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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

I am among the many who have been loving Yellowstone from season one, episode one.  Granted, when it first started, I wasn’t sure about it.  I’ve never really been a fan of the Western genre.  Yellowstone is a different type of Western, though.  This past Sunday on CBS Sunday Morning, correspondent Lee Cowan spoke to Kevin Costner and Taylor Sheridan separately about Yellowstone and Sheridan’s other shows.

There was a time that westerns were a staple of American television.  For the last five years, the modern-day western Yellowstone, the most watched series in all of television, is a show as sweeping as the family it depicts.  Think Bonanza meets The Godfather.  The show is a reminder that things aren’t as we romanticize them. 

The creator, Taylor Sheridan, also one of the stars, created 1883 starring Faith Hill and Tim McGraw.  It was so popular it’s spawned 1932, starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren.  “It’s easy to make a bad Western.  Making one a good one is a gift”, star Kevin Costner says.  Sheridan bought all the horses for the show and taught everyone on the cast to ride.  He couldn’t find anyone good enough to train them, so he joined the show as an actor.

The first thing Taylor wrote was Mayor of Kingstown.  It only took 10 hours to write the first episode.  “When I was done, I said “man, I wish I’d done this 15 years ago”.  Sicario, Wind River and his Oscar nominated screenplay Hell or High Water followed.  When it came to Yellowstone, almost everyone in Hollywood passed. 

Chris McCarthy, Paramount Network president and CEO of MTV Entertainment bet the ranch that Yellowstone would resonate.  “I’ve been in television nearly 20 years and there’s very few times where my 18-year-old niece and 80 year-old aunt asks me about the same show.  Sheridan now has no fewer than 10 Paramount series’ either on the air or in the works: 1932, Bass Reeves, Tulsa King, Land Man and Lioness, among others.   Sheridan just became part-owner of the legendary Four Sixes Ranch, selling for nearly $200 million.  It consists of over a quarter of a million acres in Lubbock, Texas. The outdoor world of the west is a place nobody really wants to leave.  In fact, Kevin Costner doesn’t.  He stays when everyone else leaves. 

If you’ve not watched Yellowstone, you have plenty of time to catch up on Paramount + and Amazon.  The next season doesn’t premiere until November 13th at 7 pm. 


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