CBS is set to premiere a new TV series based on the Hannibal Lecter novels by Thomas Harris in 2021. Clarice will act as a sequel to the Oscar-winning The Silence of the Lambs and star FBI agent Clarice Starling. Famously, Jodie Foster’s character consulted with Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Lecter in the 1991 hit thriller, but don’t expect any appearance or even reference to the infamous cannibal in this series. The producers don’t even have the rights to mention him by name, let alone feature him on screen.
This news was confirmed by Entertainment Weekly’s preview of Clarice, which features a chat with EP Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Discovery). He admitted that he doesn’t fully understand the complicated rights issues surrounding Harris’ characters, but he did say that he and his writing team found it “freeing” to avoid Hannibal as he’s already been portrayed so many times before.
“I’m still trying to understand how the rights are divided,” Kurtzman said. “But it’s been quite liberating because we have no interest in writing about Hannibal — not because we didn’t love the films and the show, but because it was done so well by so many people that it didn’t feel fresh for us.”
Fans of NBC’s Hannibal will know that the Bryan Fuller show likewise couldn’t reference Clarice Starling. This was because the rights to The Silence of the Lambs are held by MGM, who are the ones behind Clarice. Fuller was trying to get some kind of deal going when NBC cancelled his acclaimed prequel series after three seasons, but it certainly doesn’t sound like Kurtzman has any interest in trying to receive clearance to use Hannibal.
Clarice stars Rebecca Breeds in the title role, with the rest of the cast including Michael Cudlitz, Lucca de Oliveira, Kal Penn and Nick Sandow. Set one year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs, it promises to be “a deep dive into the untold story” of the “brilliant and vulnerable” Clarice Starling. Look for it to premiere on CBS/All Access on Thursday, February 11th.