Most hit shows begin to see their ratings and awards recognition erode by Season 4. But for “Yellowstone,” it’s only beginning. With a SAG Awards nomination for drama ensemble — the show’s first major kudos nod — executive producer David Glasser told Variety on Wednesday that he, showrunner Taylor Sheridan and the other keepers of the growing “Yellowstone” enterprise are ready to capitalize on the moment.
“It’s now an ‘all of U.S.’ show,” said Glasser, who’s the CEO of 101 Studios. “It definitely hit the middle [of the country] in the beginning and then spread out. And that’s great, because I think there’s still a lot of audience to grow… What started with my friends in Nashville and Texas calling me, now all of a sudden my friends in New York and LA and San Francisco and Miami are calling. And so I think the show’s got incredible legs.”
The SAG Awards recognizing “Yellowstone” first makes sense, given the wide, cross-country membership of SAG-AFTRA. “SAG voters are everywhere, and that’s great representation,” Glasser said. “We could not be happier for the show to get the recognition that we truly believe it deserves. It’s just truly a great ensemble, so I think it’s the perfect sort of launching point for the show.”
“Yellowstone” launched on Paramount Network in 2018, and has seen its audience steadily climb up through this most recent Season 4. The show just wrapped the season with a finale that attracted a series best 10.3 million viewers; it’s the only scripted cable show among the top telecasts of 2021; and now it has spawned a Taylor Sheridan Creative Universe, including spinoffs “1883” and “6666.” (Sheridan is also behind Paramount Plus’ “Mayor of Kingstown,” which exists outside of the “Yellowstone” world.)
“I think this universe as we’ve seen, with the success of ‘1883,’ it can grow and it can have other offshoots and build out a world around it,” Glasser said. “We’re going to keep our head down and keep making the content and hopefully audiences and our peers will recognize it the way they have been. Taylor and I focus on the work. We’ve been on ‘1883’ since July, which was no easy task, making a show about the 1800s where you had literally three sets that were interior and the rest of it was exterior. So we haven’t had much time to focus on anything else.”
Glasser talked to Variety from the 6666 ranch in Texas, where “1883” wraps production on Season 1 this Saturday, and work on “6666” is well underway.
“For us we’re out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of fields on a ranch finishing a show right now,” Glasser said. “So, it’s been pretty special when you get a little message from home that the nominations came in.”
“Yellowstone” centers on the story of a multi-generational family that controls the largest contiguous ranch in the U.S. Kevin Costner, Luke Grimes, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, Cole Hauser, Kelsey Asbille, Brecken Merrill, Jefferson White, Forrie Smith, Denim Richards, Ian Bohen, Finn Little, Ryan Bingham, Gil Birmingham and Will Patton star, while Jacki Weaver, Piper Perabo and Kathryn Kelly joined the cast as guest stars in Season 4.
“It’s the prime of the show,” Glasser said. “I think the show is still maturing, and there’s still a lot of story to tell. I know with Taylor, he’s got a lot to say and a lot to write. He’s deep into Season 5 of ‘Yellowstone’ now. He’s got some incredible ideas that he shared that I think audiences are going to be really excited about.”
Glasser expects production to resume on “Yellowstone” in May, with Season 5 likely to air in the fall.
As for the future of the franchise, Glasser said beyond the large stable of series, merchandising has been growing — both via outdoor vendors at road shows, county fairs and equine events, and also via sellers including Amazon and Walmart. Launched last month, the official “Yellowstone” podcast, hosted by series regular Jefferson White, has featured cast members, and will include Sheridan later this month. And looking beyond the pandemic, experiential events and conventions have been discussed.
“As long as it’s authentic and can be done in a super high-end way,” Glasser said. “I think Taylor’s approach of authenticity first has really worked well for us and will sort of continue that. As you can imagine, tons of opportunities have come to Paramount and to us and we’re looking at all of them, and we want to talk to our audience in the best way possible.”