Exclusive Interview: HOWARD GORDON GIVES THE EARLY SCOOP ON '24' - SEASON 7: VERSION 3.0 Send to a friend
© (c) 2007 Fox Television Kiefer Sutherland on Fox's 24



Plus the executive producer talks about what Jack would have been doing in Africa if the series went that direction

By ANTHONY C. FERRANTE, Editor in Chief
Published 7/24/2007

As fast as things can change on any given hour on 24, is ironically the way things have been going in the writer’s room in preparation for Season 7 of the series (or any other given time during a season).

Executive Producer Howard Gordon spoke candidly with iF last night at Fox's Summer Press Tour. In an exclusive one-on-one interview about this process, he discussed the various permutations the new season is taking and some nice little non-spoiler morsels about what to expect from Season 7.

Of course after winning the Emmy for Season 5 of 24, Gordon admits that the claws were out during Season 6, as critics and audiences were on the defensive about the show at every turn. But for him, he truly enjoyed what they did last season and has no regrets about.

"Clearly we felt the pressure of coming out of the box so strong and maybe on some level we spent all our coin in the first four episodes and found ourselves exploding a nuclear bomb in Valencia right away," says Gordon. "I was very proud of last season, but it was hurtful to get that kind of criticism. I don’t think it was our strongest season, but I don’t think it warranted the kind of criticism we wound up getting."

With all eyes on the show, Gordon admits that defining where Season 7 would go has been a constantly evolving process and involved the widely reported concept of setting it in Africa which would have changed the way the show looked and felt, but would have been too cost-prohibitive.

"The fact is, it was a mutual issue," explains Gordon. "We struggled to do something new this year. We sent Jack Bauer to Africa and I wrote a script that honestly did not work. Before the network even saw it at the studio level, we were getting kick-back from the idea, especially once we budgeted what Africa would cost. It was a combination of the studio was not enthusiastic to shoot there for budgetary purposes and creatively, it didn’t feel like it warranted pushing our case. One day, at the iHop, I sat across [creators/executive producers] Joel [Surnow] and Bob [Cochran] and we all agreed this story wasn’t working and retooled it two weeks ago."

What exactly was in store for Jack in Africa? Gordon reveals for the first time that it began with Bauer working at a Habitat for Humanity-type place.

"He was at a humanitarian work project, but he was merely visiting a friend of his who had made his life there," explains Gordon. "Jack was wandering and finding where he belongs in the world. On one level, his friend says, ‘If you think you’re going to find penance here, you’re not going to find it.’ Jack actually has been there for a couple of months, and we learn he has been wandering the world basically trying to find a place to belong and looking for penance and realizes he’s not going to find it anywhere, so he gets caught up in a coup and has a BLACK HAWK DOWN kind of moment."

The other shocking revelation was the series would have broken its 24 hour, real-time rule for the first time in the series history.

"We were going to do a time jump twelve hours ahead and have Jack Bauer in Africa for a couple of hours in real-time and then jump it forward long enough to get back to America," says Gordon. "So we were going to defy the real-time thing."

Although Gordon only wrote the first hour and scattered scenes for the next couple of episodes, after iF suggests using the material for the bridge between Seasons 6 and 7 on the forthcoming Season 6 DVD, which Gordon admits isn’t such a bad idea. He then adds he will likely look into the possibility since there wasn’t a Season 6 DVD bridging episode planned.

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As for where they ended up, Gordon says the current version should be called Season 7 – Version 3.0 (since this is the third permutation the show has taken in the past few weeks) and will likely begin at 7:00 a.m. East Coast time.

"The show picks up roughly three plus years later," says Gordon (even though technically, isn’t Bauer about 65 at this point?) "Time has a very metaphorical quality on 24. Even though it’s real time, the distance technically would be fifteen years older than when Kiefer started. We obviously don’t play it that way, it’s funny, even [Director/Executive Producer] Jon Cassar and I have a running argument that it’s actually 2015 on the show and that accounts for some of the science fiction conceits. But it really takes place in a nebulous, near future present. We have one of the most rigorously literal time things on a TV series, yet we are the most loose-jointed about it [in between seasons]."

