Taylor Sheridan ‘Lawmen’ Series Is Criminally Bad – IndieWire – Armessa Movie News

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In the last two years, Paramount+ has released 13 drama series, six of which have stemmed from “Yellowstone” creator Taylor Sheridan. Some are directly tied to the hit cable (and now broadcast) series, like the timestamped prequels “1883” and “1923,” while others merely bear the prolific writer and producer’s name (“Mayor of Kingstown,” “Tulsa King,” and “Special Ops: Lioness”). All have been considered successful by the nascent streamer (if less so by the culture at large), and thus the Taylor Sheridan Television Universe continues expanding.

Its latest, “Lawmen: Bass Reeves,” is actually built from both sides of the Dutton family’s ever-expanding fence — or it was, at least. While always about the first Black U.S. Marshall west of the Mississippi River, the seasonal anthology series was originally tied to “1883” before redevelopments set its story apart and Sheridan, who was once attached to direct, ended up solely an executive producer. Through four of the 10 episodes, I can’t say it really matters if “Bass Reeves” was directly linked to Kevin Costner’s TV family or not. Perhaps waiting around for a Tim McGraw cameo would make a difference for “Yellowstone” completists, but “Bass Reeves” is far too formulaic, too rushed, and too incurious to be propped up MCU-style by cameos.

Aubrey Plaza and Will Sharpe in 'The White Lotus'

Determined viewers do face a slight dilemma: You could skip the hourlong premiere episode and read the “early career” section of Reeves’ Wikipedia page, or you could slog through the uninspired, point-by-point recitation and be rewarded with Shea Whigham quoting Alfred Lord Tennyson on the battlefield. As a compromise, may I suggest checking out the first five minutes and skipping the remaining 52 — you’ll hear Whigham’s paraphrased poetry reading, yet won’t have to endure the increasingly predictable events that follow. Created by Chad Feehan (“Ray Donovan”) with a pilot directed by “Yellowstone” veteran Chistina Alexandra Voros, “Bass Reeves” picks up mid-combat, after Reeves (Oyelowo) has been dragged into the Civil War — and forced to fight for the Confederacy — by Colonel George R. Reeves (Whigham). Bass is not a soldier; he’s enslaved and acting at the behest of the Colonel, though you’d be hard-pressed to explain the difference once his skills with a rifle prove instrumental to both men surviving an ambush or two.

Despite the historical lack of clarity over how Bass secures his freedom, “Lawmen” sticks to the internet’s summation of events, providing even less context or motivating factors than any thoughtful reader could speculate on their own. Bass’ internal drive, his motivations, are kept as broad as possible. He leaves because he’s fed up and fears for his safety. He goes where he feels safe and he’s needed (a rural farm in Indigenous territory). He adapts quickly, as the series jumps ahead months (and sometimes years) after each commercial break. (“Commercial break?” you may ask. “Isn’t this a streaming series?” Yes, it is! But streaming has ads now, and “Bass Reeves” could follow in “Yellowstone’s” footsteps and end up airing on CBS, should the powers that be want to continue their synergistic release strategies.)

Bass Reeves TV show Lauren E. Banks as Jennie Reeves and Demi Singleton as Sally Reeves in Lawmen: Bass Reeves streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Credit: Emerson Miller/Paramount+
Lauren E. Banks and Demi Singleton in “Lawmen: Bass Reeves”Courtesy of Emerson Miller / Paramount+

It takes two full hours for “Bass Reeves” to reach what should’ve been its starting point: when Bass is sworn in as a Deputy U.S. Marshal. By then, knowing there are only 10 total episodes to this tale, it’s too late. “Bass Reeves” trots through a couple of perfunctory investigations, collaring a couple of criminals, and surviving a few dust-ups. Along the way, he picks up random partners (including Garrett Hedlund, who I can only assume is playing the great, great grandfather of his “Tulsa King” character), but the only parts that stick are thematic (and even those aren’t as striking as Oyelowo, always a committed, immersed performer).

