Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan is joining forces with Selma actor David Oyelowo to bring the story of Bass Reeves, the first Black deputy U.S. Mashal west of the Mississippi River, to life. Bass Reeves will be the first project produced under a new exclusive overall deal Yoruba Saxon signed with ViacomCBS and MTV Entertainment Studios Thursday. Yoruba Saxon is the production shingle run by Oyelowo and his wife, actress Jessica Oyelowo. The two will work with 101 Studios as a production partner.
Sheridan, who also has a production deal with ViacomCBS signed on as a producer for the Bass Reeves project. Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, is expected to play Reeves himself. Reeves was born a slave in Arkansas in 1838. At some point during the Civil War, Reeves left his enslaver. In 1875, Reeves became a deputy U.S. marshal, working in Arkansas, Texas, and the Indian Territory. He reportedly arrested over 3,000 felons and died in 1910 at age 71.
"The stories Jess and I want to tell are boundary-busting and full of folks the likes of whom we have seldom seen on screen," Oyelowo said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter Thursday. "The extraordinary story of Bass Reeves exemplifies just that. To collaborate with world-class talent like Taylor Sheridan to tell those stories to the widest audience possible, is our dream, and we believe that can and will be realized through the shared ambitions we have with ViacomCBS and its signature branded platforms, alongside our seasoned and brilliant producing partners at 101 Studios."
"David and Jessica are incredibly talented artists and we're excited to develop our Bass Reeves project together with them and our phenomenal partner Taylor Sheridan," Chris McCarthy, president, and CEO of MTV Entertainment Group, added. "As the first Black deputy U.S. marshal west of the Mississippi River, Reeves' story is monumental, and this limited series will bring to light one of the greatest frontier heroes in our country's history."
Sheridan's involvement in the Western series isn't a surprise considering his past work in the genre. He earned an Oscar nomination for his Hell or High Water (2016) script and also co-created the modern-day Western series Yellowstone with John Linson for ViacomCBS' Paramount Network. Yellowstone Season 4 is set to premiere on Sunday, Nov. 7 with two episodes.
Sheridan also created the prequel series 1883, featuring Faith Hill and Tim McGraw as the ancestors of Kevin Costner's Yellowstone character John Dutton. The series, which also features Sam Elliott, will debut on Paramount+ on Sunday, Dec. 19. Mayor of Kingston, which Sheridan created with Hugh Dillon, will debut on Paramount+ on Nov. 14. Mayor of Kingston stars Jeremy Renner, whom Sheridan directed in Wind River (2017).