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A complete timeline of the 'Yellowstone' behind-the-scenes drama between Kevin Costner and creator Taylor Sheridan

Kevin Costner as John Dutton in "Yellowstone."
Kevin Costner began playing John Dutton in "Yellowstone" in 2018.Paramount Network
  • It's been announced that "Yellowstone" is officially coming to an end with its current fifth season.

  • Rumors of a behind-the-scenes feud between cocreator Taylor Sheridan and Costner began in February.

  • Costner said in September that he'll "probably go to court" to get a payout for the rest of the season.

In February, it was reported that "Yellowstone" may be coming to a premature end.

Kevin Costner and Taylor Sheridan of 'Yellowstone' speak onstage during the Paramount Network portion of the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Langham Huntington, Pasadena on January 15, 2018 in Pasadena, California.
Kevin Costner and Taylor Sheridan of "Yellowstone" speak onstage at the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour on January 15, 2018, in Pasadena, California.Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The biggest cliffhanger in the latest season of Paramount Network's wildly popular drama "Yellowstone" wasn't delivered on screen but behind the camera.

Viewers learned via a Deadline report a month after the midseason finale aired that the future of the Dutton saga was in jeopardy following an alleged falling out between creator Taylor Sheridan and lead star Kevin Costner.

The outlet reported that cocreator and showrunner Sheridan, Paramount Global, and Paramount Network were looking to end the neo-Western drama after its current fifth season because of disagreements with Costner over shooting schedules.

The actor, who has been portraying protagonist John Dutton in the rating juggernaut since 2018, reportedly wanted to cut back his number of days filming on location for the remaining episodes of season five.

According to the report, the "Field of Dreams" star limited himself to being on set for just 50 days across the eight episodes which have already aired and wanted to only spend a week filming the remaining six installments.

It added that the scheduling conflicts had become a source of frustration for Sheridan and caused morale problems for the other stars of the show.

The same report stated that Matthew McConaughey was in talks to lead a new as-yet-untitled spinoff that will continue the franchise.

According to rumors, Matthew McConaughey has been approached to star in a new "Yellowstone" universe series.
According to rumors, Matthew McConaughey has been approached to star in a new "Yellowstone" universe series.Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Alongside the news that "Yellowstone" could be ending, Deadline also reported that the team behind the series was developing a franchise extension starring Matthew McConaughey after rejecting Costner's latest attempt at a compromise over his shooting schedule.

It was reported at the time that the "True Detective" actor was still in the process of negotiations.

A Paramount spokesperson denied the claims but said that McConaughey is a "phenomenal talent" with whom they'd love to partner.

Paramount denied the reports but described Matthew McConaughey as a "phenomenal talent"
Paramount denied the reports but described Matthew McConaughey as a "phenomenal talent."Ethan Miller/Getty Images, Getty Images for Wild Turkey

"We have no news to report," a Paramount Network spokesperson responded when Insider reached out for comment in February.

"Kevin Costner is a big part of 'Yellowstone,' and we hope that's the case for a long time to come."

Still, the statement didn't exactly put to bed the rumors, going on to add: "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."

Days later, Jamie Dutton actor Wes Bentley assured fans that it was a "bit of drama over nothing."

Wes Bentley
Wes Bentley.Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly at SCAD TVFest in February, just days after the report, Bentley said that fans have nothing to worry about.

"The news that's come out recently about the show is, you know, it's above my pay grade. Different people making decisions," the "American Horror Story" actor said.

"I know that they're still working on… working things out with everyone, to make sure we shoot. And I'm confident we will. We always have before. I think it's probably a bit of drama over nothing."

When Costner gave his Golden Globes acceptance speech for best actor in a TV drama, he didn't acknowledge the rumors, nor thank his "Yellowstone" team.

Kevin Costner attends the premiere party for Paramount Network's "Yellowstone" Season 2 at Lombardi House on May 30, 2019 in Los Angeles, California
Kevin Costner attends the premiere party for Paramount Network's "Yellowstone" Season 2 at Lombardi House on May 30, 2019, in Los Angeles, California.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

After being forced to skip the ceremony due to severe flooding near his home in Santa Barbara, on February 14 — just a week after the explosive rumors came to light — Costner posted a video of himself unboxing the trophy from his bed and shared a few words of gratitude.

He said "it feels really good" to finally receive recognition for his role in the drama, but didn't mention "Yellowstone" by name nor give thanks to cocreator Sheridan or any of the other cast members in his list of thank yous.

 

Costner's lawyer said that claims that his client only wanted to spend a week filming the rest of season five were "an absolute lie."