Built as a revisionist western (that still savors its shootouts), “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” sees its titular star dwelling on what it means to be both a lawman and a Christian. Most of his difficulties center on how his duties conflict with his pacifism, as he has no taste for killing, though Bass also notices ways the supposedly impartial law partially tips the scales of justice. A Black man who steals out of necessity is given the same sentence as white cowboys who act out of greed. A doctor trying to decide which wounded patient to prioritize asks Bass, “Who got plucked? Law or outlaw?” “They both die about the same,” Bass replies. When an atheist cowboy (Dennis Quaid, who chews nearly as much tobacco as scenery) mocks Bass for believing in a God that allows men to suffer in slavery, Bass merely says that his faith “gave me the hope to believe” he could someday be free. Later, he swears to enact God’s will through the justice system, claiming, “Until God say [sic] otherwise, I’m the only law they [sic] is.”

Donald Sutherland plays Judge Isaac Parker, who Wiki informs me will come to see Bass as a “valued deputy.” The seeds of their relationship are planted in Episode 3, but “Lawmen” doesn’t take the time to engage in any debate between an old school adjudicator and a newly hired officer. It just bookends the hour with an unremarked upon disagreement, trusting the audience to take away whatever they want. “Lawmen: Bass Reeves” isn’t interested in the nuanced internal conflicts that must have roiled inside a former slave who chose to protect and serve slave owners, a Black man forced to fight for the Confederate army, or even a pacifist who picked up a gun every single day — at least, it’s not interested enough, soon enough. It solemnly nods at such issues as they walk by, but it does not stop to engage with them.

Instead, it tells yet another tale of a farmer who’s sworn off killing, yet kills again anyway; a husband who loves his wife (Lauren E. Banks) more than anything, yet risks losing her whenever the cowboys come callin’; a father who’s proud of his kids (his eldest is played by Demi Singleton), but who’s rarely around to see them do much of anything. Toss in a few shameless deaths to motivate Bass, and you’ll soon feel like you’ve seen this dark and dour story before. That may be the point. Given how quickly the Sheridan-verse is expanding, it needs easy stories, and fast. But Bass Reeves, no matter who he really was, deserves a more inquisitive case study than this.

Grade: C-

“Lawmen: Bass Reeves” premieres Sunday, November 5 on Paramount+ with two episodes. New episodes will be released weekly.

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Taylor Sheridan Says It Was Too Middle America for HBO – IndieWire – Armessa Movie News

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Taylor Sheridan is calling out HBO for underestimating the appeal of the neo-Western genre.

The “Yellowstone” creator shared in a wide-ranging The Hollywood Reporter cover story that HBO bungled the initial deal for the mega-hit series before it landed at Paramount Network. Sheridan pitched “Yellowstone” as “‘The Godfather’ in Montana,” and the script, despite originally being written as a film, was in series development at HBO under then-programming president Michael Lombardo.

Despite Sheridan pitching the idea of Kevin Costner playing patriarch John Dutton, the network “didn’t see it” and wanted Robert Redford.

“They said, ‘If you can get us Robert Redford, we’ll greenlight the pilot,’” Sheridan recalled. “I drive to Sundance and spend the day with [Redford] and he agrees to play John Dutton. I call the senior vice president in charge of production and say, ‘I got him!’ ‘You got who?’ ‘Robert Redford.’ ‘What?!‘ ‘You said if I got Robert Redford, you’d greenlight the show.’ And he says — and you can’t make this shit up — ‘We meant a Robert Redford type.’”

Soon thereafter, an HBO network vice president, “whose name I remember, but I’m just not saying it,” added Sheridan, invited Sheridan and “Yellowstone” co-creator John Linson to a meeting to discuss next steps.

“We go to lunch in some snazzy place in West L.A.,” Sheridan said. “And 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.’”

The HBO executive also allegedly took issue with the character Beth Dutton, now played by fan favorite Kelly Reilly.

“‘We think she’s too abrasive. We want to tone her down. Women won’t like her,’” Sheridan remembered the VP saying. “They were wrong, because Beth says the quiet part out loud every time. When someone’s rude to you in a restaurant, or cuts you off in the parking lot, Beth says the thing you wish you’d said.”

He added, “So I said to them, ‘OK, everybody done? Who on this call is responsible for a scripted show that you guys have on the air? Oh, you’re not? Thanks.’ And I hung up. They never called back.”

It wasn’t until Lombardo’s exit in 2016 that Sheridan was able to pitch “Yellowstone” elsewhere.