As for where Season 7 will take place, Gordon says they’re still trying to decide, and chances are the whole season will remain in that city the entire run of this season.

"We are between New York and Washington and it appears to be Washington," says Gordon, although it will continue to be shot in Los Angeles, posing for that city. "We will go and certainly shoot some portion of it in Washington."

While Mary Lynn Rajskub is officially on board for the new season as Jack's only confident Chloe O'Brian, the only other official announcement in regards to cast is two-time Tony award winner Cherry Jones taking over as the first female President Allison Taylor. Gordon says they're in discussions for bringing some other famliar faces back, but can't discuss them just yet.

"There is a thought that the new president had some mishap and this female president asserted herself," says Gordon. "We actually pick her up fairly well into her tenure. She got elected."

Of course, with the United States of 24, the country has certainly been through hell with terrorist attacks, nuclear bombs, presidential assassinations and questionable or incapable presidents with shady cabinet members the past four seasons, so hopefully a female president will restore some faith in the show’s population.

"It’s time to go back to an idealized president -- a well-articulated and idealized president," says Gordon who also notes she will learn of Jack for the first time on the show and does not have a past with him.

As for answers to other burning questions, Gordon gives some quick answers to the most obvious burning questions fans are having during the usually long wait in between seasons.

iF: So if the show is set on the East Coast, is CTU gone?


iF: What will happen to the beautiful set you have on the Chattsworth stages of CTU?

GORDON: It will probably become the Washington bureau of the F.B.I.

iF: Is Jack no longer affiliated with anyone?

GORDON: Jack is a freelancer.

iF: When the new season starts, what is Jack doing in Washington

GORDON: That would spill something.

iF: Is there hope for Jack?

GORDON: I think the show is a tragedy, but Jack has basically lost everyone and everything he can lose and so for the show to continue, yes, there is hope.

iF: In this season is there hope?

GORDON: I think so.

iF: Will Jack ever get together with Marilyn Bauer (Rena Sofer)?

GORDON: I think that was a relationship that had run its course. It really adheres to ‘you can’t go home again,’ school of relationships.

iF: It’s kind of obvious that Jack might very well be the father of her child – and not his brother.

GORDON: We all thought he was his son, then even last year we had a moment where we said it’s actually Phillip Bauer’s kid [James Cromwell, who played Jack’s dad], which was so twisted. We had a draft where that was addressed and we wound up dropping it."

iF: Is former President Logan (Gregory Itzin) dead?

GORDON: Personally, I don’t think so?

iF: Is Jack’s dad dead?

GORDON: His father I think is pretty dead.

iF: Is Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) dead or in a coma?

GORDON: I don’t think he’s able to serve. We don’t know where he is. I like to think he’s alive. 24 is such a weird world, unless you see them go down, they’re not out.

iF: What’s the big arc this year?

GORDON: In some ways it’s intensely personally and also there’s a big idea behind it.

Ultimately, Gordon admits he can’t reveal too much, because that would spoil all the fun and they’re still navigating through the writing process on the first few episodes, but he does want to let the fans know that the show will continue to offer up 24 consecutive hours of action, suspense and twists and turns people come to expect from the series.

"We still love doing it," says Gordon. "We love the show. We attend to it, the same love, devotion and attention we have for the last six years."

And for Gordon, that’s the most important thing – that they do 24 "for the fans" and for themselves.

"You can’t write something unless you’re excited about it," he concludes. "We may not always be successful, but the care comes through. We’ve never stopped caring, none of us. Part of it is, even though we’re on the seventh year of the show, even though it’s an ensemble, it’s through the prism of Jack Bauer -- where is he and what distance he’s traveled. And this year, it has been challenging finding this place and I believe we’ve found this place – finally."

