Yellowstone’s Kevin Costner Sets Up New Western-Themed TV Show Amidst Exit Rumors

Kevin Costner is inarguably one of TV’s biggest stars at the moment. The bulk of that perception stems from his award-winning work as John Dutton on Paramount Network’s Yellowstone, which recently lit up rumor mill switchboards over the actor’s alleged scheduling conflicts that ran counter to his filming plans for the next installment of his Horizon feature saga. The dust hasn’t even technically settled over that issue, with co-stars only sharing opinions without direct knowledge, but Costner has already signed on for another new western-geared TV project at a wholly different network. 

As revealed during this year’s upfronts presentations from A&E, Kevin Costner is set to serve as a host and executive producer for History Channel’s upcoming documentary series Kevin Costner’s The West, which is just a working title at the moment, but hard to think of a more concise way to describe a thing. The project is set to spend eight episodes galloping through a host of classic stories, myths, and  clichés that sprouted from that resoundingly influential period in U.S. history. Which basically sounds like Taylor Sheridan’s work, with presumably fewer poetic voiceovers.

Costner shared a statement about how pumped he is to bring this historical look-back to TV viewers, making sure to name-check his Emmy-winning miniseries Hatfields & McCoys without any mentions of Yellowstone. (Similar to how he handled his Golden Globe acceptance speech after the fact.) In his words:

I am in love with history. I love the rich, heroic and harrowing stories of the West. The people and their stories have always held a fascination for me, but there’s an urgency today to put those times and the men and women who we think we know in perspective, in the context of their times, without judgment. This particular West project is significant for me as it marks a return to The HISTORY Channel, the home of my first foray into television with the Hatfields & McCoys, and an opportunity to partner with the legendary biographer and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who so artfully weaves together important stories that are at once expansive, intimate and true.

Viewers can expect to see stories about a wide variety of real-life cowboys and frontier folks, with various perspectives explored, as told through curated archival materials and interviews with lauded experts and historians. The show aims to not only inform audiences about the truths of the era that have been hyperbolized over time — from law enforcement to land ownership to the many battles that were fought over that land — but also to provide contextual connections for the many ways that time period still influences life in the U.S. today. 

Kevin Costner’s The West will also boast historian and Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin as an executive producer. Goodwin brings her own pop culture cachet to this project, as she’s been a featured guest star on The Simpsons and American Horror Story: Roanoke, helped with consulting for Ken Burns’ prestigious docuseries Baseball and Stephen King’s novel 11/22/63, and her award-winning book Team of Rivals served as a partial inspiration for Tony Kushner’s Oscar-nominated Lincoln screenplay.

By all means, this new show sounds right up the alleys of Costner and the Hollywood icon's fanbase. And in a way that's speaks more directly to his western genre instincts than, for example, his Fox Nation series Yellowstone: One Fifty. But I can't be the only one thinking this feels like another way for Costner to indireclty poke at the Yellowstone powers that be. The crux of the feud rumors was that Costner reportedly wanted to spend a lot less time filming Yellowstone, so that he could work on Horizon in earnest, despite being one of the biggest draws to the Paramount drama. It would stand to reason that getting involved with other projects would just be more of a time suck, so it's hard to know what the deal is. 

Maybe this project is actually proof that he has more time on his hands than anyone thought. And maybe Beth and Jamie will have an emotional conversation that leads to them getting matching BFF tattoos, and water will stop being wet. 

Yellowstone is set to return to Paramount Network later this year, assuming all involved can figure out the filming situation without further alleged disputes. Wes Bentley seems to think that the rumors were overblown, and that things will get back to normal soon enough. But if The West ends up debuting on History Channel before the Duttons' return, we'll know something's rotten.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.