“When the regime changed, Lombardo called me. To his credit, he said, ‘I always believed in the show, but I could not get any support,’” Sheridan said. “His last act before they fired him was to give me the script back. I took it to TNT, I took it to TBS!”

“Yellowstone” eventually ended up at Paramount, with the big-budget first season premiering in 2018. Per an Atlantic report in 2022, Sheridan told Viacom executives that the series was going to cost approximately $100 million and that he would retain total creative control.

The first season of “Yellowstone” was expected to cost $7 million per episode but by the end of production, it was more than $20 million over budget due to script and production delays. However, Paramount’s bet on Sheridan paid off: “Yellowstone” has spurred multiple spinoffs, and Sheridan is also behind fellow Paramount-backed hit series “Tulsa King,” “Mayor of Kingstown,” and the upcoming “Special Ops: Lioness.” Original series “Yellowstone” will conclude later this year after five seasons amid lead star Costner’s exit.

And former HBO executive Lombardo knew Sheridan would be a hit from the start.

“I thought Taylor was the real deal,” Lombardo told THR. “In a world of people who pose, he was writing what he knew, and he cared desperately about the show. The idea of doing a modern-classic Western was a great idea — we were always doing urban shows, and this felt fresh.”

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Charles Melton, Tye Sheridan Receive Breakthrough Artists at Cannes Awards – Armessa Movie News

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Cate Blanchett kicked off her stilettos on Friday night as she took the stage a Cannes Film Festival party hosted by Variety and the Golden Globes. Because this is Cannes, where women are mandated to wear heels on the red carpet, shoes have become a political symbol on the French Riviera. And indeed, in this case, Blanchett went barefoot to make a statement — to stand in solidarity with the women of Iran. The A-list actor, on hand to present “Holy Spider” star Zahra Amir Ebrahim with a breakthrough artists award, grabbed the trophy and joked, “This is to stab everyone who stands in the way of women’s rights. Up the vajayjay!”

In her remarks, an emotional Ebrahimi called attention to her home country, which is “executing innocent people.” She said, “I always thought being an actress was a paradox: serving the emotions of your own and being a flag or mirror or light. This award celebrates this paradox.”

Blanchett kicks off her heels as she presents to “Holy Spider” star Zahra Amir Ebrahimi. (Photo by Pierre Suu/Variety via Getty Images)
Variety via Getty Images

Along with Ebrahimi, “May December” actor Charles Melton, “Black Flies” star Tye Sheridan and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” breakout Shaunette Renée Wilson were also honored at the gathering — a first-time Cannes collaboration with Variety and the Golden Globes that celebrated breakthrough actors.

The party, which brought out filmmaker Todd Haynes, playwright Jeremy O. Harris, director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, and more, was held at Barriere Beach at The Majestic Cannes. They were joined by top producers, executives and artists at the festival, including Thierry Fremaux, Mads Mikkelsen, Christine Vachon, Pauline Chalamet, Boyd Holbrook and Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard. Variety co-editor-in-chief Ramin Setoodeh and Golden Globes president Helen Hoehne emceed the evening, which went on until 2 a.m. as attendees danced on the beach to decade-spanning hits.

Back onstage, Sauvaire, who directed Sheridan in the competition entry “Black Flies,” called the actor “my friend, my supporter, my partner.”

While accepting the trophy, Sheridan dedicated to medics around the world, who served as inspiration for their intense thriller. “I’ve been super lucky to work with talented people,” he said. “You can’t be a breakthrough artist without having a lot of people who support you.”

As the evening continued, Haynes described the “daunting task” of finding an actor to play against these “extraordinary power house women,” referring to Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore, who co-star in his age-gap romance drama “May December.” Melton plays the much younger husband of Moore’s character in the film, which debuts at the festival on Saturday night.

Todd Haynes and Charles Melton embrace at the Variety and Golden Globes Breakthrough Artists Party. (Photo by Pierre Suu/Variety via Getty Images)
Variety via Getty Images

“We started looking at readings and I saw this guy Charles Melton and I was like, ‘No, he’s so good looking. There’s no way,’” Haynes said of the actor who starred in the hit CW series “Riverdale.” “I heard the audition, and it has such nuance and understanding and confidence.” He called Melton’s performance “the great discovery of the film.” Plus, the director says, “he agreed to put on 35 pounds to look more like a suburban guy.”

