Kiefer Sutherland charged with assault

'24' star allegedly head-butted Jack McCollough at a nightclub

Kiefer Sutherland has been charged with assault for allegedly head-butting a clothing designer at a nightclub Monday night. Charges were filed after Sutherland spoke to investigators Thursday at a police station in Manhattan.

The "24" star reported to the precinct house alongside his lawyers but did not give a statement.

Any legal penalty could affect production on the eighth season Fox's "24," which is set to begin at month's end. Season 7 was delayed because of the writers strike, resulting in the show skipping a full year.

One source close to Sutherland dismissed the matter as being overblown by the media and said they expect any penalty to be minor enough to allow the actor to start production on schedule. Fox, "24" producer 20th TV and Sutherland's publicist had no comment.

Details about what exactly happened Monday night remain sketchy, with Sutherland's rep saying fashion designer Jack McCollough rudely bumped into actress Brooke Shields while she was talking to the actor at the event. Sutherland demanded an apology, then head-butted McCollough.

Shields' rep, however, told one publication that's not exactly what happened: "Nothing happened to her. ... Jack did nothing inappropriate. It's not clear what caused Kiefer to do what he did."

The designer has been quoted as saying Sutherland was intoxicated and told People magazine, "All we can say at this point is that (McCollough) was the victim of a vicious, violent, unprovoked assault and that the matter is in the hands of the authorities."

Sutherland is on parole for a 2007 DUI conviction in California. He was put on five years' probation after serving 48 days in jail for driving under the influence and was on probation for a 2004 drunken-driving charge at the time.

The Los Angeles city attorney's office reportedly is trying to determine whether Sutherland violated the terms of his parole.

"Part of his probation is likely to obey all laws, so the judge in L.A. will look closely at the New York case," said criminal defense attorney Richard Hirsch, who added that a penalty might be more harsh if Sutherland was intoxicated during the skirmish. "He can send him back to jail, sentence him to community service -- that's all negotiable and would depend on the outcome in New York."

Matthew Belloni and the Associated Press contributed to this report.