The Deadline showbiz website reports that big changes may be in store for the popular Taylor Sheridan series.
Is this the end of John Dutton’s dominion of Yellowstone?
Maybe. According to the respected Deadline showbiz website, serious discussions are underway regarding what if any future Kevin Costner has on the phenomenally popular Paramount Network series that is the crown jewel of the Taylor Sheridan Universe.
Deadline reports that Sheridan, co-creator and showrunner of the drama, Paramount Global and Paramount Network “are moving to end their signature show in its current form. But they are plotting a potential franchise extension to continue the Dutton saga, a new show with Matthew McConaughey in talks to star.
“It is unclear which of the Yellowstone cast will move over to the McConaughey-led series, but it is expected to include several of the big stars.”
The response from Paramount? Kind of a non-denial denial.
“We have no news to report,” a Paramount Network spokesperson told Deadline. “Kevin Costner is a big part of Yellowstone and we hope that’s the case for a long time to come. Thanks to the brilliant mind of Taylor Sheridan, we are always working on franchise expansions of this incredible world he has built. Matthew McConaughey is a phenomenal talent with whom we’d love to partner.”
Which isn’t exactly saying, “Kevin, don’t let the door hit you on the butt on the way out.” But, you have to admit, it isn’t a full-throated roar of support, either.
Apparently, the entire imbroglio stems from time, not money. Costner — who recently won a Golden Globe award for his series lead performance as John Dutton — only wants to spend a week shooting episodes for the second half of the show’s current fifth season, because he’s tied up with directing and starring in Horizon, his multi-part Western epic. (That passion project, it should be noted, has Costner partnered with Warner Bros. and New Line.) But so far, Deadline reports, “Paramount Network has declined Costner’s most recent proposal and instead has made the decision to move on to the other show, sources said.”
How will this all shake out? Well, consider this: Costner is undeniably the main attraction for many if not most of the millions who watch Yellowstone. Over the years, however, other members of the cast — Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Gil Birmingham and Mo Brings Plenty, among others — have attracted ardent fans of their own. More important, up until the midseason finale episode that aired Jan. 1, the current run of Yellowstone certainly seemed to be building toward a blood-and-thnder climactic confrontation that would result in a body count of some sort. Given that the remaining Season 5 episodes have yet to be filmed, Sheridan has plenty of time to decide just whose bodies will get counted.
Consider the possibilities. Costner could work out an agreement with Sheridan and Paramount, Dutton and the other characters remain alive and reasonably well, and we’re on our way to Season 6. Or Dutton meets an untimely demise, and everyone else is left to pick up the pieces. Or Dutton, Jamie (Bentley) and Beth (Reilly) wind up biting the dust — and a character played by Matthew McConaughey swoops in to claim the Yellowstone Ranch? Maybe that character could be the son or brother that Dutton never knew he had?
Another factor to consider: Sheridan already has enjoyed success with two Yellowstone prequels, the highly acclaimed 1883 and the currently running 1923. He has at least two spinoff series, 6666 and 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, in the works, with more rumored to come. And he also has other freestanding Paramount+ series — The Mayor of Kingstown (which may be facing production problems of its own due to the recent injuries suffered by Jeremy Renner), Tulsa King, and the upcoming Lioness and Land Man. He — and Paramount — might feel a revised and recast version of Yellowstone could easily fill the void left by the departure of the original mothership.
But how would viewers feel about such a dramatic disruption in the Taylor Sheridan Universe? Especially if, unlike the current Yellowstone, the replacement series is available only on Paramount+?
Stay tuned for further developments.