‘Yellowstone’: Kevin Costner Wanted Power to Veto Taylor Sheridan’s Scripts

Taylor Sheridan and Kevin Costner attend the premiere of 'Yellowstone' in June 2018
Presley Ann/Getty Images

John Dutton’s Yellowstone fate was reportedly sealed when star Kevin Costner added a script veto power to his list of contract demands amid the ongoing dispute between him and series creator Taylor Sheridan.

According to Puck, an entertainment industry newsletter, Costner and Sheridan met via phone in July to discuss the possibility of Costner’s character not being killed off in Season 5B, which will be the series’ final chapter. Costner is said to have expressed interest in staying on the series through a potential sixth and seventh season, but he had a list of demands that Sheridan couldn’t get behind.

Sheridan completed the Yellowstone Season 5B scripts before the WGA writers’ strike began on May 2, 2023 (Sheridan writes every script for the series on his own and has since the show began). Per Puck, Sheridan was open to the idea of revisiting the 5B scripts after the writers’ strike ended and make edits to keep the Dutton patriarch in the show, but one of Costner’s alleged stipulations for his continued presence on the series changed things.

Puck reports that Costner wanted a pay increase, a shorter filming schedule, and the right to approve or veto Sheridan’s scripts. That veto power was a non-starter for Sheridan, who also executive produces the Montana-set series. Now, it seems the plan to kill off John is still a go. Could Jamie’s (Wes Bentley) plan to kill his adoptive father, set up in the Season 5A mid-season finale, be what takes him out?

If it is, that ending will have had to be on Costner’s list of approved exit strategies. Costner’s contract reportedly includes a “moral death” provision that includes a list of acceptable ways by which his character can be killed, per Puck.

Amid all of this, Costner is in the middle of a divorce from Christine Baumgartner. In a child support hearing on September 1 in Santa Barbara, California, Costner testified that he wanted to return for a Yellowstone Season 6, but contract negotiations went south.

“We tried to negotiate, they offered me less money than [in] previous seasons, there were issues with the creative,” he said in court, adding he told his representatives to “have them pay me whatever number, we came up with a number, and they [Yellowstone] walked away.” Costner added in his testimony that “it’s a little disappointing that [it’s] the #1 show on TV [and] I’m not participating” and that he will likely go to court over the pay dispute.

Yellowstone Season 5B has yet to be filmed; the WGA and SAG-AFTRA actors strikes have put production for the final episodes of this iteration on hold indefinitely. A new version of the franchise’s centerpiece starring Matthew McConaughey will be made once the strikes are done.

While fans wait for any new Yellowstone, they can catch the series as it makes its network debut on CBS, which is airing the series from Season 1 starting Sunday, September 17 at 8:30/7:30c. Seasons 1-4 are also streaming on Peacock, and Seasons 1-5 can be watched on ParamountNetwork.com with a cable login.