‘1883’: Here’s How Taylor Sheridan Pitched the Show to Paramount

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Viacom)

When pitching shows to networks, it usually helps if you have a successful show already. 1883 was pitched as the origin series for the Dutton family. Taylor Sheridan, the creator of Yellowstone, is ready to build the universe out further.

In 1883, viewers will get to see the early Dutton family. While they currently live on a ranch in Montana in Yellowstone, the origin series is going to show the family’s journey to get there. It mainly takes place in Texas, early Dallas-Fort Worth. There has been extensive attention to detail with this show and a huge budget to boot.

When it came to the series, Chris McCarthy, president, and CEO of MTV Entertainment Group had a big choice to make. He looked at the landscape of his programming in 2019. That’s when he made the decision to double down on Yellowstone and more specifically Sheridan. When the choice came, expanding the Sheridan universe with a new show made sense.

“I think they saw an opportunity to build a bigger world, at the same time people had a lot of time to sort of reassess, and they decided to really double down on Paramount+ and the kind of content I make,” Sheridan explained to the LA Times. “And so I talked to Chris about a lot of ambitious ideas, and he bet on them.”

McCarthy is quick to point out the story-telling ability that Sheridan brings to his show, “This was a conversation he was already having with himself,” the executive said. “When you listen to him tell a story, it’s like telling the story of America gone West, the fight for the last frontier. … The question is, how big can we get it?”

1883 is set to expand those limits when it debuts, opening up the Sheridan Yellowstone world for more expansion.

‘1883’ Opens Up ‘Yellowstone’ World, and Network Pockets

If you are going to have Taylor Sheridan come up with a new series, it is going to cost money. His shows feature big-name stars that are typically reserved for theaters and movies. His sets are large and detailed. If you want that show filmed during a pandemic, then it is going to get very expensive.

It is reported that each episode of Yellowstone costs an average of $6 to $8 million to make. That’s a lot of dough. However, due to the safety precautions and other details that went into the series, 1883 makes those numbers look like a bargain. However, executives are fine with the price tag, and are fully believing in the Sheridan model. With all that money on the table, success is a must.

“My sincere hope is that I deliver,” Sheridan said. With Tim McGraw set to star along with other big names, the previous success of Yellowstone could repeat with 1883. We just have to wait and see.