CBS may be continuing the story of The Silence of the Lambs, but you may notice this new take is missing a major player. During a panel for Clarice at the Television Critics Association’s 2021 winter tour, creators and executive producers Jenny Lumet and Alex Kurtzman spilled on why Hannibal Lecter won’t be returning to TV.
“That character has been brought to life by extraordinarily talented artists. I can think of of three extraordinary actors and at least three to four extraordinary directors,” Lumet said. “Clarice has not been explored like that. Clarice has a depth and a mystery that we haven’t examined yet.”
“We knew of the obviously well-documented rights issues that would prevent — let’s just call him Hannibal Lecter — from being on the show,” Kurtzman added. The series has been at the center of a complicated licensing struggle. Because CBS owns the rights to the novel The Silence of the Lamb, they can create Clarice, a crime drama that focuses on FBI Academy student Clarice Starling a year after the events of the film. But the rights to the three Hannibal Lecter novels, Red Dragon, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising, belong to NBC. As a result CBS is creating a drama about a newly famous detective without her star criminal. That disconnect between Clarice Starling’s reputation and her actual self is kind of the point.
“I was an incredible fan of the show. Obviously we’re crazy, we’re rabid fans of The Silence of the Lambs. It has been explored in great depth by so many people,” Kurtzman explained. “As we were writing it was that the tagline of the show kept pushing itself to the foreground, which is ‘The silence is over.’ I think that that meant she had not spoken in 30 years and it was her time to speak now. That was our compass. That’s what led us. That’s what we wanted to do. We really didn’t want to tread territory that had been done so well by so many others.”
Clarice premieres on CBS Thursday, February 11 at 10/9c p.m.
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