Kevin Costner’s purported demands and/or replacement on Yellowstone have taken center stage these last few weeks. Regardless of rumors, one point stands true: the biggest show on television is going through some major growing pains.
Speaking to Paramount on the matter gets you about as far as you’d expect. The studio’s concern is their monster franchise, and the answer I got from execs when the drama began solidifies that. Yellowstone is not ending, and they hope to continue working with Kevin Costner for as long as they can (see that full report here).
Garnering clarification from Costner’s side is a whole other matter, however. There are always two sides to a story. And today brings the first official statement from the actor’s side of what sound to be difficult, drawn out negotiations. Or studio politics, if you like.
The statement comes courtesy of Matthew Belloni and PUCK, his “insider-friendly” tip sheet. Belloni spent 14 years in the trenches at The Hollywood Reporter and five before that as an entertainment lawyer. He knows Costner’s litigator, Marty Singer, personally. So this is the report worth considering when it comes to Costner’s side of the debacle, as the star himself is unlikely to address a situation he’s smack in the middle of.
Belloni spoke to Singer, directly, who had the following to say:
“The idea that Kevin was only willing to work one week on the second half of Season 5 of Yellowstone is an absolute lie. It’s ridiculous—and anyone suggesting it shouldn’t be believed for one second. As everyone who knows anything about Kevin is well aware, he is incredibly passionate about the show and has always gone way above and beyond to ensure its success.”Marty Singer, litigator to Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner and Taylor Sheridan are at a ‘Yellowstone’ Impasse
According to Belloni, Costner sees this entire situation differently. “Season 5 was supposed to finish shooting in its entirety in 2022,” the insider reports. “But Sheridan—busy with tons of other projects—failed to deliver scripts on time and constantly moved the schedule around,” his sources cite.
Belloni’s sources also compare the relationship between Costner and Yellowstone franchise mastermind Taylor Sheridan to “Brady and Belichick,” and “Silverbacks wrestling.” These two giants of the entertainment industry are used to getting their way.
Costner is already piloting his return to original storytelling (the Western film series Horizon). As he does, his availability for Yellowstone is dwindling. Enter those studio politics, which have become so loud that trades caught wind, ran with it, and here we are.
Paramount Weighs In (Again)
In response to Costner’s litigator, a Paramount rep told Belloni today:
“As we previously stated, Kevin has been a key component of the success of our Yellowstone series, and we hope that continues from here on out.”Paramount Rep to Matthew Belloni, PUCK
To Belloni, “This could all be a big, noisy negotiation. Perhaps Costner’s blustery team will calm down and work out a deal that lets him shoot his movies and still remain involved in the show in some way.”
But more likely, he adds, “This is a relationship that has run its course. Sheridan is certainly furious, I’m told.”
Apparently, Sheridan can’t finish writing the second half of Yellowstone Season 5 until the Kevin Costner drama is resolved and the series’ John Dutton is either in or out.
“Sheridan and lead producer David Glasser are said to have been planning for Costner’s eventual exit for a while,” Belloni offers. “And Sheridan has considered killing off John Dutton before, but this time, as they say, it’s personal.”
PUCK’s full report is available here, though part of a subscription-based service for insider reporting. As for my own take, this all feels petty, but necessary. There is no Yellowstone proper without Costner. But there is absolutely a Taylor Sheridan Universe without him as 1923 continues to prove.
In the end, it feels most likely to me that an agreement will be reached, Season 5’s second half will be delayed, and Kevin Costner will exit as soon as Sheridan’s able to write John Dutton out of the story. We’ll just have to play the waiting game to see how it all works out.