LOS ANGELES--Kiefer Sutherland was the big get at the Fox 24 informal sessions Monday. TV's Jack Bauer was backed up against some doors and totally surrounded by reporters with arms outstretched holding digital recorders. He talked about how--thanks to the writer's strike and the long layoff between 24's--this will be the first season where they will have actually wrapped production on the series before the first episode hits the air (next January). He says the extra time helped the writers avoid the mid-season sags that have, he admits, plagued 24 in the past.
Other 24 stars were in the house, including Jon Voight (who plays the big bad guy this coming season), Scottish actor Robert Carlyle and former Ally McBeal star Gil Bellows. All will appear in 24: Exile, a two hour prequel to the next season set in Africa and airing in November. Another Canadian actor, Colum Feore, will be in 24 as "the First Gentleman," married to 24's new lady president.
Sutherland laughed when I asked him about that gag he pulled in the season finale of Corner Gas this season. "I think I scared them, I yelled so loud," said Sutherland who crabs at his mom (Shirley Douglas) in the bit. Look for Douglas to pop up on 24 next season, too.
After the Fox PR dudes pried the press hoards away from him, he stepped into a walkway on the other side of the doors. That's when Globe and Mail columnist Andy Ryan and I nabbed him with the ol' Canadian one-two: Ryan offered Sutherland one of his Canadian smokes. "Can't--I'll go crazy for them if I start," said Sutherland, who instead pulled his own Yankee cig from behind his ear and lit it up.
I got him with the hockey talk; Sutherland stays in shape playing in a few leagues, including a Sunday scrimmage with TV and film mogul Jerry Bruckheimer and other Hollywood puck chasers. He said he used to play in an annual tournament in Vegas, but not anymore. The deal runs four days, and by the fourth day, says Sutherland, well, "it's just not conducive to playing hockey anymore."