Kevin Costner as John Dutton in "Yellowstone."
Kevin Costner as John Dutton in "Yellowstone."Paramount Network

Speaking to Puck in February, the actor's litigator, Marty Singer, said the reports about his client were "ridiculous" but didn't speak to what Costner's future on the show looks like.

"The idea that Kevin was only willing to work one week on the second half of season five of 'Yellowstone' is an absolute lie," he said.

"It's ridiculous — and anyone suggesting it shouldn't be believed for one second," he continued. "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 March, Paramount confirmed that McConaughey's "Yellowstone" spinoff was officially moving forward regardless of Costner's future.

Matthew McConaughey at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2019 in Austin, Texas
Matthew McConaughey at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2019, in Austin, TexasTim Warner/Getty Images

In a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount Media Networks president Chris McCarthy confirmed that the rumored McConaughey-led spinoff of the popular series was moving forward, regardless of whether Costner returned to the original or not.

The outlet reported that it was one of more than 10 projects that Sheridan has lined up for the network.

As for Costner's future, he didn't have any updates to share but did tell the publication that the flagship series "wouldn't be what it is today without Kevin and we hope that that stays for a long time to come."

In April, the show's main cast was expected to attend PaleyFest in Los Angeles but didn't show up.

Yellowstone cast at PaleyFest 2023
The "Yellowstone" PaleyFest panel.Kirsten Acuna/Insider

Ahead of the show's panel on April 1, attendees were promised a special screening followed by a conversation and Q&A with the series' main cast.

The original list of those who were supposed to be there included Costner, Sheridan, and executive producer David Glasser, as well as cast members Kelly Reilly, Cole Hauser, Luke Grimes, Kelsey Asbille, Wes Bentley, Gil Birmingham, and Jacki Weaver.

However, in a last-minute shakeup that felt like an April Fools' Day prank, the entire lineup changed with none of the original talent present.

Instead, Josh Lucas, Dawn Olivieri, Wendy Moniz, and Mo Brings Plenty sat on the panel with Paramount Network development president Keith Cox.

 

Paramount Network's president of development and production, Keith Cox, told audiences at PaleyFest that Costner wasn't going anywhere any time soon.

Keith Cox, President, Development and Production for Paramount Network and TV Land on January 18, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Keith Cox, President, Development and Production for Paramount Network and TV on January 18, 2023, in Los Angeles, California.Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Paramount+

Cox addressed the rumors about Costner as the panel, attended by Insider, kicked off.

"What I can say is our star, the face of our show, and executive producer, are very confident he is going to continue with our show," said Cox.

When asked when we can expect production on the season to resume, Cox said an announcement will come "soon."

He described the season's remaining episodes as "phenomenal. I'm confident."

Cast members confirmed that filming for the remainder of season five has yet to begin, despite the previous promise that it would air this summer.

The cast of "Yellowstone"
The cast of "Yellowstone."Paramount Network

Speaking to Yahoo on the red carpet ahead of the panel, the cast in attendance confirmed that the second half of season five — which viewers were promised would air "this summer" — had not yet started filming, nor have they been given a start date or seen scripts.

"I have no news to report. I just know that Taylor's writing, and we know he's a prolific writer, and I'm excited to see it when it comes," Moniz, who plays Lynelle Perry, said.

Plenty also confirmed that production had yet to begin, but said: "There's some dates floating around."

In May, a new report stated that Costner would not be returning to "Yellowstone" after season five.

John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo) star in "Yellowstone."
John Dutton (Kevin Costner) and Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo) in "Yellowstone."Paramount Network

Sources close to production said that Costner would exit the show following its fifth season, according to Entertainment Tonight.

The unnamed source told the outlet that there was still no news about when the cast and crew would be returning to set to finish the season. They did not speak to whether the show plans to continue without the actor after season five.

The news came just a day after it was announced that Costner was also facing some personal problems after his wife of 18 years filed for divorce.

It was announced on May 5 that "Yellowstone" is officially coming to an end, with the final episodes debuting in November.

A new report in May stated that Costner would not be returning after season five of the show.
A new report in May stated that Costner would not be returning after season five of the show.Paramount Network

Just a day after ET's explosive report, fans of the show got the news they were dreading: "Yellowstone" will indeed be coming to an end with its current fifth season, which will be making its return in November.

However, the blow was softened by the news that a new untitled "Yellowstone" spinoff has been greenlit straight-to series and will premiere on Paramount Network and Paramount+ in December. Full casting for the series, it was promised, will be announced shortly.

