Between epic romances, brawling cowboys and shoot-outs over coveted acres of Montana ranchland, Yellowstone was packed to the brim with drama during its successful five-season run on Paramount+. Behind the scenes, conflict has also reigned. In May 2023, reports of tension between show creator Taylor Sheridan and star Kevin Costner over scheduling and money peaked when it was announced the smash-hit series would come to an end after the second half of season 5 airs in 2024 (and that Kevin would be written out of the final installment).

And now, plans of a much-hyped spinoff series have hit a roadblock. Despite major casting buzz, Hollywood A-listers Matthew McConaughey and Michelle Pfeiffer have yet to sign on the dotted line, and Yellowstone alums Cole Hauser and Kelly Reilly (who play beloved onscreen couple Rip Wheeler and Beth Dutton) and Luke Grimes are demanding big raises and top billing. “They’re all asking for more than $1 million per episode,” an insider exclusively tells Life & Style, “and they won’t be pressured into taking less. It’s become a bit of a standoff.”

Under Pressure

Producers are desperate to lock Matthew in for the spinoff series, but it hasn’t been an easy feat. The insider says the 54-year-old Oscar winner has been sending scripts back and asking for revisions. “Matthew wants to be a part of the franchise, he’s a big fan, but he wants to flesh out his character more and has other ideas of his own to pass along,” says the insider. “Taylor and his colleagues are scrambling to make it work.” There’s also the salary issue: “Matthew’s asking for $2.5 million per episode and he’s not budging,” the insider reveals. (Meanwhile, the insider says Michelle, 65, is “close” to signing a deal.)

Cole, Kelly and Luke are also playing hardball. According to reports, Kelly, 46, requested $1.5 million an episode, while Cole, 48, asked for $1.25 million (he currently makes $700,000 per episode). Paramount+ has reportedly offered Cole $850,000 for the first season of the spinoff and $950,000 for the guaranteed second season — and is proposing that all three actors apply their pay-or-play salary from season 6 of Yellowstone (which won’t be filmed) to the new show — in essence using the money they are due to pay themselves for the new project.

“They feel they’re worth much more than that, especially since their characters are being used to set up the spinoff, and believe the powers that be are being stingy,” says the insider. They also want top billing above Matthew and Michelle. Luke, 40 — who’s releasing his first country music album in March — is less invested in the outcome. “He’s looking to become a Nashville star,” the insider says.

Creative Differences

Taylor is “disappointed” with all of the delays. (In the meantime, it was recently announced Demi Moore will star opposite Billy Bob Thornton in Taylor’s upcoming oil boom series, Landman.) “All this haggling over scripts and salaries is taking longer than expected,” says the insider. “Some say he’s got an ego bigger than the state of Texas and doesn’t like interference, but he’s still willing to do what it takes to get these people on board — within reason.”