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Yellowstone fans, I'll just say it: it's been a tough year. Since the Paramount Network series went on hiatus back in January, contract negotiations and filming schedule changes have ignited a feud between creator Taylor Sheridan and the show's leading star, Kevin Costner. Though the two have argued before, the internal battle has taken a turn for the worst. According to Matthew Belloni of Puck News, a call this summer between Sheridan and Costner went down to repair the relationship. Unfortunately, it did not go as planned.
According to Belloni, Costner really wanted back in to finish Yellowstone Season 5B. It would provide the series a chance to, per Belloni, "wrap up the character, fulfill the fans' wishes, and to help promote the first Horizon, which Costner directed last summer and which Warner Bros. still has not given a release date." Sheridan was prepared to rewrite 5B post-strike with an arc that would properly say goodbye to John Dutton and introduce the planned sequel series with Matthew McConaughey. But the team couldn't anticipate how this summer call between the two would end. Here's what happened, according to Belloni's report:
Costner and Sheridan indeed got on a call together in early July to discuss how a return would work... But on the call, Costner, while speaking in a friendly tone to Sheridan, unfurled his list of demands: Increased money, reduced shooting schedule, and—here’s the kicker—the right to review, approve, and potentially veto every Sheridan script. That last part was a non-starter for Sheridan, who famously writes 'Yellowstone' himself and believed that 4.5 seasons of megahit TV earned him the right to say no. Paramount walked away shortly thereafter.
The Dutton patriarch reportedly wants the money for his canceled appearances in Season Six and Seven, despite the fact that Yellowstone is now ending after Season Five. Allegedly, Costner also has a "moral death" provision in his contract, which essentially allows the star to have veto power over how his character is killed off the series. The clause was inserted during one of Costner's previous renegotiations—most likely after the series almost killed him off in the Season Three finale.
Sadly, it's looking increasingly likely that Costner never returns to the franchise. Since Sheridan writes all the scripts himself, it wouldn't be surprising to see Yellowstone among one of the first shows to go into production once the SAG-AFTRA strike ends. Until then, it seems like the Dutton Ranch ain't big enough for the both of 'em.
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