What Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone Drama Means for the Future of the Show

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As a lengthy gap between the first and second half of Yellowstone season 5 stretches ahead, drama surrounding Kevin Costner’s continued involvement with the show appears to be heating up.

In the wake of reports earlier this month that Yellowstone may end after its fifth season due to Costner’s alleged unwillingness to commit to a sufficient shoot schedule, Costner’s attorney, Marty Singer, has denied claims that the actor, who stars as patriarch John Dutton, was only offering a week of on-location filming availability for the season’s final six episodes.

“The idea that Kevin was only willing to work one week on the second half of season 5 of Yellowstone is an absolute lie,” Singer told Puck in a story published Tuesday. “It’s ridiculous — and anyone suggesting it shouldn’t be believed for one second.”

The first half of season 5, which consisted of eight episodes, finished airing on Jan. 1. Now, Puck is reporting that the back half of the season, which Paramount originally announced would debut in summer 2023, won’t actually arrive until November. Yellowstone is currently the most popular scripted series on television, with its fifth season premiere breaking a ratings record with 12.1 million live-plus-same day viewers in November.

The current controversy seems to stem from apparent ongoing tension between Costner and Yellowstone‘s cast, crew, and executives, particularly co-creator and showrunner Taylor Sheridan, who helms a multitude of series for Paramount. “This is a relationship that has run its course,” Puck reports. “Sheridan is certainly furious…he can’t finish writing the 5B episodes until the Costner drama is resolved and his star is either in or out.”

Earlier in February, Deadline reported that Paramount was moving to end Yellowstone in its current form following season 5 and, with Costner out, expand the franchise with a Matthew McConaughey-led spinoff that would continue the Dutton family story.

“We have no news to report,” a Paramount Network spokesperson told Deadline at the time. “Kevin Costner is a big part of Yellowstone and we hope that’s the case for a long time to come. 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.”

Sheridan has already found success with two Yellowstone prequels, limited series 1883, which starred Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Sam Elliott, and 1923, a new series starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren that premiered in December 2022 and has been renewed for a second season. He also has a number of other shows either currently on the air or in the works for Paramount, including Tulsa King, Mayor of Kingstown, Lioness, and the forthcoming Yellowstone prequels 1883: The Bass Reeves Story and 6666.

Sheridan’s expanding catalogue has been a boon for Paramount’s streaming service, Paramount+, which added nearly 10 million new subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2022—more than any other streamer—to hit 56 million subscribers worldwide.

Whether Costner continues to play a role or not, it seems safe to say the Yellowstone universe is not going anywhere anytime soon.

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Write to Megan McCluskey at megan.mccluskey@time.com