New Report Says Kevin Costner’s ‘Yellowstone’ Drama Goes Back Years
Kevin Costner's differences with the producers of Yellowstone have spilled into the spotlight in recent weeks due to a standoff over his schedule, but according to a new report, there have been tensions behind the scenes for years, going back to nearly the beginning of the show.
Deadline reported in early February that Yellowstone might come to an end at the conclusion of its current season because negotiations with Costner have stalled over scheduling.
According to Deadline, Costner originally negotiated for a shooting schedule of 65 days each season when he signed on for Season 1 in 2018. He negotiated to cut his obligation to 50 days to shoot the episodes in the first half of Season 5, since he is currently directing, producing and starring in a project of his own called Horizon, an epic, four-part Western film that's a massive commitment.
Deadline reports that Costner, who stars as Dutton patriarch John Dutton on the runaway hit show, has been negotiating for a shooting schedule of just seven days for the back half of Season 5, and the network has refused. Paramount has reportedly decided to bring the show to a close and focus on another show to replace it in the overall Yellowstone franchise, which also consists of last year's 1883, the current 1923 and at least two upcoming shows, Bass Reeves and 6666.
It's the first time any behind-the-scenes dysfunction has spilled over into public view, but in a new report from Puck News, multiple sources say ego and power clashes between Costner and series creator Taylor Sheridan go back years, beginning with the first two seasons, when Costner tried to give Sheridan — whose deal with Paramount states that he doesn't even accept notes from the network — his own notes on some of the episodes.
As the seasons went on, Costner also reportedly asked for additional compensation for promotional travel despite earning $500,000 per episode in Season 1. His reported salary for Season 5 is $1.2 or $1.3 million per episode, with a guarantee of $1.5 million per episode in the event of a Season 6.
Yellowstone's Season 5 was supposed to shoot entirely in 2022, according to Puck News, but it got expanded from 10 to 16 episodes and will now air in two halves, partly because Sheridan's attention was split between a number of other shows, including 1923, Tulsa King, Mayor of Kingstown, Lioness, Land Man, Bass Reeves and more. The second half is now slated to resume filming in 2023.
Costner already has that time earmarked, and his lawyers are asking for a greatly diminished shoot for his scenes to fulfill his commitment. Sheridan is unable to even write the episodes for the second half of Season 5 until he knows what Costner's participation will be, leaving the entire show up in the air,
Puck News reports that Sheridan has considered killing off the character of John Dutton several times over the years as his battle of wills with Costner has continued, since other characters have become established breakout stars in their own right.
Costner's team tells a different story altogether.
“The idea that Kevin was only willing to work one week on the second half of Season 5 of Yellowstone is an absolute lie,” Costner's attorney, Marty Singer, tells Puck News. “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.”
In light of the new report, it seems likely that the source for the original Deadline article was a network leak designed to lean on Costner by rallying the fans, but will it work? If he and Paramont can still come to terms, we may see him return to Season 5 long enough to wrap his character. If not, his character will likely die offscreen, and Yellowstone Season 5 will return with him gone.
Meanwhile, Deadline also reports that Matthew McConaughey is in negotiations to star in a new Yellowstone spinoff to replace the show with a new show that will also include some of the stars of Yellowstone, which could very well be the long-touted 6666.