Paramount announces end to Kevin Costner-led original 'Yellowstone,' new sequel series

 Paramount is bringing sweeping changes to Taylor Sheridan's "Yellowstone" universe, officially announcing a new franchise sequel TV series and ending the Kevin Costner-led "Yellowstone" original series after five seasons this fall.

Sheridan's still-untitled "Yellowstone" sequel is scheduled to premiere on the Paramount Network in December (and stream afterward on Paramount+), according to a Paramount statement released Friday. The cast for the new series has yet to be announced, but Chris McCarthy, a Paramount executive, previously told The Hollywood Reporter Matthew McConaughey was "lined up" to appear in a new spinoff.

“'Yellowstone' has been the cornerstone on which we have launched an entire universe of global hits," Chris McCarthy, CEO of MTV Entertainment Studios, said in the announcement. "I am confident our 'Yellowstone' sequel will be another big hit."

“The Dutton story continues, picking up where 'Yellowstone' leaves off in another epic tale," David Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios, said in the release.

Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Season 5 of "Yellowstone."

When does the second half of 'Yellowstone' Season 5 premiere?

The announcement officially declares the end of the original "Yellowstone," TV's top-rated show led by Costner's patriarch John Dutton, concluding with the second half of its current Season 5. This second half - "the epic, final cycle of 'Yellowstone' - will debut in November. The first half of Season 5 concluded on Jan. 1.

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Is Kevin Costner leaving the 'Yellowstone' series?

What's not clear in the new plans is Costner's "Yellowstone" status. The raging bull ride of a national discussion started with a February report that stated "Yellowstone" could end in "spectacular fashion" and cast doubt on Costner's future with the series.

The chatter over whether Costner would return reached absurd levels of chaos after the star, Sheridan and the main "Yellowstone" cast canceled on a Los Angeles PaleyFest fan event last month rather than publicly address the situation. The move angered loyal fans who had shelled out for the sold-out event. "The moment I feel that it's not right, I'm just going to step away."

In March, McCarthy expressed hope to The Hollywood Reporter that Costner would return to the second half of Season 5 and confirmed that Matthew McConaughey is lined up to star in a "Yellowstone" extension, which would move forward regardless of whether Costner returned to the original.

Paramount appears to be hoping that Costner will return, and is unwilling to confirm recent reports of his exit at the end of Season 5. Costner, who announced divorce plans from his wife of nearly 19 years, Christine Baumgartner, this week, has made it clear that he takes "Yellowstone" season-by-season.

Costner told USA TODAY in November: "I was only going to do one season, but I've done this many. I give everything I can to what I'm doing. But the moment I feel that it's not right, I'm just going to step away."

The new series will likely feature cast members from the original "Yellowstone," while, importantly, putting an end to the rich deal that granted Comcast's Peacock, and not Paramount's own competing service, rights to stream "Yellowstone." All "Yellowstone" spinoffs will stream in the corporate family on Paramount+.

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