Kevin Costner reportedly left his hit Paramount+ series Yellowstone earlier this summer before the second half of its fifth – and now final – season.
But a new report claims that Costner and his representatives spent much of his free time over the summer, amid ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, negotiating with Paramount and showrunner Taylor Sheridan to bring him back into the series.
According to Puck NewsThe 68-year-old actor — who has been engaged in a brutal divorce from Christine Baumgartner in recent months — even wanted to stay on the show for a potential sixth and seventh season if Sheridan, who wrote every episode of the series. since season three, was willing to give it another chance.
But Costner’s whirlwind negotiations reportedly went nowhere after he made a series of demands during a disastrous phone call with Sheridan.
The demand for breaking the deal was reportedly that he have veto power over Sheridan’s scripts, which the showrunner could not respect, although Costner also reportedly had a “moral death” clause in his Yellowstone contract which severely limits how his character John Dutton could be killed off.
Fatal mistake: Kevin Costner, 68, negotiated to return to Yellowstone for its 5B season amid ongoing Hollywood strikes, but his demand for script vetoes ended any chance of his return, reported Puck News Thursday; still from Yellowstone
Not giving in: Showrunner, writer and director Taylor Sheridan clashed with Costner and refused to cede the creative control he had gained over the years from the hit series; seen in 2021 in Las Vegas
Earlier this year, Costner negotiated with Paramount over his demands to reduce his work schedule for Season 5B of Yellowstone, as he was about to direct the first installment of his four-part Western film series Horizon at around the same time.
Costner, who has now completed principal production on that film, had also requested more control over the scripts, particularly regarding his character’s arc.
However, 101 Studios, which produces Yellowstone, and Paramount, its distributor, ended negotiations in May of this year and simply announced that Costner would not return for season 5B.
Instead, the series is set to move on to a newly titled sequel, with Matthew McConaughey joining the fold in a new lead role.
After Costner was written out of the second half of season five, his producing partner Rod Lake contacted Paramount Media Networks and MTV Entertainment Studios COO Keyes Hill-Edgar to request an urgent meeting in New York, according to two sources.
Lake made it clear that Costner was desperate to finish his original run on the series and give fans what they’ve been asking for, although he also reportedly saw his return to Yellowstone as a way to promote his Horizon films, which he directed for Warner Bros. .
Lake apparently made some progress with Hill-Edgar and convinced him to phone Sheridan with Costner to iron out their differences.
Sheridan had already written scripts for Season 5B that wrote out Costner’s character, but he was willing to rewrite them after the strike if he and the star could work out an arrangement.
The two men reportedly spoke on the phone in early July, but this call deteriorated their already tense relations.
Costner – who was described as “speaking in a friendly tone” – reportedly asked for more money and less filming time.
However, it was his demand to see Sheridan’s scripts in advance and approve, and possibly even object to them, that made the writer and director’s blood boil.
Negotiations: Costner’s producing partner reportedly arranged a meeting with Paramount in New York over the summer to call Sheridan and Costner on the phone to work out a deal; still from Yellowstone
Too Pushed: But Costner told Sheridan he wanted more money, less time on set and veto power over his scripts. Paramount supported Sheridan and withdrew from negotiations; seen in November 2022 in Fort Worth, Texas
That’s all she wrote: The straw that broke the camel’s back was reportedly Costner’s assertion that he might sue for Season 5B salaries during a hearing in his divorce battle with his ex-wife Christine Baumgartner; seen in March 2022
Although Sheridan has been criticized for spreading himself too thin with multiple shows for Paramount and Paramount+ that he largely writes, directs and stars in himself, he was unwilling to cede that creative control to his star.
Paramount reportedly sided with Sheridan and ended discussions shortly after the counterproductive phone call.
However, sources claimed that Paramount Media Networks CEO Chris McCarthy was still willing to find a way for Costner to return, and he hoped that as the writers’ and actors’ strikes dragged on, they would be able to reach an agreement.
However, Costner lost all goodwill within the network when he showed up in court during a divorce hearing on September 1 so he could sue for the salary he was expecting for season 5B.
But sources claimed he had already been paid for both halves of Season 5 and was possibly referring to two other potential seasons he had hoped to film afterward.
Costner reportedly believed Paramount was in violation for offering him a package to stay on for seasons 6 and 7, although a source close to production claimed the studio had “officially” ended his offer.
Costner’s team now appears to believe that Sheridan’s plans to kill off his character might violate the “moral death” provisions of his contract.
The clause states that his character, John Dutton, cannot be killed off in a way that would shame his character’s family, which would likely embarrass the JFK star as well.
However, sources close to the show disputed that Sheridan would not comply with the clause, and said that Costner never read any details about how the showrunner planned to send Dutton out.
Although the “moral death” clause has been described as an outlier by Paramount, other movie stars have previously tried to ensure their characters are seen in the most positive light possible.
Sticking point: Costner has a clause in his contract stating that John Dutton cannot be killed in a way that would shame or embarrass his character (or himself), and he feared Sheridan would violate it; still from Yellowstone
Back and forth: But sources claimed Sheridan didn’t violate Dutton-less scripts for Season 5B, and they said Costner never read about how his character would be written off; Sheridan seen in February in Austin, Texas
In 2019, the Wall Street Journal reported that Fast & Furious series stars Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham all have clauses in their contracts requiring that on-screen fights not be too lopsided in favor of the villain, and that filmmakers are not allowed to show the actors. be seriously injured, probably for fear of hurting their pride and macho image.
Despite its desire to keep Costner in the fold, Paramount has apparently gotten used to the idea of a series without John Dutton. Viewer studies conducted by the network throughout the shows’ run reportedly showed that Costner and his character were big talking points on social media, but they had declined significantly in later seasons, which also coincided with the addition of additional supporting characters to the overall melodrama.
Another obstacle to Costner’s return is that Matthew McConaughey is reportedly willing to rejoin, even though he hasn’t signed an official contract for the new series.
Sheridan already has a batch of scripts for Season 5B without John Dutton, so the series could quickly go into production as soon as the writers’ and actors’ strikes against AMPTP are resolved.