Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me creator Bryan Fuller is actively developing two new TV series for NBC, based on well-established properties: Mockingbird Lane, a rebooted take on 1960s classic The Munsters, and Hannibal, a TV show that catches up with Thomas Harris' iconic serial killer character, pre-Red Dragon (but post-Hannibal Rising).
NBC has prioritized Hannibal for a premiere this fall, pushing the release of Mockingbird Lane back to 2013. The pilot episode for the former has officially secured a helmer in David Slade, to work alongside Fuller and co-executive producer Martha DeLaurentiis (who owns the screen rights to the Hannibal Lecter character).
Hugh Dancy (The Big C) will co-star in Hannibal as FBI agent Will Graham - previously featured in Red Dragon and Manhunter - during his early days at the agency, when he forms a solid working relationship with Dr. Hannibal Lecter while collaborating on a variety of serial killer cases. Details beyond that are sketchy, though Slade (confirming his involvement via Twitter) describes Fuller's pilot script as "excellent and while there will be some [sic] re invention it's REALLY faithful to the Harris books."
Of course the major casting announcement for this series will concern that of Hannibal Lecter himself, since Anthony Hopkin's Oscar-winning portrayal of the deranged doctor in The Silence of the Lambs (and subsequent reprisals in the Hannibal movie and Red Dragon) is considered by most people to be the definitive portrait of the character.
Described from Clarice Starling's perspective in the original Silence of the Lambs novel as "small, sleek, and in his hands and arms she saw wiry strength like her own," the younger version of the Lecter character in Harris' literature reads as bearing the strongest physical resemblance to Gaspard Ulliel's version (as featured in Hannibal Rising). It stands to reason that Fuller's Hannibal series will likewise embrace that representation of the not-so-good doctor, when casting.
Slade reads as an excellent fit for helming the Hannibal pilot, based on his previous cinematic work in the horror-thriller genre (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night). Since directing the third installment in The Twilight Saga, Eclipse - widely considered the best film in that divisive franchise - Slade has also established himself as a skilled television helmer, having directed an episode on Breaking Bad, along with the pilots for new hit psycho-crime-thriller series Awake and the upcoming Lifetime psychological drama This American Housewife.
Between Fuller and Slade, there is some well-established talent working to bring the disturbing tale of Dr. Lecter to the small screen. NBC is banking on their names (in combination with the Hannibal character's enduring popularity) being sufficient to attract viewers to this series, which treads on somewhat unexplored territory with an overexposed (?) villain.
Channel heads aren't going for broke on Hannibal, though, seeing how they've only put in a 13-episode order for the show so far. That at least guarantees the series will be as complete as Fuller's previous short-lived television creations (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls).
We will keep you posted on the status of Hannibal, including when the title role has been cast.
Source: David Slade
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