Reader Comments

mike anderson from detroit michigan sez....
when dose season seven start?
3/2/2008 9:31:39 PM

Jennie from New Mexico sez....
Marilyn and Jack have a history and a chemistry that would make for an exciting love story. I loved watching her and Jack in Season 6. Bring her back.
2/12/2008 10:25:05 PM

***GEORGE K-9*** from THE PHILIPPINES sez....
i watched all seasons of 24 even if ihave work following day i never skip watching. i want tony and michelle back on the loop they spend more hours in ctu and viewers realy love it. after season six it is interesting for me what is the main story of season seven. sometimes jack moved unthinkable and thats what the fans are looking for like jack' decision making is better that anybody even if that person occupying highest chair in the government.
10/16/2007 2:01:07 AM

����Ԫ from CHINA sez....
I don't like the Part of Chinese in Season 6. Firstly, they even could not speak Chinese fluently. Second, they could not stand for Chinese.
9/5/2007 6:23:55 AM

Jordan from Australia sez....
The terrorism on 24 is incidental, the heart of the show has always been the characters! The terrorists are merely something for the characters to react to! Season One was about characters from start to finish: Jack's colleagues and family, and the betrayal of said characters. The crew need to realise that jumping from one action movie-inspired set to the next is not what people want to see! The adventures and relationships of characters like Sherry Palmer and especially the Logans are what makes the show interesting! For example, Sherry and Alan Milliken or Martha, Charles and Aaron. These low-key plots are miles better than "Jack on a plane" or "Jack on a train". When the characters aren't explored we start moving into boring twist upon twist nonsense like Day 6.
9/4/2007 1:03:39 AM

Taylor from Nevada sez....
I think they should find a way to bring Tony and Michelle back. For me the show sucked after they left. It would be so stupid and pointless to get rid of CTU. That is the one thing that made season 5-6 interesting.
8/25/2007 8:17:19 PM

Joshua B. from Syracuse, New York sez....
Gordon said familiar faces right, but he can't spill the beans on any. Well, allow me to spill those beans. Tony Almeida has been confirmed Jon Cassar, director of 24, to be a part of the alternate ending to season 6, he was said to be the villain of the Africa plot.
8/15/2007 8:31:39 PM

jenny west from merseyside, UK sez....
please reunite audrey and jack. for a hero jack has such a shit life. he lost his wife,dad,brother and in a way his daughter. i also believe taking away CTU would be a serious mistake!!!! YAY!!!!! chloe will return, i love chloe she is awsome... so funny. the rumors of tony's return i think would only work if he was in a coma otherwise i believe he is better of left dead. ROLL ON JANUARY.
8/10/2007 6:14:58 AM

Angeles from LONDON, UK sez....
Why not a Die Hard setting for Jack....24 hours with them just after him. Theres been so many rumors...Like jack going to China or even here in the UK..but Season 7 sounds great...but i think they should widen the area a bit. Not just film in Washington and LA...but in New York, Miami...maybe even somewhere in Canada. Maybe mixing a few other shows in to it. Like jack et's some help from Grissom from CSI (i know...bit over the top) But a war zone...good idea. Maybe with some flash back areas with Jack being shown in his black op days...and maybe the bad guy being someone they thought he had already killed but now wants revenge. And it's nice to have Chloe back...i like her.
8/6/2007 9:41:06 PM

Caleb from NC sez....
Sweet, Jack is in the middle of a Coup. That would be fucking awesome if Jack was in a warzone
8/3/2007 9:37:34 PM

Mick from Scotia, NY sez....
Maybe season 7 will begin with Jack waking up after being rescued from China, after being in a 24 hour coma. "What a horrible dream", he'd say...
7/31/2007 1:44:30 PM

Chris from UK sez....
I think it is about time, Jack was taken back onboard to lead an agency again, acting as a consultant/freelance in times of crisis is growing old....give the man a job/career again he is too talented not to have one, whether it be wtih the CIA, CTU, NSA, or another intelligence agency.....Why not have him running a black ops group that gathers intelligence on terrorists and later in the day get embroiled in bringing them down.
7/31/2007 5:55:56 AM

