Reports that Kevin Costner is leaving Yellowstone may be premature. Deadline shares that negotiations between TV's John Dutton and Paramount have stalled, but it's possible someone is doing what people do when two parties reach an impasse:

He or she leaks it to the press.

The television and film trade publication used an anonymous source. This isn't to say the story isn't reliable. During the most recent episode of the Dutton Rules podcast, Sterling Whitaker explains that Deadline is the Billboard of that industry. They won't run this kind of article without very credible information.

A better question than if the rumors are true is, who's the source? Often that's the party with the most to gain.

Monday's news features several layers. First, is that Paramount and Taylor Sheridan are looking to wrap Yellowstone and pivot to a Matthew McConaughey-led series that keeps the franchise alive. On its own, that's not shocking — Sheridan has long said that he didn't imagine Yellowstone lasting more than five or six seasons.

The Dutton Rules team thinks they know what that McConaughey-led series may be — but first, the Costner news.

According to sources, Costner wants to film every one of his scenes for the second half of Season 5 in a week. That's down from 50 days to film the first half, and 65 days of shooting in the seasons before that. Paramount Network reportedly said no thanks and made plans to move on. Officially, they offered a classic Hollywood non-denial denial that adds nothing new:

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.

Costner reportedly makes $1.3 million per Yellowstone episode, but what he values more in 2023 is time, because he's working on so many things. A 43-day reduction to his obligation seems outrageous, but not if you view this through the lens of a negotiation. What if he's really after something like 21 days? Then wouldn't asking for seven and "settling" for a bit more be a nice win?

So, Costner himself could be the leak. There was understandable uproar from Yellowstone fans about Costner leaving Yellowstone and the show ending. That's not great energy for Paramount.

On the other hand, Paramount could also be playing chicken. By drawing a very public line in the sand — and letting media know about it — they'd be calling Costner's bluff. As it stands, it seems like he's ending the marriage by asking for something unreasonable.

Admittedly, that's a lot of speculation, but there are two things almost certainly true about this news:

  • Someone will blink and Costner will return to finish Season 5.
  • The series will end after Season 5.

There's no satisfying way to kill off John Dutton without his on-screen participation, but his reluctance to continue in the role has been well-documented. In fact, the Dutton Rules team did an entire podcast on this two weeks ago.

Worth noting is that half the cast of Yellowstone will film in Texas for much of Season 5, as the show's plot has forced Rip, Ryan, Walker and Teeter to join Jimmy at the 6666 ranch. A show about the 6666 has been promised, but details have remained scarce.

We think this show is the new Matthew McConaughey vehicle Deadline writes about. For starters, it films in Texas, and McConaughey is Mr. Texas. 6666 also needs an A-list star to draw fans in like Costner did for Yellowstone and Harrison Ford does for 1923.

First, Yellowstone fans need closure.

PICTURES: See Inside Kevin Costner's Spectacular Colorado Ranch

Yellowstone star Kevin Costner lives the ranch life when he's off the set of the hit show, too. The Oscar-winning actor owns a 160-acre ranch in Aspen, Colo., that's a spectacular getaway, complete with a main residence, a lake house and a river house.

The luxury retreat also features a baseball field, a sledding hill, an ice rink, multiple hot tubs and views of the Continental Divide. The ranch property comfortably sleeps 27 people, and it's currently available to rent for 36,000 a night.

22 'Yellowstone' Facts You Probably Didn't Know

How big of a fan of Yellowstone are you? These 22 facts about the Paramount Network show are sure to stump even the most dedicated viewers. They're almost all about the cast members and their real-life passions and roles. John's kids? Beth's accent? Rainwater's guitar playing? Tate's spoilers? It's all part of this list of 22 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Yellowstone.

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