Melton praised his filmmaker, saying “It’s rare to find someone who trusts in you more than you trust in yourself. My legs are shaking right now.”

A stylishly dressed Harris, who closed out the night, had to shush the rowdy crowd at least twice before toasting Wilson as a “queen” and “someone who means the world to me and many others.”

As Wilson graced the stage, she said “I think the sentiment of seeing promise in an actor is wonderful and beautiful.” She still seemed in disbelief about attending the festival for “Dial of Destiny” alongside Harrison Ford. “I was in ‘Indiana Jones,’ that’s insane.”

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Paramount Spends $500 Million a Year for Taylor Sheridan Shows – IndieWire – Armessa Movie News

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Before we get into the extraordinary expenses being accrued in the Taylor Sheridan-verse, according to an article published in the Wall Street Journal, let’s take a moment to appreciate the timing: The piece dropped the morning after Paramount Global’s fairly disastrous Q1 earnings report, one that saw a $511 million loss in streaming, a stock price plunge of nearly 28 percent, and inspired a Wells Fargo analyst to strongly suggest that the corporation would be wise to pack it in on streaming altogether.

Hollywood is infamous for coddling its stars, but Sheridan is different: He’s single-handedly responsible for five shows that represent the backbone of Paramount+ (with at least five more in development) and he oversees a small industry that supports it, none of which puts Paramount in the best place to say “no.” (Also this morning, Paramount confirmed “Yellowstone” will conclude after five seasons, with a spinoff starring Matthew McConaughey.)

According to the WSJ, Paramount spends more than $500 million a year on the production of Sheridan’s series, which include “1923,” “1883,” “Tulsa King,” and “Mayor of Kingstown.” (The publication cited the per-episode price tag for “1923” as at least $22 million.) Among its expenses are herds of cattle at $25 a head, over $200,000 for a week-long “cowboy camp,” and paying Harrison Ford’s flight insurance for his hobby of flying prop planes.

Many of Sheridan’s series are filmed on the historic 142,372-acre Four Sixes ranch, which he owns with a consortium of partners including David Glasser’s production company, 101 Studios, which produces the shows.

“He is not writing ‘shoot at my ranch’ in the script. Those demands are never made. When the [line producer] or I go to Taylor and ask him to cut a day out of the schedule for budget purposes, he is more than willing to accommodate,” 101 Studios president Glasser told WSJ. “However, when a line producer comes in and says, ‘Why don’t you cut the river crossing sequence out of the show on “1883,”‘ that for sure will be something he is prepared to lock horns over.”

The first season of “Yellowstone,” which aired in 2018, was expected to cost $7 million per episode. By the end of production, it was more than $20 million over budget due to script and production delays, and with only nine episodes and not the expected 10 to 11. The latest season of “Yellowstone” had a budget of $12 million per episode but ballooned to more than several million dollars over expected costs.

Neither Paramount nor Sheridan responded to IndieWire’s request for comment on the WSJ story. There’s never a good time to detail the massive costs that go into producing the most successful shows on a money-losing streamer, but Sheridan has made clear that he considers the show’s investment in authenticity to be essential to its success.

In a February 1 keynote conversation with National Cattleman’s Beef Association president Don Schiefelbein at the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention, Sheridan said that by using the same high-quality jeans, or saddles, or riding bits favored by actual ranchers, he knew he could attract the attention of the real-life ranchers.

“I wanted it to be real and authentic and I wanted a bunch of cowboys to watch it,” he said. “If I could do [that], I could get everybody to watch it… [Now] there’s a Boot Barn on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, and I put it there.”

He also discussed buying the Four Sixes ranch, which was listed at $350 million in December 2021; Sheridan’s investor group bought the property in May 2022 for $192.2 million. Had he not bought the ranch, Sheridan told Schiefelbein, the Sheridan-verse might never have happened at all.

“My plan was to retire and just run these movie horses and show horses,” he said. “[I told my wife], it’s gonna change that. I’m going to have to go to the network and make a big overall deal with them and write a whole bunch of TV shows for them in order to pull this off.” Sheridan renewed and extended his overall deal with Paramount, which now runs through 2028, in February 2021.

Added Sheridan, “There’s nothing better than a movie company showing up and filming for about a month and paying you a bunch of money and leaving. It’s about the greatest deal going.”

