When you think of the name Clarice Starling, it's hard not to picture Jodie Foster, along with Anthony Hopkins as noted cannibal and serial killer Hannibal Lecter in 1991's The Silence of the Lambs. But as it turns out, CBS's new series Clarice — revolving around the young FBI profiler at the heart of Jonathan Demme's adaptation of Thomas Harris' novel of the same name — will not be mentioning her most famous consultant.
The reason? As reported by Entertainment Weekly, the rights to Harris' characters have been divided between MGM and the Dino De Laurentiis Company. Thus, the CBS show will be able to feature all the characters that NBC's Hannibal was unable to during its three-season run. This includes the titular Clarice herself (Rebecca Breeds), her crime-fighting colleague Ardelia Mapp (Devyn Tyler), Deputy Assistant Attorney General Paul Krendler (Michael Cudlitz), and serial killer Buffalo Bill — the very reason for her team up with Lecter in the first place — among others. So while Clarice's experiences with Hannibal do inform her past within the new series, and he does still remain at large, he will not, and cannot be mentioned by name.
"I'm still trying to understand how the rights are divided," Clarice executive producer Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Picard) tells EW. "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."
One way around this for the series is that it's set in 1993, one year after the events of Demme's film (and seven years before the film Hannibal), thus giving Clarice a little space from it as she focuses on her next case — especially with the show also incorporating several real-world events that took place within six months, including the sieges at Waco and Ruby Ridge, and the first World Trade Center bombing. "The FBI has just had their asses handed to them, and that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on Clarice and all the characters in the FBI building," says Kurtzman.
So it's safe to say that tracking down Lecter isn't the first thing on Clarice's mind when the show starts off, as instead, she'll be tackling a different kind of serial killer. One that Kurtzman describes as "an entity that represents something that we deal with in our lives all the time," before going on to add, "It's a more expanded, nuanced, complicated, and topical version of a serial killer."
Clarice is executive produced by Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet. It makes its way onto CBS on Feb. 11.