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Speaking at a Yellowstone panel on Saturday night, Keith Cox, president of development and production at Paramount Network, addressed the elephant in the room concerning star Kevin Costner’s future with the show.
“What I can say is our star, the face of our show and the executive producer, [we] are very confident he’s going to continue with our show,” Cox told the crowd at the Dolby Theatre, in front of hundreds of fans who delivered an enthusiastic response.
In February, it was reported that the network may seek to end Yellowstone sooner rather than later due to scheduling battles with Costner, who plays patriarch John Dutton and reportedly demanded to only work for a single week on the second half of season five. The first half of the season aired its midseason finale Jan. 1 and was set to return for the second half this summer. The episode set up a potentially deadly battle ahead between Costner’s character and his son, played by Wes Bentley.
However, production on season five has yet to resume and the cast in attendance said they have not yet received a start date for filming.
It has also been revealed that Matthew McConaughey will star in a Yellowstone spinoff series from creator Taylor Sheridan regardless of Costner’s role on the series.
At the time of the news surrounding Costner’s future, Paramount Network released this statement: “We have no news to report. 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.”
Saturday night’s panel was originally set to feature Costner, Sheridan and co-stars Bentley, Kelly Reilly, Cole Hauser, Luke Grimes, Kelsey Asbille, Gil Birmingham, Jacki Weaver and executive producer David Glasser. However, just before the event, the lineup was completely changed, replaced with Cox, Moses Brings Plenty, Dawn Olivieri, Josh Lucas and Wendy Moniz.
The reaction from the audience at the start of the panel was a collective gasp, with some attendees yelling out their surprise and disappointment at the last-minute lineup change. Several people exited, with others continuing to leave throughout the conversation.
PaleyFest learned late about the scheduling changes, according to a source. THR has reached out to both PaleyFest and Paramount Network for comment.
Some of the audience members have been taking their frustrations to social media, requesting refunds on Twitter and Instagram. Anyone who attended the panel can email firstname.lastname@example.org and expect to be contacted by Paley, THR has learned.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet before the panel, some of the cast weighed in the ongoing Costner situation. Plenty said he is “not worried about anything” because the “right people [are] at the helm” of the series. He continued, “Kevin is very much a big part of the show and hopefully will continue to be for a very long time.”
Moniz said it’s “been interesting” navigating the uncertain status of the show, saying, “We’ve just been waiting and listening and wanting to get back to work, basically.”
Olivieri, who plays the cunning corporate shark and newcomer Sarah, said of the show possibly coming to an end sooner rather than later: “I believe Taylor to write the rollercoaster, I can trust him to do that. Because why else are you writing? Are you writing so that everyone feels happy, and they feel good about what you’ve just done to them? That’s not why we watch Taylor Sheridan things. We watch it because we go [gasps] ‘I can’t believe that just happened. How could he do that?’”
The actress, who previously starred as Claire Dutton in the Yellowstone limited prequel show 1883, joked, “The names will change, hotness factors will shift, Matthew McConaugheys will appear, it’ll just be whatever it needs to be.”
During the panel, Lucas spoke to the show’s enduring popularity — the ranch-set drama counts Jennifer Lopez among its legions of fans — as an exemplar of how coastal cities tend to discount the vibrance and diversity middle America has to offer.
“I think people wanted to reduce the show to a specific Western, American, white male iconographic vision of what’s going on right now with the division in this country, and in reality, the show presents so many conflicting ideas at the exact same time, which is why I think the show is actually about America rather than a red state,” he said. “It’s presenting too many different points of view at the same time, and they clash, and they’re alive, and the problem with what the coasts do to middle America is they reduce it to a singular idea. This show is about family, it’s about love, and it’s about an idea of America — both past and present and future.”
Jackie Strause contributed to this report.
April 3, 2 p.m. Updated to include audience reaction to the lineup change.
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