Frank Castle from Toledo, Ohio sez....
i think they ought to have Jack Bauer go overseas as a guy who is working on his own or with a group of other freelancers that are trying to take out a terrorist regime or some shit like that.....
7/30/2007 2:21:36 PM

JULIA from TORONTO sez....
7/28/2007 5:56:11 PM

Yvonne from Germany sez....
I think all the new stuff sounds quite good. Taking away CTU is a wise move. With all the technical stuff it was way too easy for the writers to get out of any corner. Now they have to get creative again. :) The Season taking place in Washington sounds great. I just hope they will be able to fake it well enough in LA. :)
7/27/2007 2:52:56 AM

Maureen from Canada sez....
So... some people believe Jack was cheating on his wife with his sister-in-law? Josh would have been born when Kim was around six, certainly a twisted family tree if that's the case.
7/26/2007 9:09:59 AM

Butterfly from Lisbon, Portugal sez....
It must be hard on all the crew of "24" to keep a high standard of interest and quality on the show. The industry is worst than a jungle. But maybe they just need to delay a little longer the period of time between seasons, to keep the interest. Here's a suggestion: Why not filming some episodes here in Portugal? For instance, the Base das Lages in the Azores Islands.
7/26/2007 7:04:12 AM

Oliver from Germany sez....
I do not agree with the first comment. Season one was unspectacular. Who wants to see the family story?? The kind of terrorists in Season 2 - 6 are REAL ! That is what we would like to see. No fantasy or never. White house storylines are much better than family stuff.
7/26/2007 5:39:38 AM

dk from Philadelphia, PA sez....
Personally, I think this will be a great direction for season 7. How soon everyone on hear forgets how season one started. Yes, there was a threat against Senator Palmer's life, but the more pressing issue was Jack's family being put into DIRECT danger with the same enemy trying to kill Palmer. That entire season was trying to keep his family safe while stopping the enemy from killing Palmer, there was no overarching storyline about a 'TERRORIST'. yea i admit the Drazens were sort of terrorists, but not in the sense that 24 took their 'terrorists' between seasons 2-6. The storyline in season one had so many twists and turns, and it felt more like a mystery/thriller than a blockbuster/terrorist film. And if you ask me, that's where the really great storyline lies, and a lot of people seem to think that season one was the best season of 24. So hopefully, the writers will go back to their roots and give us a season like season 1.
7/25/2007 6:50:34 PM

Dillon from Ontario sez....
While this all sounds intriguing on paper, and i am sick of the same old terrorists and LA setting and everything. Am i the only one who thinks taking away CTU and terrorists will completely ruin the show and what it is all about. I mean i cant see there being nonstop action and suspense if the main arch is just a personal story for jack. I am excited as i am with every season, i did enjoy season six but i felt they missed oppurtunities and there were several flaws, and now im just really worried that they're not going to be able to redeem themselves and that 24 wont be the same anymore :(
7/25/2007 12:21:52 PM

Todd from Cleveland, OH sez....
I think the last few seasons have been less and less captivating. The introduction of a new cast every season and keeping all terrorist situations to the LA area becomes less and less believable. I have been disappointed seeing good characters leave such as Tony Almeida, Michelle Dessler, Curtis Manning, Chase Edmunds, etc. If I were a writer, I would try to get Tom Clancy on board or the people who write for Splinter Cell to get better ideas. For a plot I would like to see something with Ireland's IRA (like Patriot Games) or put Jack Bauer in Mexico as an agent and input any terrorist attack that would happen in Mexico then have it lead to America (sort of another season 3); why not Canada - isn't there crazy people in Quebec that want to break away from their country. I'm just tired of CTU in LA and the Middle Eastern connections of terrorist acts (not saying that those situations would not happen or are not believable). Also anybody that was in the Young Guns films to be a villain or guest star would be great, just like in season 1 with Lou Diamond Phillips. Regardless, I am still excited for the next season and it will be interesting to see where Jack Bauer will end up.
7/25/2007 11:26:44 AM

