Yellowstone fans have dealt with a year-long drought, and still have eons upon eons to wait until the final episodes arrive in November, and that’s assuming the 2024 TV schedule avoids turning into a total shitstorm. And that’s ignoring all the other upcoming Yellowstone projects, including three spinoffs that have yet to officially cast any leads. So it’s perhaps understandable why my confidence in the franchise’s future is waning after Taylor Sheridan landed yet another new series.
What Is Taylor Sheridan's Latest TV Project?
Taylor Sheridan and his company Bosque Ranch Productions put in an “aggressive” effort during a bidding war to secure the right to option S.C. Gwynne’s 2010 historical account Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History. Sheridan will be producing alongside Jenny Wood, and Deadline points out that adapting the book has been a passion project for the western-loving filmmaker for years.
The book tells the overarching tale of the formidable Comanches’ rise and fall, while also honing in on the tale of the kidnapped Texan Cynthia Ann Parker and her son Quanah, who would grow up to serve as the tribe’s final chief, albeit its most revered one. Since its publication, Empire of the Summer Moon has earned widespread acclaim and serves as one of the most vivid and studied works on the storied nation, whose downfall came at the weaponized hands of the newly established Texas Rangers.
It’s a no-brainer why Sheridan would be into telling this story, especially after he helped finally bring Bass Reeves’ story to life in the first season of the anthology Lawmen. (The success of Killers of the Flower Moon probably didn't hurt.) Plus, the Four Sixes ranch that he now owns and films series at once held Quanah’s lance, which has since been transferred to a local museum, and also boasts a pair of antlers above a stone fireplace that came from a deer that Quanah himself killed.
Why Is This New Project Potentially Bad New For Yellowstone?
Namely, there are just too many shows on Taylor Sheridan’s plate for the majority of them to get produced, filmed and released with anything resembling timeliness. He’ll likely be spending a large portion of 2024 filming the final six Yellowstone episodes along with the second season of 1923, and the silver lining there for Sheridan’s workload is that both series will then be wrapped.
But then there’s the long-awaited 6666 spinoff that was first announced around the time that 1883 was coming together, which is supposed to have Jefferson White’s Jimmy as its lead. As well, viewers with Paramount+ subscriptions are also anticipating the latest of the prequels, 1944, announced back in November 2023, which seemingly hasn’t sparked any updates just yet.
It’s also unclear where things currently stand with the continuation spinoff 2024, which was unofficially set to introduce Matthew McConaughey into the Yellowstone-verse. The first week of January came with the disappointing rumor that progress is stalling out over contract negotiations, implying that the True Detective vet may pull out of the project if agreements aren’t made.
To be sure, it’s entirely possible that Taylor Sheridan may have someone completely different in mind to take the reins on Empire of the Summer Moon by way of writing, showrunning and directing. But considering it’s been a passion project for years, and considering how much he prefers to work alone, I certainly don’t expect him to bow out of the creative process. But it might be the only way the Dutton family saga ever finds its footing again.
Also, Empire of the Summer Moon sounds like a badass series that could stand right alongside Lawmen and 1883 as top-notch frontier TV, so here's hoping Sheridan doesn't wait around too long before making plans for it.