'Silence of the Lambs' Spinoff 'Clarice' a Go at CBS

Clarice Starling - Publicity - H 2019
Orion/Photofest

CBS is looking to Clarice Starling to potentially anchor its 2020-21 broadcast season.

The network announced Sunday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour that it has handed out a sizable series commitment to a Silence of the Lambs TV spinoff called Clarice. The drama, which technically still needs a formal series pickup to move forward, hails from Star Trek franchise captain Alex Kurtzman and his CBS TV Studios-based Secret Hideout banner. Kurtzman will pen the script alongside Jenny Lumet, who also serves as co-showrunner on CBS All Access' Star Trek: Discover. Aaron Baiers will co-executive produce.

Sources say a writers room has been opened with a script already completed. The plan currently calls for a pilot to be produced before a formal series pickup. The project is a co-production between MGM TV, which owns the rights to Lambs, and CBS TV Studios.

The potential series takes place in 1993, a year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs. Clarice is described as a deep dive into the untold personal story of Clarice Starling — the role made famous by Jodie Foster in the 1991 feature — as she returns to the field to pursue serial murderers and sexual predators while navigating the high-stakes political world of Washington. An actress for the role has not been announced.

“After more than 20 years of silence, we’re privileged to give voice to one of America’s most enduring heroes — Clarice Starling,” Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet said in a joint statement announcing the news. “Clarice’s bravery and complexity have always lit the way, even as her personal story remained in the dark. But hers is the very story we need today: her struggle, her resilience, her victory. Her time is now, and always.”

This is the latest attempt to bring a slice of the Silence of the Lambs movie/novel to television. Lifetime in 2012 put into development a Starling-focused series that took place soon after she graduates from the FBI Academy. Additionally, NBC aired the Bryan Fuller-produced offshoot Hannibal for multiple seasons amid critical acclaim but few viewers. 

This is Kurtzman's latest high-profile series for the CBS family. In addition to overseeing multiple Star Trek series — including this month's highly anticipated debut of Patrick Stewart-led Picard, he also next has The Man Who Fell to Earth — all for CBS All Access — and still continues to exec produce the linear network's Hawaii Five-0 reboot.  Secret Hideout topper Heather Kadin exec produces all of the company's projects. 

Clarice is CBS' first sizable order for the 2020-21 broadcast season. While NBC and ABC have already started ordering pilots, CBS opted to enter the fray with a splash.