The Snobbish Reason HBO Rejected ‘Yellowstone’
— Updated on 26 June 2023

The Snobbish Reason HBO Rejected ‘Yellowstone’

— Updated on 26 June 2023
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

It beggars belief that any network executive would even dream of letting a hit as monstrous as Yellowstone slip by, but before the beloved neo-western found a home with Paramount, that’s exactly what HBO did.

Pitched as “The Godfather in Montana,” it initially piqued the bastions of premium content’s interest. Particularly that of then-programming president Michael Lombardo, who would ultimately lose the battle in convincing his fellow HBO execs that Yellowstone was worth pursuing.

Even after creator Taylor Sheridan achieved the impossible by securing heavyweight thespian Robert Redford for the role of patriarch John Dutton, as per the direct request of said HBO execs themselves, there was still far too much reluctance.

RELATED: ‘Yellowstone’ Spin-Off Starring Matthew McConaughey On The Way

“We go to lunch in some snazzy place in West LA,” Taylor Sheridan recounted (via The Hollywood Reporter).

“And [Yellowstone co-creator] John Linson finally asks: ‘Why don’t you want to make it?’ And the VP goes: ‘Look, it just feels so Middle America. We’re HBO, we’re avant-garde, we’re trendsetters.'”

“‘This feels like a step backward. And frankly, I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think anyone should be living out there [in rural Montana]. It should be a park or something.’“

This painfully West-coast sentence would actually make its way into Yellowstone season 2 when a reporter openly slanders Montana; the same reporter that, fittingly enough, Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) later murders.

RELATED: ‘Yellowstone’ Creator Taylor Sheridan Already Knows How The Series Will End

The Snobbish Reason HBO Rejected Yellowstone

Sheridan continued: “I spent the first 37 years of my life compromising. When I quit acting, I decided that I am going to tell my stories my way, period. If you don’t want me to tell them, fine. Give them back and I’ll find someone who does — or I won’t, and then I’ll read them in some freaking dinner theatre. But I won’t compromise. There is no compromising.”

Eventually, Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone — led by the soon-to-be-exiting Kevin Costner — would prove to be a success that wasn’t just capable of breaking viewership records, but essentially bolstering an entire streaming service in Paramount+.

It’s to the point where the actor-turned-powerhouse creative pretty much has carte blanche. According to The Hollywood Reporter, estimates indicate Paramount is currently spending around $500 million per year producing Sheridan’s shows alone. Or approximately $10 to $15 million an episode.

RELATED: Taylor Sheridan Revisits ‘Sicario’ Territory With Brand New CIA Thriller ‘Lioness’

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“[The prequels are] time capsules of life in Montana as a microcosm of the world as a whole. They’re big spectacles, and the more that you move into the modern era, the bigger that spectacle becomes.”

“I know these are huge bets Paramount makes on me every time. I’m asking them to give me Game of Thrones season 6 money for what is essentially a pilot every year, and that’s a big ask.”

“As long as I do my job well, and people don’t bore of the genre, I think there will be enough for many more [prequels] — three or four. Chris McCarthy trusts me, because I haven’t been wrong yet.”

“If I’m parking 20 million people in front of a television, if I’m beating NFL Sunday Night Football routinely, I think the fact I wanted four cameras and worked late into Friday — I don’t think that’s a bad trade,” he adds.

Guess the joke’s on HBO for this one.

RELATED: In 2011, ‘Yellowstone’ Creator Taylor Sheridan Was Down To His Last $800 — Now He’s Worth Over $200 Million

Now that you’ve read all about the time HBO passed on Yellowstone, check out our articles on the time they passed on Mad Men and when they burned over $40 million on a failed Game of Thrones pilot.

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Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]


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