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The Watchman: CBS Shakes Up the ‘Silence’; How ‘Idol’ Stays Vital

Clarice on CBS
‘Clarice’ on CBS (Image credit: Brooke Palmer/CBS)

Clarice starts on CBS Feb. 11. It’s a deep dive into the story of FBI agent Clarice Starling, one year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs

Rebecca Breeds plays Clarice. 

“In The Silence of the Lambs, she was somehow able to go down into the dark and find the human and the monsters and then pull out the light,” executive producer Jenny Lumet said.  “And I thought, as I watched her, ‘This is a woman with a lot of secrets. I like that.’ ”

Breeds spoke of the challenges Starling sees in the workplace. “She’s come into this new job and this guy will just not take her seriously,” she said. “She’s worked so hard to be here and she just wants to be given her shot.”

Executive producer Alex Kurtzman described himself as a “crazy, rabid fan” of the film, directed by Jonathan Demme. “As we were writing it, the tagline for the show, which we had in our minds, kept pushing itself to the foreground: ‘The Silence Is Over.’ ”

Lionel Richie on ABC's American Idol

Lionel Richie on ABC’s American Idol (Image credit: ABC/John Fleenor)

Season four of ABC’s American Idol is on Feb. 14. This season’s talent came to be after virtual auditions amidst the pandemic.

Zoom “custom created” a platform for the singing hopefuls, said Trish Kinane, executive producer and showrunner. Auditions happened in all 50 states, and everyone got time in front of a producer. Former contestants, including David Cook and Justin Guarini, offered the singers audition tips as they waited to perform. 

“You really were getting your voice heard,” Kinane said. “We got to see a much greater diversity of talent.”

The at-home auditions also offered a unique glimpse at the singers. “We also got to see houses and dogs and moms,” Kinane said. 

Singers invited to Hollywood will connect with friends and family via a 180-degree video screen, since loved ones could not accompany them.  

Asked what has enabled Idol to stick around for 19 seasons, Kinane mentioned its uplifting vibe, viewer votes and basic format. She called American Idol “a simple Cinderella story.”

It may stick around for a bit longer. “Kids are turning 15 every day,” Kinane said. “So there’s always new talent coming up.”

Fox Visits the Last Frontier 

The Great North rolls on Fox Feb. 14. An animated comedy about a family dealing with the elements, and each other, in Alaska, it has Nick Offerman, Will Forte, Megan Mullally and Alanis Morissette in the voice cast. Morissette is an imaginary friend to daughter Judy. Teen girls “want someone in their life to speak about their dreams to,” said Lizzie Molyneux-Logelin, who runs the show with sister Wendy. 

Morissette was in right away. “She’s a musical icon,” Molyneux-Logelin said. “But she’s also a really funny person.”