C.’ continues its second season on FX on Tuesday night with no word yet on whether or not the show will return for a third season.

H/T: Deadline

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