Ted Tally graduated from Yale College and received his masters of fine arts degree in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. During the 1970’s and most of the 1980’s, he honed his playwriting skills in theater. Terra Nova was first produced for the Yale Repertory Theatre, winning both an Obie in New York and the Drama-Logue award in Los Angeles. The play is loosely based on Scott’s journal, which was found along with his frozen body. Regional theaters regularly produce Terra Nova, and Tally adapted the play for television in 1984.
Tally is primarily known for his screenwriting. His best-known work is his 1991 screenplay of Thomas Harris’s novel, The Silence of the Lambs (1988), for which he won an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. The Silence of the Lambs, like Terra Nova, articulates the inner psychology of its central character, Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Clarisse, who, like Scott, must come to terms with her own ambition and psychological fears. It is interesting to note that both The Silence of the Lambs and Terra Nova contain gender issues that suggest possibilities for further exploration. Both Clarisse and Kathleen are intelligent and strong women operating successfully in male-dominated milieus.