A month after IndieWire revealed that original “24” executive producers Howard Gordon, Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran were mapping out a new version of the real-time series in the vein of the original — set inside the world of counterintelligence — now the plot of their script can be revealed: It’s a prequel that follows a young Jack Bauer as he enters the world of the CTU.
The “24” prequel would allow the producers to bring back the beloved character without original star Kiefer Sutherland having to once again suit up as Bauer, a role that had become physically demanding after nine seasons and a reunion limited series. The new “24” prequel also wouldn’t be 24 episodes, Gordon told IndieWire last month, but would be a shorter order, much like the recent “24: Legacy” spinoff.
The “24” prequel is one of two new versions of the real-time format being developed simultaneously for Fox — either of which could ultimately make it on the air.
Gordon is also working on a legal-themed “24” show with Jeremy Doner (“The Killing”), about a female prosecutor who uncovers a legal conspiracy and has to work against the clock to save a death row inmate facing imminent execution. Now, Surnow and Cochran (the original co-creators of “24”) may ultimately be involved in that one too. 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV continue to be involved as the franchise’s respective studio and production company.
“We’re pursuing both tracks simultaneously,” Gordon told IndieWire in June. “We’re kicking both around, and [Surnow and Cochran] will be involved with anything they have the patience and energy for.”
He added that the two tracks aren’t mutually exclusive. “It is a format that we still believe is a great way to tell a story,” Gordon said. “I’m re-watching with my 13-year-old now, and it’s amazing to see that it still works. I’ll look back and forget most of what happened and go, ‘wow, that was really good!'”
Fox TV Group chairman Dana Walden told reporters in May that the network was “pretty excited” about the new “24” idea, without revealing that it was a prequel. “It’s premature, it’s too early to announce it, but they’ve been working and ideating around where the show wants to live next,” she said.
It was the prequel idea that brought Gordon and Surnow together to discuss reuniting the exec producing partnership. “[The] idea aroused our curiosities officially to have a second conversation. We’ve been taking a couple of runs at it. It’s still a process and it’s still in development. But it’s hard to say. We hope to get at something sooner rather than later, but it’s been humbling.”
At the time, he said they trio was also “very mindful of not doing it just to do it,” he said. “Just as a piece of business. I think we feel close enough to the show so that we are trying to find a way that makes it worth doing and not just to do it for the sake of doing it. And that’s challenging, but we’re definitely putting our heads together.”
“24” initially aired from 2001 to 2010. The show returned four years later with “24: Live Another Day,” a limited series that brought back Jack Bauer. Then came the sequel series “24: Legacy,” which ran in 2017.