Taylor Sheridan had never produced a television series when he lined up yellowstone to the Paramount Network in 2017. Having appeared in numerous small roles since the 1990s — including deputy David Hale Sons of Anarchy — Sheridan gave up acting to write and produce in the early 2010s. And when he found himself in front of network execs pitching his neo-western, Sheridan refused to back down from his insane demands.
Sheridan says when he quit acting he had no idea how to write. He says he maxed out his wife Nicole’s credit card to buy Final Draft — the only software used to write screenplays in Hollywood — and got to work.
Immediately he produced some incredible screenplays. First there was 2015 sicariofollowed in 2016 hell or flood. Sheridan snagged his first Oscar nomination for this screenplay. In 2017 he wrote wind flow, a film about the contemporary American frontier. When Paramount executives saw a clip of this film, they were interested in talking to him about it yellowstone.
It didn’t hurt, either, that Sheridan had already tied two-time Oscar winner Kevin Costner as fifth-generation rancher and series star John Dutton to the project.
When Sheridan finally got the chance to pitch yellowstone According to Paramount, he had just rescued the project from development hell at HBO where it had been sitting for years. He said he wanted the series to be made exactly how he saw it and made it clear to executives that he wasn’t willing to compromise.
“You’re not ready for this,” Sheridan told them, according to The Atlantic. “It’s going to cost $90 million to $100 million. They’re going to write a check for horses that’s $50-$75,000 a week.”
Sheridan also told the network that they would have no part of the project other than paying the bills. He also made it clear that he would write and direct every episode, that there would be no writers’ room, no one would see a draft, and there would be no notes from studio executives. Somehow they accepted Sheridan’s terms and the rest is history.
He meant it when he made his demands. Sheridan wrote every episode of season one, which worried Paramount that he was doing far too much on his own. They tried to give him a writer’s room in season 2 but it didn’t work out.
“Taylor refused to speak to them,” according to an anonymous source yellowstone put veteran. “He kept saying, ‘It’s weird that other people write my characters.’ ”
Sheridan admitted that he mostly ignored her suggestions, but gave credit to the writer’s assistant for being the only one who wrote good scenes. In season 3, the author’s room was gone.
yellowstone will return to the Paramount Network this summer for the second half of season five. Seasons 1 through 4 are now being played on Peacock.