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Yellowstone Star Says Taylor Sheridan Already Knows How Series Will End – Armessa Movie News

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Season 5 of ‘Yellowstone’ will return this summer with Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, and more.


Actor Wes Bentley has revealed Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan has already planned how the series will come to an end, despite the show going strong. The actor spoke about what he thinks is in store for his character, as well as sharing what it is like to work with Sheridan on the neo-western drama.


Speaking at the Screen Actors Guild headquarters in Los Angeles on Friday, as reported by Deadline, Bentley revealed Sheridan already knows how Yellowstone will finish. “He has said to me, he knows how he wants to end it,” Bentley, who stars in the drama as aspiring politician Jamie Dutton, said. He went on to explain that it didn’t necessarily mean Sheridan knew how many episodes or how many seasons would be needed to get to that point. “That was a while ago. I’m sure he didn’t know how we were going to get there but he knows how.” Yellowstone is still going strong with five seasons already airing, as well as three spin-offs, 1883, 1923, and 6666 (set to premiere later this year).

As part of this revelation, Bentley spoke about what he thinks is in store for his character. “I’m not a Dutton,” Bentley said when asked if he thought his character would die, referring to Jamie’s status as John (Kevin Costner) and Evelyn’s (Gretchen Mol) adopted son. He went on to say that he’s already given up and planned a life for his son without him. “I don’t think he’s playing a game here. He does want to see something left for his son. I think he has seen himself [dead] from before the beginning of the season,” Bentley explained. “He’s already end-gamed what is happening to him. He knows what’s coming, and he’s trying to get what he can out of it by making some moves and taking opportunities.”

yellowstone-season-5-episode-1-kevin-costner-kelly-reilly-wes-bentley
Image via Paramount Network

RELATED: First-Look at Timothy Dalton’s Nefarious Arrival in ‘1923’ [Exclusive]

Bentley also revealed that he believes his character’s most recent actions are justified. “Is he just holding onto power or is he actually trying to do something with the land?” Bentley said, referring to his character calling for his father’s impeachment in the mid-season finale. “I think Jamie has valid questions about a lot of things and that’s what’s complicated about him. He has a good argument.” Bentley did admit, however, that he can see why not everyone likes Jamie. “He doesn’t go about it the right way necessarily, or I guess in ways people hate, but it’s his way and it’s who he is.”

In the same panel, Bentley’s co-stars, Dawn Olivieri (who plays Sarah Atwood) and Gil Birmingham (Thomas Rainwater), revealed what it is like working with Taylor. “I gotta tell you, when the director-writer doesn’t share with you how to act, the first feeling is complete insecurity,” Oliveri said, talking about the first time she worked with Taylor on the set of 1883, in which she played James Dutton’s (Tim McGraw) sister, Claire Dutton. “Because you’re like, ‘oh my God, I sound terrible. I’m doing a terrible job. He hasn’t said one word to me at all, and I must be messing up. He is just thinking how he can fire me, right?’” Oliveri conceded that this insecurity turned out to be a blessing, urging her to give the best performance possible. “But that insecurity is real magic because it gives you this extra force that you didn’t have when you started.”

Similarly, Birmingham recounted that Taylor simply told him “we’re gonna golf today” for one scene, which was filmed without blocking first. “So we muddle through it [pretending to play golf] and I say, ‘oh, he’s gonna come out and fix it.’ He never came out. I said, ‘Danny, I think we’re on our own.’ So we had to direct ourselves for this whole scene,” Birmingham said.

Seasons 1–4 of Yellowstone are currently streaming on Peacock (for Peacock Premium users) and Peacock Premium Plus. In the meantime, check out the official trailer for Season 5’s mid-season return.

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The Railway Children – US Trailer – Jenny Agutter, Sheridan Smith, Tom Courtenay – A group of children who are evacuated to a Yorkshire village during the Second World War, where they encounter a young soldier who, like them, is far away from home.- Playlists

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The Railway Children – US Trailer – Jenny Agutter, Sheridan Smith, Tom Courtenay – A group of children who are evacuated to a Yorkshire village during the Second World War, where they encounter a young soldier who, like them, is far away from home.

Railway Children | Official U.S. Trailer | Blue Fox Entertainment

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