Nov. 16 – VENUS – Kevin Costner graced TV screens across America on Sunday night as the fifth season of “Yellowstone” aired. On Tuesday he was in Venus throwing a soccer ball around during a break in filming.
Crews and cast from Paramount Network were in town all Tuesday filming for a future episode of “Yellowstone.”
Rio Vista’s Dewayne Good was one of hundreds who came out to catch a glimpse of one of the show’s stars.
“Beth,” Good said, laughing when asked who he was hoping to see. “She’s just badass. But no, I like them all.”
After anxiously waiting all morning, all hopes were fulfilled as Costner, Gil Birmingham, Moses Brings Plenty and others literally took the stage.
The scene, which Paramount filmed, starred Costner as Governor John Dutton delivering a speech in Hardin, Montana.
On Friday, crews began moving into Montana vehicles and other equipment needed for filming. They worked almost all weekend preparing the facades of the buildings around the square.
“It’s kind of chilly weather like Montana, so I think it fits,” Burgess said Tuesday morning. “It would have been quite difficult if it was still 90 degrees.”
Costner gave fans a warm welcome as he emerged from his movie trailer. He even took the time to toss the pigskin around while the cops worked on crowd control in the breaks between takes.
Security was tight around the square as more and more people turned up to take a look at the square.
Mayor James Burgess had to throw away the mayor card to get onto the square.
“They didn’t really want to let me in,” he said, laughing. “I told them I won’t stand in their way, I just want to come here and experience it and be a part of it.”
How did the producers find Venus?
“[Paramount has] an advance team that goes out and explores places,” he said. “They came and looked at Venus and said they felt it would fit their scene.”
About a month ago, city officials received word that Venus had been chosen for the filming.
“It’s just a one-day shoot, while some of the previous ones took three, four days or weeks,” Burgess said. “I really don’t expect this to be an important part of the episode it’s in, but it’s exciting and brings a lot of attention to our small, historic town.”
This isn’t the first time the city of Venus has appeared on the big screen.
“Back when I was a kid we had ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ with Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty,” Burgess said. “They dressed up my uncle’s building as a grocery store and he got to play the person who robbed Clyde.”
In addition, The Trip to Bountiful, Born on the Fourth of July, episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger, and several commercials and music videos were filmed on the plaza.
Many film companies like the city’s old, rustic look, Burgess said.
“It gives the look that they want as a background,” he said.
Burgess said downtown business owners seem excited about the shooting, even though it may disrupt their normal operations for a day or so.
“A lot of people don’t even know Venus exists, and those who do, pass by on the freeway and never come out here and see historic Venus,” Burgess said. “Sometimes there are cities that die downtown because of traffic driving past them. That’s why I like ‘Yellowstone’. It’s so popular it sparks such interest and having ‘Yellowstone’ here brings awareness to our town.”
The city has been working to update the square with new touches – a walking path, benches, light poles, etc.
“Over the past few years we’ve really tried to prioritize the square itself, and now we’re hoping to partner with some of these downtown companies and renovate some of these buildings,” he said.
The hope is to keep this historical look as much as possible. The space is used for everything from Christmas and trunk or treats to farmers markets and Easter egg hunts.
A lifelong resident of Venus, Burgess served on the city council for 10 years and is in his 10th year as mayor.
“I graduated here in 1975 when we were still playing six-a-side football,” he said. “They are 4A now. At the time we were Class B sixes.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes. When I graduated high school, we had 419 employees. Now we are at 6,000 and it is forecast to be between 12 and 15,000 in the next five years, depending on the economic situation.”
City officials have visited growing cities like yours like Melissa and Anna.
“We’re trying to gather their experience so we know what to prepare for,” he said. “It’s a big challenge.”
And that challenge could come sooner rather than later, thanks to Yellowstone.