EXCLUSIVE: Yellowstone, TV’s top-rated drama, may end in spectacular fashion.
Deadline understands that Taylor Sheridan, co-creator and showrunner, 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.
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“We have no news to report. 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,” a Paramount Network spokesperson told Deadline.
The crux of the issue with the original Yellowstone series involves star Kevin Costner and disagreements over shooting schedules.
Sources tell Deadline that Costner, who had originally limited himself to 65 days of shooting on Yellowstone, only wanted to shoot for 50 days for the first part of the current season.
But for the second batch of episodes of the current, fifth season of Yellowstone, the actor, who just won best television actor in a drama series at the Golden Globes, only wanted to spend a week shooting.
Costner is directing and starring in his multi-part western epic Horizon, which he co-wrote with Jon Baird that landed at Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line.
Given that Costner plays John Dutton, the patriarch of the Dutton clan, this has been a source of frustration for Sheridan and it is understood to be causing morale problems for the other stars of the show, which includes Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille and Gil Birmingham.
We are told Paramount Network has declined Costner’s most recent proposal and instead has made the decision to move on to the other show, sources said.
What all parties are now wrangling is a Yellowstone franchise extension that Sheridan will write with McConaughey as the star. The True Detective star is currently in negotiations.
Because of the wild success of the prequel series 1883, 1923 and expectations on upcoming Sheridan shows, the studio has more flexibility and isn’t as dependent on Yellowstone as was the case two years ago.
The new show will start on the linear cable channel Paramount Network and then stream exclusively on Paramount+.
It isn’t clear at present whether the McConaughey-fronted franchise extension will be set on the Dutton ranch in Montana or elsewhere. But the new project is way more than just talk, borne out of the continued disagreements over the lessening amount time Costner is willing to spend shooting the series.
Costner’s John Dutton character has weathered hitmen, as seen at the end of season three when the whole family was attacked, and scrupulous real estate developers attempting to wrest control of the sprawling Montana-based Dutton Ranch away from him. It would be ironic that the thing that likely will pry loose the character from his beloved spread is the actor playing him, and an inability to come to agreement on time commitment.
We’re hearing that it’s quite possible that Yellowstone will end with the second half of the current season, which aired its eighth episode at the beginning of January and is set to return in the summer.
Sheridan already has a busy dance card for the Yellowstone extended universe.
Prequel limited series 1883, which starred Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Sam Elliott, premiered in December 2021 and told the story of how the Duttons came to own the land that became the Yellowstone ranch.
1923, which stars Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford, premiered in December 2022 and is set for a second and final season, taking in the time of Western expansion, prohibition and the Great Depression.
As Deadline scooped last October, also on the drawing board are two separate limited series that encompass the struggle to hang onto the ranch in the 1940s and the 1960s.
Also under the Taylor Sheridan universe, there’s the series Bass Reeves currently shooting, starring David Oyelowo as the titular character, the first Black deputy U.S. marshal. That is set around the time of 1883, and there is also a potential separate contemporary franchise extension with 6666. That one is set on the Four Sixes Ranch in Texas, where Yellowstone viewers will have seen Jefferson White’s ranch hand Jimmy Hurdstrom learn to be a real cowboy, and falling in love in season four. Sheridan also has the freestanding contemporary series Tulsa King with Sylvester Stallone going into a second season, and Mayor of Kingstown with Jeremy Renner, in its second season. Finally, there is Lioness, the contemporary espionage that has Zoe Saldana, Nicole Kidman and Morgan Freeman leading the ensemble cast. That show has wraps its first season early this week. Land Man, starring Billy Bob Thornton, begins production in May.
Yellowstone, which was co-created by Sheridan and John Linson, is produced by 101 Studios and MTV Entertainment Studios and is exec produced by Sheridan, Linson, Costner, Art Linson, David C. Glasser, Bob Yari and Stephen Kay.
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