Kevin Costner Reportedly Wants to Approve How He's Written Off 'Yellowstone'

Paramount Network revealed last week that the series will end in November.

Kevin Costner reportedly will not commit to returning to film the final season of Yellowstone until he approves how his role is written off the show.

In what it called an "amusing wrinkle," Puck News is reporting that the 68-year-old actor wants to feel "comfortable with how his John Dutton character is written out of the franchise" and that he "wants to prevent what Shonda Rhimes did to Patrick Dempsey, killing off the race car-driving Grey's Anatomy star in an F-you car accident. So [Yellowstone creator Taylor] Sheridan may not be able to dispose of his Western-loving leading man via a kick from an angry horse."

It's also being reported that Costner's relationship with Yellowstone producers and network executives have worsened, and Puck News reports that the evidence is in how Paramount handled last week's announcement -- that the series would come to an end after season 5 -- without giving its leading man a courtesy heads up.

After ET reported that Costner, who reportedly earns $1.2 million per episode, was set to leave Yellowstone after the end of season 5, Paramount Network revealed that the series will end in November, following the release of its remaining episodes. The explosive first half of season 5 of Yellowstone came to end on New Year's Day, with the second half of season 5 initially slated to return in June.

But those plans fell apart amid alleged drama between Costner and Sheridan over the actor's filming commitments to the remaining episodes of the current season. With the show's fate seemingly in shambles, there was growing frustration on whether the cast and crew would ever return to Montana to finish shooting the rest of season 5. Beginning May 25, all eight episodes of the first half of season 5 will be available to stream exclusively on Peacock.

As for where things currently stand, Puck News is reporting that while Costner is busy working on directing his Western project, Horizon, he's yet to agree to return at all to the final episodes, with the main sticking point being how long Costner will be required on set to film the second half of season 5.

Puck News is reporting, citing sources close to the production, that Paramount President and CEO Chris McCarthy and Yellowstone producer David Glasser have suggested they need anywhere from 30 to 45 days of shooting, while Costner's team has countered with a range of one to three weeks.

What's more, the outlet reports that while waiting on Costner's attorney, Howard Kaplan, "to provide a final answer on what Costner is willing to do," McCarthy just decided to announce the end date for the new episodes, with "the first few of which written with flexibility to allow for various levels of Costner involvement (or non-involvement)."

ET spoke with Marc Malkin, Variety's senior editor of culture and events, about the Yellowstone drama.

"We are all waiting to see what is going to happen with Kevin Costner, as we know he is leaving the show," Malkin tells ET. "But will they kill him off? Will they keep him around just in case he wants to come back [in a ] spin-off? That is the big question. Negotiations are ongoing with how much time Kevin is willing shoot the show."

While Costner's reportedly trying to avoid the dilemma Dempsey faced on Grey's Anatomy, Malkin says being killed off a show is not always the end of a character.

"Patrick Dempsey did eventually come back to Grey's Anatomy in a dream sequence with Meredith Gray," Malkin said. "So, maybe Kevin Costner could be killed off, and we will have a dream sequence back on the ranch."

The Yellowstone franchise is far from over, with a new, untitled sequel series from Sheridan set to follow by the end of this year. While no cast has been confirmed at this time, the sequel series is believed to be led by Matthew McConaughey, whom McCarthy previously revealed is set to star in a Yellowstone extension.

As for when more of those details will emerge, Puck News reports that Paramount can't announce McConaughey until executives figure out the shooting schedule and other logistics for Yellowstone, and that's dependent on both the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike and Costner's ongoing schedule conflict.