The upcoming Paramount Network sent a message for the kind of channel it wants to be Wednesday by giving a straight-to-series order to Yellowstone, an ambitious drama series from Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water screenwriter Taylor Sheridan.
The 10-episode drama will premiere in Summer 2018, after Spike rebrands as the Paramount Network in January. It's the first series in development for the new network, which aims to contend with cable networks like USA and AMC by making high-quality (and expensive) scripted content. Yellowstone is meant to be its Mr. Robot, though I anticipate Paramount and production company The Weinstein Co. to get a bigger star for the lead role than Rami Malek was when USA's flagship premiered.
"Yellowstone exemplifies what a Paramount Network original dramatic series will be with premium storytelling, high production values, compelling characters and the best talent behind the camera and in front of it," Paramount Network's president of development and production Keith Cox said in a statement.
According to The Hollywood Reporter,
Yellowstone revolves around the Dutton family, led by John Dutton, who controls the largest contiguous ranch in the U.S., under constant attack by those it borders — land developers, an Indian reservation and America's first National Park. The series is described as a study of a violent world far from media scrutiny — where land grabs make developers billions, and politicians are bought and sold by the world's largest oil and lumber corporations. Where drinking water poisoned by fracking wells and unsolved murders are not news: they are a consequence of living in the new frontier. It is the best and worst of America seen through the eyes of a family that represents both.
Casting is currently underway for the series, which will enter production in the fall. Sheridan will write and direct. I'm thinking Hell or High Water star Jeff Bridges is the obvious choice for John Dutton?
Yellowstone joins a Paramount Network slate that includes the miniseries Waco starring Taylor Kitsch as cult leader David Koresh, which is scheduled for early 2018 and will likely be Paramount Network's coming-out event; the adaptation of the cult classic movie Heathers, which is moving over from TV Land; the '70s-set Alicia Silverstone dramedy American Woman, another TV Land import; and new seasons of Spike staples like Lip Sync Battle and Bar Rescue.
So say goodbye to Spike's "television for men" and say hello to "it's not HBO, it's Paramount Network."