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Kurt Sutter Wrote Anti-Disney Jokes Into ‘Mayans M.C.’ to Protest Disney-Fox Merger

Sutter tells Deadline the controversial jokes were the inciting incident that led him to getting fired from his FX original drama series.

Kurt Sutter

Kurt Sutter

Buchan/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Over a week after being fired from his FX drama series “Mayans M.C.,” creator Kurt Sutter has given a wide-ranging interview with Deadline in which he traces the root of his firing to a controversial joke he wrote into the “Mayans MC” second season premiere. The joke targeted Disney, which Sutter alleges began meddling with his show’s production following the Disney-Fox merger earlier this year. According to Sutter, “Bottom line, I created the circumstances that led to my being forced out. I overestimated my value and underestimated the unfuckability of [Disney].”

“Here’s what I did wrong on the studio network side, the reason why I had to go away. It all started with a joke. And not a very good one,” Sutter said. “There was a line in the Season 2 premiere. EZ (JD Pardo) and Coco (Richard Cabral) were getting off the bus at the school where the drugs were being processed. There was supposed to be a really gnarly playground out front. Filled with debris, dangerous looking swings, sharp objects, rusty jungle gym, etc. As they exited, Coco sees EZ’s distracted and says: ‘Lighten up Boy Scout,’ and gesturing to the playground, says, ‘We’re going to Disneyland.’ EZ replies: ‘Yeah? Guess this is where Walt buried all the Jews he had killed.’ Coco comments: ‘That’s dark man.’ And exits.”

Sutter said he knew the Disney joke would “ring some bells,” but he wanted to make it because he was “already experiencing the tightening of the noose” that came with Disney now owning the show’s parent company Fox. Sutter claims the merger was “manifesting in production issues, creating more hurdles, etc.”

“When dealing with new restrictions often implemented by a change in personnel, it’s best to respond by lobbing a grenade,” Sutter said of the Disney-Fox merger. “Yes, it stuns people, challenges their authority, often involves a call from a lawyer. But the result is usually a slowing down of the restrictive thrust. Breathing room. It forces people to really think about the demand they are making and why they are making it. Is it really necessary? It at least stops the most inane notes from reaching my desk.”

The studio reached out to Sutter demanding he remove the Disney-Jew joke from the script. Sutter agreed, but he didn’t scrap the bit entirely. The writer swapped one critical Disney joke for another, adding a new line in which EZ says, “Yeah…if Mickey and Pluto were pedophiles.” Sutter called the change a “fuck you” to Disney and maintained that he wanted to have an anti-Disney joke in the script because of the “red flags on the production end” that developed after the Disney-Fox merger. Sutter alleges Disney pushback continued throughout the season.

“Although dealing with most of the same personnel from Season 1, there was a new layer of…anxiety I guess,” Sutter said. “Executives second guessing story in a way they didn’t on Season 1 and ‘Sons of Anarchy.’ Whether the heightened creative scrutiny was real, or me projecting my own fear – probably a mix of both – my patience grew thinner and thinner. And by the end of the season, I went rogue. Turning in scripts too late to allow notes to be addressed.”

Sutter says it was his retaliation against Disney’s alleged production interference that led him to getting fired. IndieWire has reached out to FX for further comment. “Mayans M.C.” is currently airing its second season on FX, and the show wraps its current run November 5.

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