Taylor Sheridan is one of the most creative people in Hollywood right now. It seems like he can dream up ideas for hit TV shows in his sleep.”Yellowstone,” a popular Western drama on the Paramount Network, was his first big hit on TV. The show started in 2018 with legendary actor Kevin Costner in the lead role. Since then, it has been a ratings powerhouse for Paramount. But it looks like the show almost started with a different movie star in the lead role and on a different network.
That network was allegedly HBO, which Sheridan pitched the idea for “Yellowstone” to many years ago. According to the story, HBO was very interested in Sheridan’s “‘The Godfather’ in Montana” idea at first. They thought he could get a big star to play John Dutton, the overbearing dad. Sheridan says that HBO told him that if he got Robert Redford, “Yellowstone” would get a quick green light. Sheridan would get angry about that apparently smart casting note, though, not because he couldn’t get the famous actor, but because he did.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Sheridan told the truth about that story. He said that he quickly went to Park City, Utah, and was able to convince Redford to play the part. But Sheridan said that when he told his HBO bosses the good news, they told him infuriatingly that they meant to cast “a Robert Redford type,” not the actor himself. Things went downhill from there, as you might expect, and HBO ended up killing the idea for good.
Even though HBO made a mess of the hiring, Yellowstone was a big hit.
Taylor Sheridan told The Hollywood Reporter that the only good thing about the almost comically stupid HBO casting mess was that Sheridan’s boss at the time, Michael Lombardo, who had supported his idea for “Yellowstone” for a long time, was kind enough to return the series’ rights. According to THR, this was an unusual move for HBO, which, like many other networks, tends to keep the rights to shows it doesn’t want because it doesn’t want them to be a hit on another network. So, even though Sheridan’s fight with HBO should have been the end of his Montana tragedy, it turned out to be the start of something new.
Even though “Yellowstone” got a new lease on life, the show had a hard time getting to TV. Sheridan said that almost every company in town turned down the show before Paramount Network picked it up. Even so, Sheridan says that the cable station wasn’t exactly a creative hub before “Yellowstone” came out. In fact, the show was a big reason why people knew about Paramount Network.
As for the role of John Dutton, Robert Redford did not stay on to play it on television. Instead, Kevin Costner took over the role for the show’s first appearance on small screens. Even though there have been rumors that Costner and the show’s producers aren’t getting along as well as they used to, no one could argue that the actor hasn’t played John Dutton with a fiery sort of stoic grace over the course of the show’s big run. So well, in fact, that it’s hard to think of anyone, not even the great Robert Redford, who could play the part better.