In December, Orlando Jones took to social media to announce that he'd been fired from Starz's American Gods. Jones claimed that the firing was the result of incoming showrunner Charles "Chic" Eglee being uncomfortable with the approach Jones took to race in playing and writing for his character, Mr. Nancy. The response from Fremantle, the production company behind the series, defended Eglee. In the statement, Fremantle said that Jones' contract had not been renewed because the television series has reached the point where it is adapting a portion of the source material, Neil Gaiman's 2001 novel of the same name, during which Mr. Nancy has no role to play.
Starz president and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch backed this claim in a statement made during the network's Television Critics Association winter press tour presentation on Tuesday. He called Gaiman's novel incredibly dense and said that "Chic and the team decided to be in an area where Mr. Nancy didn't play a prominent role." He went on to call Jones "a tremendous talent and a really great person" and noted that American Gods is "one of the most diverse shows on television" (via Variety).
In the video Jones posted to Twitter in December, he told fans "There will be no more Mr. Nancy. Don't let these motherf****** tell you they love Mr. Nancy. They don't. I'm not going to name names, but the new Season Three showrunner is Connecticut-born and Yale-educated, so he's very smart. And he thinks that Mr. Nancy's angry, get s*** done is the wrong message for black America. That's right, this white man sits in that decision-making chair and I'm sure he has many black BFFs who are his advisors who made it clear to him that if they did not get rid of that angry god Mr. Nancy he'd start a Denmark Vesey uprising in this country. I mean, what else could it be?"
Fremantle's original response stated, "The storylines of American Gods have continually shifted and evolved to reflect the complex mythology of the source material. Mr. Jones' option was not picked up because Mr. Nancy, among other characters, is not featured in the portion of the book we are focusing on within Season 3. Several new characters, many of which have already been announced, will be introduced into Shadow Moon's world that will further contribute to the show's legacy as one of the most diverse series on television."
Jones' firing is now under investigation by the Actor's Guild. Starz and Freemantle plan to continue filming the third season of American Gods unabated.