'Clarice' to End After One Season on CBS, Maybe the Lambs Will Stop Screaming
The lambs may finally stop screaming. Clarice will reportedly end after just one season on CBS, after talks stalled on the Silence of the Lambs prequel’s planned move from CBS to Paramount+. Now, it seems that move has been nixed, and Clarice is doomed to be thrown at the bottom of a hole alongside so many other one-season shows.
Deadline reports that Clarice will end after one season, after negotiations between Paramount+ and co-producer MGM, which would have moved the series to the streamer like CBS’ Evil, reached a stalemate. Per Deadline, “there is no viable path for Clarice to continue on CBS as the broadcast network already committed to a full slate of series for next season.” Which means, Clarice is effectively canceled.
Here’s Deadline’s report on just how those talks broke down, even when the drama had been performing strongly on Paramount+ amid its low TV ratings:
Industry veterans describe this as one of the craziest situations they have seen, where a show with a Season 2 pickup is facing a demise and the prospect of putting 300 people out of work. It involves a marquee IP, Silence of the Lambs; a top producer, Alex Kurtzman; a recently merged company, ViacomCBS; and an about-to-be merged studio, MGM, which is in the process of being acquired by Amazon.
Depending who you talk to, MGM either abruptly stopped good-faith negotiations that were closing in on an agreement, or the studio opted to walk away after being offered a “mediocre” deal it could not accept.
MGM and the Confusing The Silence of the Lambs Rights
MGM holds the rights to all the characters originating in the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs, including Clarice Starling, her colleague Ardelia Mapp (Devyn Tyler), Deputy Assistant Attorney General Paul Krendler (Michael Cudlitz), the late serial killer Buffalo Bill, and a number of others. All other Hannibal characters, including the cannibal doctor himself, remain with the Dino De Laurentiis Company. This confusing division of rights is why Bryan Fuller’s NBC show Hannibal could never feature Clarice Starling, and why CBS’ Clarice was never be able to even mention Hannibal Lecter by name.
This division of rights is what led to the stall in discussions between ViacomCBS, Paramount+, and CBS Studios, which “made most — if not all — of the concessions MGM asked for in the business terms, but MGM still would not agree to a deal,” per Deadline. Because CBS Studios had to pay an expensive license fee for the rights to Clarice, which Deadline reports went from $1.2 million-$1.3 million an episode at CBS, to $3.8 million an episode at Paramount+, that’s where the ViacomCBS streamer balked. Paramount+ also offered only 10 episodes, while MGM asks for a minimum guarantee of 15 episodes per season.
There were further issues that boiled down to MGM vs. Paramount+. By becoming a Paramount+ original, Clarice would not be able to pursue an off-network streaming deal in the U.S., due to MGM’s handling of international sales for the series. Additionally, MGM requested to get a second window for Clarice on its own premium network Epix, but Paramount+ sought to put a multi-year hold on episodes.
All this happens while Amazon and MGM is undergoing their merger, though Deadline notes the acquisition “is not believed to have played a direct role in MGM’s decision not to agree for the show to move to Paramount+” which would naturally compete with Amazon’s Prime Video. In the end, it seems Clarice was just another victim led to the slaughter of increasingly complicated licensing issues.
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