The “24” franchise isn’t dead yet. In fact, Jack Bauer is alive and kicking and looking younger than ever. Or that’s the plan, anyway.
At the Television Critics Association press tour on Thursday, Fox Chairman and CEO Gary Newman offered more details about the “24” prequel series as reported earlier this week. Showrunner Howard Gordon and original series co-creators Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran are working on a new iteration that will focus on a young Jack Bauer. The series is still only in the development phase.
“The method of telling a show set in real-time is unique to ’24,’ and we still think it has a lot of power and a lot of legs,” said Newman. “Really, ever since the show went off the air, we’ve talked about how do you reimagine ’24.’ The times are fraught now, these are emotional times. Security tends to be a big issue. So in terms of the prequel, people love Jack Bauer, and you would tell a story that I think the audience would pretty much connect with, having that character become who he was would be set in the same world of security, which I think continues to be very relevant.”
Newman added: “So I think regardless of a political climate, the time’s always right for a show of that type. We’ve got terrific writers involved who I’m sure will make it feel relevant at this particular time.”
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.
“The idea of moving that franchise from terrorism and security into the legal world is something we’ve talked about probably as far back as Season 3 or 4 of ’24,’ when from time to time it would be discussions of spinoffs,” Newman said of the legal show.
“We have to look for an arena where the stakes are high and time matters. So that particular show deals with an execution of a prisoner,” said Newman. “There’s just 24 hours left when the execution is supposed to take place. So the stakes are high. I think it potentially carries a lot of the same values you’d find in the old ’24’ of there are real emotional stakes involved.”
“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.”
One reporter expressed concerns about how “brown people” had been cast in the villainous roles in the past and whether or not Fox has had discussions to culturally diversify the bad guys for the prequel.
“We really haven’t [discussed it],” Newman said. “It’s early in the development process, but I will tell you that looking back at ’24’ from season to season the bad guys, if you will, really varied from Eastern Europeans and Russians to Asians to people of the Middle East. While I understand why that criticism was made, I think when we really examine it, it wasn’t quite as one-sided as it seemed.”