That’s a good question, right? It’s linear TV’s No. 1 series, despite airing on Paramount Network, an outlet that few could name or find. And it’s spawned the hit streaming spinoffs 1883 and 1923, with more on the way. It’s not Law & Order or even NCIS-valuable, at least not yet. But on Tuesday, an L.A. judge is scheduled to hold a key hearing in an under-the-radar legal fight that could expose the Yellowstone windfall, as well as provide new insights into the machinations of various executives after the downfall of Harvey Weinstein.
This all stems from a fraud and breach of contract case brought back in 2018 by investor Ron Burkle against Lantern Capital Partners, the Texas buyout shop that took the Weinstein Co. assets out of bankruptcy during that chaotic period after Harvey was accused of multiple rapes. Burkle, a FOH (Friend of Harvey), was a big TWC investor, so he thought his Yucaipa shingle had the inside track on the deal. Then Lantern appeared interested, so Burkle allegedly considered a partnership. But the New York A.G. threatened to block any deal, TWC filed for bankruptcy, and Lantern, allegedly using confidential information it obtained from Yucaipa, acquired TWC’s assets for $289 million and cut Burkle out.
Burkle was furious, so he sued Lantern and Spyglass, which bought the TWC library and eventually engineered a transaction that laundered the Harvey stink and deposited the films—minus some big assets it lost in the process, like Paddington and Boys in the Boat, which Clooney is now directing—with Lionsgate, screwing some creative partners in the process. (I wrote about that effort here.) The Burkle suit claims Yucaipa had a side agreement with Lantern that gave it fees from the TWC deal. That amounts to an $80 million or so damages claim, and the trial is finally slated for December.