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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 11:39 GMT
Lambs 'in doubt' without Foster

Foster wants to concentrate on her own project

The studio behind hit film Silence of the Lambs could drop plans for a sequel if Jodie Foster does not take part in it, according to a US magazine.

Executives at Universal Pictures have been trying to secure the cast and production team for a film version of novelist Thomas Harris's Silence of Lambs sequel Hannibal for some months.

But, following Foster's recent decision to turn down the new movie to concentrate on her own project, the magazine Entertainment Weekly quotes Universal chairman Stacey Snider as saying she now wants to end speculation on the film's future.

"In the next two or three weeks, we have to make a decision," she said.

Foster, 37, said last week that she would not be reprising her Oscar-winning role as FBI agant Clarice Starling because it would conflict with her plans to direct Claire Danes in her own production.

No action plan

Universal officials admitted the studio had been caught off guard by the actress's decision since it came while most of the staff were on their Christmas break.

"The studio is just back from the holiday and is regrouping based on the news, and has no cohesive game plan at the moment," said a spokeswoman.

Foster stars in Anna and the King
But she added that the studio had no plans "to lure Jodie Foster back with more money or a new script".

Foster - who is currently starring in an epic remake of the 1946 movie Anna and the King - has been hesitating over taking part in Hannibal since before Christmas.

Last month, she said that she did not want to play the new part written for Clarice Starling because it had "negative attributes" and "betrayed" the original character.

She later issued a statement saying that she would still consider reprising the role if a suitable screenplay could be found.

Winning threesome

The project Foster has since set her heart on would see her directing Romeo and Juliet star Claire Danes in Flora Plum. Danes, 20, has taken a year off from her studies to make the film.

Oscar-winning Hopkins is keen to meet Hannibal again
Universal is developing Hannibal with producer Dino De Laurentiis. He reportedly paid more than $9m for the film rights to Harris's follow-up story of the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter.

But Foster's decision to bow out of the project currently leaves the studio without two of its original key players. Director Jonathan Demme - who won an Oscar for the first film - rejected an offer to take on Hannibal in June.

Sir Anthony Hopkins - who also won an Oscar for his chilling portrayal of the flesh-eating Hannibal - has, on the other hand, said he is keen to reprise his role again, if the money is right.

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See also:
29 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Foster passes on Lambs sequel
08 Nov 99 |  Entertainment
What's eating Jodie Foster?
05 Apr 99 |  Entertainment
Hannibal hungry for money
08 Jun 99 |  Entertainment
Hannibal makes a killing

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