Sharing the bittersweet news, Paramount exec Chris McCarthy said in a statement: "'Yellowstone' has been the cornerstone on which we have launched an entire universe of global hits – from '1883' to 'Tulsa King,' and I am confident our 'Yellowstone' sequel will be another big hit, thanks to the brilliant creative mind of Taylor Sheridan and our incredible casts who bring these shows to life."

David Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios, the production company behind the franchise, added: "The Dutton story continues, picking up where 'Yellowstone' leaves off in another epic tale.  We are thrilled to bring this new journey to audiences around the world."

A month later, Costner revealed via court documents related to his divorce that he is "no longer under contract" for the drama.

Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner
Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner in happier times.Getty Images

In court documents related to his increasingly acrimonious divorce from his second wife, Christine Baumgartner, the actor said he wasn't expecting to receive any monetary compensation from the series apart from "back-end contractual participation rights."

"I will earn substantially less in 2023 than I did in 2022. This is because I am no longer under contract for 'Yellowstone,' the principal source of my income last year," Costner said in a June 30 declaration obtained by Insider.

The 68-year-old actor — who in 2022 earned a reported $1.3 million for each episode of the show — said that the fixed amount "pay-or-play" and episodic compensation he received for the neo-Western series had ceased and that "so far in 2023 I have yet to receive any participation compensation from 'Yellowstone.'"

Reserved for in-demand actors, directors, and other high-profile individuals in Hollywood, a "pay-or-play" deal guarantees participants payment, even if they are released from their contract.

Costner continued: "Now, any compensation I earn from 'Yellowstone' will derive only from my back-end contractual participation rights, which amounts are not fixed."

"The most recent report from the producer for 'Yellowstone' shows I am not now owed any participation money," he said, adding that he had "disputed this."

Production on the series was put on indefinite hold in July due to the SAG-AFTRA and WGA Hollywood strikes.

image of striking actors holding up picket signs in Hollywood
SAG-AFTRA union members went on strike on July 14.CHRIS DELMAS/Getty Images

After the Writers Guild of America strike was called on May 2, Sheridan stopped script work on the upcoming episodes, he revealed to The Hollywood Reporter.

Two months later, it was announced that the American actors' union, SAG-AFTRA, was going on strike over labor disputes with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, essentially putting "Yellowstone" — along with countless other television shows — on an indefinite hiatus.

The combined Hollywood strikes have also delayed production on the second season of the prequel series, "1923," and have put a pin in the development of the upcoming "Yellowstone" spinoff starring Matthew McConaughey.

Costner broke his silence on his "Yellowstone" exit during a child support hearing in September, revealing that the decision to split season five in half finalized his decision to leave.

‘Yellowstone’ has made Kevin Costner the most well-paid actor on television. Here’s how he makes and spends his millions.
Kevin Costner.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/Getty Images

In a child support hearing on September 1 — as part of his ongoing divorce from estranged wife Christine Baumgartner — Costner said that a "long, hard-fought negotiation" about breaking season five into two parts was behind his exit, according to People.

While on the stand, Costner stated that filming the series twice a year didn't work with his plans for his four-film Western saga, "Horizon," which he is cowriting, producing, directing, and starring in.

Costner said he "changed" his schedule to work on the second half of "Yellowstone" season five, per the outlet. "That's a big deal in this world," he added.

Costner added at the time of his departure, there were "no scripts written" for the second half of the season and that "they still hadn't finished" the first half.

According to the actor, he made one final effort to return to the show, telling his representatives, "Have them pay me whatever number, we came up with a number, and they walked away." He said he believed that number was $12 million.

People reported that when asked whether he'd receive a payout for the second half of season five, Costner said: "I will probably go to court over it."

Costner reportedly wasn't shy about making his demands known for his potential return.

Kevin Costner with his two sons
Kevin Costner.Getty Images

According to a report from Puck's Matthew Belloni published in September 2023, Costner's producing partner, Rod Lake, flew to New York earlier this year to meet with Paramount executive Keyes Hill-Edgar to convince him to reverse course after the show's ending (without Costner) was announced.

While both parties reportedly seemed open to the possibility — Sheridan, who had finished the remainder of season 5 without Costner in mind, even offered to rewrite the scripts to feature Costner's character John Dutton — things soon deteriorated, per Belloni.

During a call with Sheridan, Costner reportedly made some aggressive demands of the showrunner and Paramount, including a higher salary, limited shooting schedule, and the right to potentially turn down any scripts from Sheridan that he didn't like.

The actor reportedly even has a "moral death" clause in his "Yellowstone" contract, to ensure that his character John Dutton isn't killed off in an embarrassing or awkward way.

Read the original article on Insider