After Yellowstone became a massive hit, it seems like the Paramount Network just can't be stopped. Now in its fifth season, Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan has not only expanded the Dutton family story with numerous spinoffs, including 1923, but debuted new shows ranging from Sylvester Stallone's western-gangster drama Tulsa King to Jeremy Renner's Mayor of Kingstown.
The actor-turned-writer/director has multiple incredible series currently in the works (more rumored Yellowstone prequels and a Texas spinoff included), but we're particularly excited about the spy drama he's created with Jill Wagner called Special Ops: Lioness. One of Sheridan's first big films he wrote was the military drama Sicario, so we already know that he has the knowledge to really take advantage of a show like this. With an all-star cast confirmed, including numerous faces that will be familiar to fans of the greater Yellowstone universe, Special Ops: Lioness is shaping up to be one of Sheridan's most memorable yet.
Here's everything we know about the new TV series.
A Taylor Sheridan Project
It's almost crazy to think that Sheridan was once a struggling actor because of how incredible his writing skills have proven to be across Yellowstone and the various films he's released in recent years. From what we know of the plot, Special Ops: Lioness seems to combine a bit of the drama and intensity from Sicario with the internal struggle we've seen with Kayce Dutton, a former Navy SEAL, in Yellowstone. We have no doubt that Sheridan will masterfully build this world and create some seriously high stakes week after week. It's kind of his thing.
This is just one of a slew of new shows coming from Sheridan...2020 and 2021 must have been jam-packed with work for the guy. Not only does he have Special Ops: Lioness in the works, but he's got more Yellowstone spinoffs following the success of the prequel series 1883 and 1923.
Jill Wagner Was a Co-Creator
Hallmark fans most likely recognize Wagner from her many holiday films as Mystery 101 series. But it was actually her idea she took to Sheridan to develop into a TV series. Naturally Sheridan was all over it and here we are. In addition to producing the series, Wagner will also have a role on camera, and she trained hard to look the part.
In an interview with The List, Wagner opened up about training for her role. "It's something that I'm training for right now," she said. "In fact, I get up every morning, and I train for about an hour and a half."
Considering this is a military-centered drama, we can only imagine that the subject matter is close to Wagner's heart. Her husband David, a former professional hockey player, is a major in the U.S. Army. In fact, the couple even named one of their daughters Army Gray.
What is 'Special Ops: Lioness' About?
The new show is executive-produced by Sheridan, Wagner, David Glasser, Ron Burkle, Bob Yari, and David Hutkin. Nicole Kidman and her production company Blossom Films have also signed on to executive produce, and Kidman will also be appearing on camera. This is one of two new shows he has in the works where Sheridan will be making one big change — he hired a writing staff. As he told Variety, he has a lot going on, so it's just not feasible for him to sit down and write every episode like he usually does when he's working on nine shows simultaneously.
At one point, Thomas Brady (known for the western series Hell on Wheels) was attached as showrunner for the series, overseeing the writers' room. Due to creative differences, Sheridan officially stepped in to take the lead.
The plot is centered around "a young Marine who is recruited to befriend a terrorist's daughter to bring the organization down from the inside." Sounds like some seriously heavy stakes and subject matter. Inspired by a real CIA initiative, it was actually Wagner herself who pitched the idea to Sheridan.
The show was originally slated for CBS All Access, but the streaming service went through a rebrand in early 2021 after the launch of Paramount Plus. There are so many exciting new Paramount TV shows in the works, especially everything Sheridan is working on.
Who's In The Cast?
Marvel star Zoe Saldaña stars in, and co-executive produces the new show. In an interview with Variety, Sheridan explained that he personally reached out to both Kidman and Saldaña to get them involved with the new series.
"I don't think anyone can speak to my projects better than me," Sheridan explained about of direct-dialing A-list stars to pitch his projects. "So I might as well just cut out the middleman and just call myself."
Additional casting updates have been revealed via Deadline, and it's really stacking up. Most notably, Sheridan has brought on a couple of vets from his other projects, including 1883 star LaMonica Garrett, Dave Annable, who played the short-lived Lee Dutton on Yellowstone, and James Jordan, who appeared in Yellowstone, 1883, and Mayor of Kingstown, in addition to two of Sheridan's films.
Here are all of the cast members and their roles:
Zoe Saldaña - Joe, a strong-willed, hard-nosed station chief of the CIA's Lioness Program who is tasked with training, managing and leading her female undercover operatives working to assassinate the world's most dangerous terrorists
Laysla De Oliveira - Cruz Manuelos, described as a rough-around-the-edges but passionate young Marine, who is recruited to join the CIA's Lioness Engagement Team to help bring down a terrorist organization from within.
Nicole Kidman - Kaitlyn Meade, the CIA's senior supervisor who has had a long career of playing the politics game
Jill Wagner - Bobby, a CIA Special Activities Division operative
Dave Annable - Neil, Joe's (Saldaña) husband and the father of their two daughters
LaMonica Garrett - Tucker, an experienced CIA Special Activities Division operative on Joe's team
James Jordan - Two Cups, an experienced CIA Special Activities Division operative on Joe's team
Austin Hébert - Randy, a tech specialist in charge of surveillance and gathering intelligence within the Strike Team of the CIA Special Activities Division operative
Jonah Wharton - Tex, a CIA Special Activities Division operative, part of Joe's team that includes Two Cups (Jordan), Tucker (Garrett) and Randy
Hannah Love Lanier - Kate, Joe (Saldaña) and Neil's (Annable) daughter
When will 'Special Ops: Lioness' premiere?
Special Ops: Lioness is set to premiere on Paramount+ on Sunday, July 23 and will air new episodes weekly.
READ MORE: 'Special Ops: Lioness' Cast: Meet the Star-Studded Cast of Taylor Sheridan's CIA Thriller
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