SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) is taking a closer look at production company Fremantle Media following the recent firings of Gabrielle Union from “America’s Got Talent” and now Orlando Jones from Starz’ “American Gods.” The union had already been investigating the media company over the actress’ exit from the NBC talent competition show, but they have now extended their probe against Fremantle Media to include Jones.
Jones was fired from the show in September as they geared up to go into production for season three, Deadline reports. He starred on the show as “trickster god Anansi, aka Mr. Nancy,” but also wrote and produced on the first season.
Jones claims that his firing was race-related while Fremantle insists that the company simply decided to go in another direction and not extend his contract for a third season due to the narrative focus for the next season.
A spokeswoman for SAG-AFTRA has addressed the extended investigation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “After initial meetings with Gabrielle Union and her representatives about her experiences on America’s Got Talent, and after learning more about Orlando Jones’s experience on American Gods, SAG-AFTRA is expanding its investigation of Fremantle Media,” she said. “Our enforcement actions are handled confidentially to protect the members involved, and we typically do not publicize these matters unless the affected members request that we do so.”
If race was, in fact, the reason for Jones’ firing, it is clear that Fremantle Media would not be forthcoming about that.
Meanwhile, Jones has addressed the situation on SiriusXM’s “The Clay Cane Show.” The actor divulged on the on-set culture, calling the showrunner a “wigga” and a “culture vulture,” who speaks with a “quote unquote blackcent.”
“Culture vulture white guy is running around with a Black Panther t-shirt on talking like you black, acting like you black, thinking you blacker than black people,” said Jones. “You’re playing that whole game, which is the only reason you would run your ass around and say something is crazy as Mr. Nancy’s bad for black America and clearly there’s nobody around to correct you. There’s nobody of color around you who feels they have the guts to say, ‘Hey sir, you probably shouldn’t say that you write from a black male perspective. You’re like a 60 plus year old white man.”
Jones continued, “If you ask anybody about who the season three showrunner is, the two things that they will tell you is that he is a white man and he thinks he’s black. He wears Stay Woke hats and Black Panther t-shirts and sunglasses. Dresses like old school Run DMC type of deal.”
The actor also questioned the way in which he was let go saying that the task was handed to a “wigga” who wanted to replace the “angry black God guy” with a Marilyn Manson-esque God.
“So you got this guy who that’s his behavior, that’s how he presents himself and you guys chose to hand this into this person’s hands because you thought that was a good idea,” he explained. “When he said to you that he wanted to get rid of the Muslim gay character guy, and the angry black God guy, and the new whatever Asian, you need to get rid of her and I don’t care about that Sam black girl character… I want to do a doff metal and I’m going to get like Marilyn Manson, who’s really death metal, do like a God like that, and that’s what he did, and that’s no disrespect to Marilyn Manson. That’s what he did.”
Jones is unsure about his next plan of action, but the actor says whichever move he makes next will be “mindful and thoughtful.” He has not yet decided on if he will take legal action, but Jones says, “I think those have to be thoughtful decisions, and I also think that it’s more important to look at what you want the outcome to be. So, you’ll hear soon enough, it won’t be long.”