FX fired Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter on Thursday, and two letters by the writer/producer have provided a window into the process that led to him leaving the network after almost 18 years. In one letter, Sutter said he received several reports on "tension" on the set of his ongoing show, the SOA spin-off Mayans M.C. The show is in the middle of its second season, and Sutter was already transitioning creative control to co-creator Elgin James at the time he was fired.
Sources told The Hollywood Reporter there were "multiple complaints" about Sutter's behavior on the Mayans M.C. set. FX CEO John Landgraf and Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment chairman Dana Walden decided to fire him Wednesday and Sutter sent a letter to the cast on Thursday. Sutter's overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television is reportedly not affected.
Aside from the letter sent to the Mayans M.C. cast and crew obtained by THR, Deadline also published a letter Sutter sent to his inside circle.
In the second letter, Sutter said Disney's decision to fire him "was apparently based on data collected by HR and Business Affairs from writers, producers, cast and crew," adding, "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."
Sutter said the mistake he made was "detaching myself so much this season," which he believes might have made people feel "like no one was steering the ship." He refused to believe this was a "management error" because he was making a creative decision to let James run the show. Sutter claims he was "forced" to hire a directing executive producer. This allowed him to focus on the story, writing and post-production while James and the others focused on day-to-day operations.
At first, things were going well, but partway through filming, Sutter began to receive reports of "tension" on set.
"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," Sutter wrote. "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 went on to write that he felt the "creative scrutiny" of Disney from the moment they stepped in after buying 20th Century Fox. They gave him "heavy-handed" notes and demanded a "level of dumbing-down story and inane PC restraints like I've never experienced before," Sutter wrote. Sutter said he pushed back, which "ruffled a few mouse ears."
In the end, Sutter said he was angry at Walden and Landgraf for blaming his firing on the cast and crew, adding he was thrown "under the f– bus."
"I send this diatribe because I feel deeply wronged. They embarrassed me," he wrote. "They created a false narrative that could damage my reputation and career. I want them to understand the depth of that mistake."
Sutter has been working at FX since joining The Shield as a writer in 2002. He created Sons of Anarchy, which ran from 2008 to 2014, and the 2015 series The Bastard Executioner for the network.0comments
Mayans M.C. airs Tuesdays on FX at 9 p.m. ET.
Photo credit: Getty Images