'24' Prequel From Original Series Creators Eyed at Fox

24 Kiefer Sutherland - Photofest - H 2018

Jack Bauer's next chapter may be an early one.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the next installment in the 24 franchise will be an ongoing prequel series that tells the origin story of how Jack Bauer became Jack Bauer. Original series creators Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran are said to be teaming on an idea for the character originally played by Kiefer Sutherland. Executive producer Howard Gordon is attached to the project and is working with Surnow and Cochran on the idea.

Surnow and Cochran are co-writing the script for what sources say could be an ongoing series rather than a closed-ended limited series like the most recent incarnations in the franchise, 24: Legacy and 24: Live Another Day. It's unclear when the series could be on the air, though there had been rumors in May that Fox could launch the new installment for midseason. Casting has not begun.

The last 24 installment — the Corey Hawkins-led Legacy — launched after the Super Bowl in 2017. After bowing with a massive ratings haul in TV's most-coveted time slot, ratings cooled and the 12-episode season wrapped with 6.3 million total viewers and a 1.7 in the demo (with seven days of DVR). Fox canceled the series but said at the time that the network was talking with producers including Gordon and Imagine's Brian Grazer for a new anthological take on the franchise.

Two months after that, Fox and producers 20th Century Fox Television co-president Dana Walden said the network and studio were in early talks with producers including Surnow for what they dubbed a "really exciting idea" that was "very compelling." The goal is to keep the show's "ticking clock" and sense of urgency and real-time storytelling and to apply it to something else.

"The next version of 24 probably will not be CTU, American Intelligence Agency. It will be some other venue using that same style but exploring it through a different mode," former Fox exec David Madden said at the time.

A valuable franchise for Fox, 24 initially ran for eight seasons before being revived with original star Kiefer Sutherland for the event series 24: Live Another Day. Legacy followed that, but it was built around Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton, The Walking Dead) and told a new story. Sutherland did not return but was credited as an executive producer. For his part, Sutherland's ABC drama Designated Survivor was canceled after two seasons and is near a deal for a third at Netflix. Sources told THR last year that Gordon flew back to the U.S. in April and early May in an effort to revive 24, with talks said to have included a pitch to save Legacy.

A 24 prequel would certainly be a welcome title for "New Fox." Following the Disney deal, the broadcast network is focusing on broad-skewing procedurals and multicamera comedies. An ongoing 24 with a new Jack Bauer would give it a recognizable franchise at a time when the network needs it the most.