Fox's '24' Return Is Different From Film, Leaves Door Open for Reboot
Star Kiefer Sutherland, joined by fellow EPs and co-star Mary Lynn Rajskub, tells reporters where May's 12-episode event finds Jack Bauer and insists it is separate from other plans for the franchise.
Live Another Day, Fox's mini-revival of 24, has yet to start filming -- but Fox announced Monday that it will premiere May 5.
And as the return approaches, the network also trotted out stars Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub alongside the series' executive producers at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, where they spoke about the future of the series, how the format will shift with fewer episodes and if they're taking any cues from Homeland.
"If this ends up rebooting the show or causing a film to be made, so be it, but we're very happy about these 12 episodes right now," said Sutherland, who noted Live Another Day is not the same story as the long-delayed 24 feature. "The script for the film is very different. It's an ongoing situation, and there's always an opportunity to do it."
EP Howard Gordon said that the 12-episode run has been much more forgiving to the writers than the original series.
"Doing good stuff, stuff that you are proud of, takes time and effort. … The more time you have, the better you can craft each episode," he said. "We have every hope that we are going to maintain the quality we had, but it was a marathon. It was punishing. There's a horizon with this. With 24, you could never see the other side of the stories."
They have had time. Fox first announced the revival in May 2013, and while the London-based shoot hasn't begun, the writers have completed roughly half of the mini-season.
"The show still does take place over a 24-hour day even though it is 12 episodes," said EP Manny Coto, who added that certain hours of the day just won't be shown onscreen. "The show will be progressing in the same way it always did, and it will add up to 24."
Story-wise, the group did reveal several details about where the new run finds Sutherland's Jack Bauer. "If you remember at the end of season eight, Jack was basically left a fugitive," said Coto. "When we pick up four years later, he is still a fugitive. He's hunted."
He's being hunted by a CIA agent played by Yvonne Strahovski, whose casting broke earlier in the day. "The show will open with that dynamic," added Coto, "A CIA agent hunting Jack. He's not exactly Osama bin Laden, but he's a fugitive of high order."
Those hoping -- or fearing -- parallels to Carrie and Brody on Gordon's Homeland needn't worry. The producers shot down comparisons to TV's other fugitive-agent duo.
"The dynamic here resembles Carrie and Brody in no way at all," said Coto. "It wasn't that situation. When the show airs, you'll see the dynamic between the CIA and Jack. … He's more of a fugitive than anything else."
Rajskub's Chloe O'Brian is also not in the U.S. government's good graces. She is no longer working for CTU, instead playing an Edward Snowden-esque figure working against her home country.
"It has become a more complex world than when we started 24," said Gordon, suggesting drones will be another contemporary topic. "This is really about Jack and where he is 12 years later. We're going to introduce some exciting topics."
As for what Live Another Day means for 24's future on Fox, Sutherland said that he's not necessarily on board to star in a reboot. "When I said reboot, I never said I was a part of it," he said, to a few laughs. "There's a lot of fantastic characters. When we started the show, I said that the star was 24, the concept. I still believe that very strongly. If an audience were to latch on to a younger character who was helping my character, that would certainly be an option."
Still, his affection for the series and his alter ego seems to be evident. He mentioned several times that he was worried about screwing up 24's legacy.
"Until we start shooting, everything is kind of intangible and up in the air," said Sutherland. "I'm as anxious as I've been in a long time. I'm nervous."