In case you’re coming in late, the Starz TV series ‘American Gods’ fired Mr. Nancy actor, writer, and producer Orlando Jones on September 10th of this year. The series also did not pick up the options of two other actors of color, Mousa Kraish, who played the Jinn, and Omid Abtahi who played Salim. In addition to being of Middle Eastern origin, the actors portrayed gay lovers on the series. Kraish has since confirmed his termination, although he stated that he would gladly return if the writers and producers wanted him back.
On the other hand, Jones released a scathing video over the weekend in which he raked the entire production, particularly new showrunner Charles “Chic” Eglee, over the coals. Jones also took aim at Starz and production studio Fremantle.
Fremantle released a statement denying that Jones was fired for any reason other than the fact that Eglee and the show were going to focus on other characters in Season 3.
RELATED: Orlando Jones Details The Turmoil Behind The Scenes Of “American Gods’ Leading Up To His Dismissal
In a follow-up interview with Deadline, Jones states that he is considering legal action over the way his termination was handled. Fremantle states that Jones wasn’t fired, but that they did not pick up their option on him, to which Jones replied:
“If that is true then why didn’t you tell me that in April, May, June, July or August when we were reaching out to you to get an understanding for what was going to happen with Season 3 and then summarily call me on September 10 to say that, one. Two, why do I not have in my hand a release letter, because when your option isn’t renewed with the studio that’s what they send you to let you know that so that you can go get other work. Where is that letter that is in my contract that you have to give me? You can’t just notify me by phone call. No contract works that way because other people want to make sure that they’re not infringing on Starz’s rights by looking to employ me as a series regular if I’m contracted elsewhere and they’re holding exclusivity.
“Three, why did you make a deal for three years if in fact it was a different creative direction and you know that’s what you were going to do then shouldn’t you have made a two-year deal with me as opposed to a three-year deal with me.
“Lastly, they were in contact with my manager all throughout those months and the conversation was clear. It was about renegotiating my acting contract, bringing me on as a writer as I was in Season 2, but that was retroactively and bringing me on as a producer as opposed to a consulting producer as I was in Season 2, fixing all those problems. The studio and the network all said those things and they all were clear that I would be writing Mr. Nancy and I would be producing on the show because that was part of the reason I did the insane amount of work that I did in Season 2 because they paid a lot of other people to do the work that I was doing but they were all sitting at home.”
Fremantle followed up their original statement with another made exclusively to Inverse:
“We stand by our original statement around the ever evolving storylines and characters that weave in and out of American Gods. While we greatly appreciate Mr. Jones’ contributions to Seasons 1 and 2, we are disappointed he feels the need to make inaccurate accusations regarding the non-renewal of his contract. Our efforts are focused on Season 3 and working with our amazing cast, crew and creators.”
Season 1 of ‘American Gods’ arrived with no reports of tension behind the scenes and was enthusiastically received for a variety of reasons, but Jones’ guest-appearance as Mr. Nancy was dazzling. Check out his transcendent introductory monologue below:
In addition, the Middle Eastern and LGBTQ audiences embraced the depictions of Salim and the Jinn. Overall, ‘American Gods’ was very diverse. But trouble erupted behind the scenes, as the show’s creators and showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green were fired and replaced by Jesse Alexander for Season 2, but he proved not to be the right fit as it was reported that he was sidelined and his input was not accepted in both the writing and editing. Eglee was hired to replace him for Season 3.
Fuller and Green were allegedly fired over budgetary concerns, as Starz and Fremantle wanted to spend less per episode for Season 2, but in all the turmoil, it is believed that they wound up spending a lot more just to get the shows made. Jones wound up writing not just Mr. Nancy, but most of the “disenfranchised” characters including Laura Moon and Bilquist. The show made Jones a producer because of all the work he was doing, which they didn’t want to pay him for.
Through it all, Neil Gaiman, the author of the book on which this series is based, attempted to downplay the drama, but that’s out the window now.
‘American Gods’ has been a disaster for some time now, and it’s just boiling over at this point. Season 2 was already not well-received by critics and viewers. Now, with the loss of Jones, Abtahi, and Kraish, not to mention Mad Sweeney, played by Pablo Schreiber, many viewers have already decided to abandon the show before Season 3.
If there are any further developments in this dumpster fire, we’ll be here to deliver the news!