Kolja from Germany sez....
i just saw the new tarrantino film. there was one scene, that gave me the idea, where season 7 or maybe better 8 should go. the film is about stuntmen, who are envolved in a car chase at the end. i�ve seen millions of car chases, there is nothing new. the point is: they�re stuntmen who suddenly find themselves in a "real" car chase. that�s another level and makes it interesting. why not put mr. sutherland in a position, where terrorist are taking over the set of 24 or something? then the actor himself is the starring role and the season can deal with the gap between fiction and drama, real technical possibilities and the made up ones in the series and the general issue of propaganda. mr. sutherland calling a "real" mr. bauer for help and getting rid of the problem with a "real" ctu... of course, a season like this can only be seen as a last one.
7/25/2007 9:53:20 AM

Kolja from Germany sez....
i just saw the new tarrantino film. there was one scene, that gave me the idea, where season 7 or maybe better 8 should go. the film is about stuntmen, who are envolved in a car chase at the end. i�ve seen millions of car chases, there is nothing new. the point is: they�re stuntmen who suddenly find themselves in a "real" car chase. that�s another level and makes it interesting. why not put mr. sutherland in a position, where terrorist are taking over the set of 24 or something? then the actor himself is the starring role and the season can deal with the gap between fiction and drama, real technical possibilities and the made up ones in the series and the general issue of propaganda. mr. sutherland calling a "real" mr. bauer for help and getting rid of the problem with a "real" ctu... of course, a season like this can only be seen as a last one.
7/25/2007 9:52:12 AM

Andrew from Nottinghamshire sez....
Forgive me for forcing my opinion onto everyone.... don't you think the show would be better if they made Jack Bauer the bad guy (or at least the perceived bad guy) for the entire season?
7/25/2007 9:38:25 AM

Ross McKenzie from Aberdeen sez....
The producers should be pushing 24 in a new direction... get away from the White House story lines. They've all been done to death! FBI sounds like CTU in disguise. PLEASE Howard Gordon, please do not fall into the same cliffhangers, what was once a shock is now totally predictable. I love 24 and just don't want to see it forced through another season for the sake of it.
7/25/2007 5:13:53 AM

Ronen from Israel sez....
i think the ideal location for a future season would be Israel. 1) english friendly speaking enviroment 2) located right in the heart of the islamic world 3) enables to keep the real time theme, yet spreading out to varoius locations:from Jerusalem, you are max' one hr flight away from cairo, Beirut, damaskus, Gaza, etc.. 4) the Israeli armed forces, Mosad, and of course women, could fit in ideally into any script 5) the ctu staff and the president never leave there office in any case, so these story lines can be kept at all times
7/24/2007 11:35:06 PM

Marcel from Brazil sez....
It looks like they have just a basic idea for the script, not a very elaborated plot. What concerns me the most is that the shootings are about to start, right? I don't like to think that it will be like season six, where at some point, the plot seemed to be "let's try anything" or "we ran out of story, let's make something up and start filming it in 20 minutes"...specially between episodes 10 and 16. Anyway, I liked the season six, I just think it could run hotter... But the guys wrote the first five seasons, so, I believe they can make a great seventh season.
7/24/2007 8:35:09 PM

Chris from Germany sez....
This sure sounds amazing and I can't wait for Season 7 to hitthe screens, but how can you discontinue CTU? Isn't the whole show about terrorism? And isn't CTU the center of the fight against terrorism? And there are enough shows already about the FBI. I also hope you don't eliminate all the technology because that was always a very exciting element for me. But in the end I trust the good work the production team has done over the years and I am still excited about the new season. And thanks for six of the best seasons in television history. Chris
7/24/2007 3:25:01 PM

Shaun Clark from Burnley, Lancashire sez....
omg the sound of this, season 7 could be the best season yet. I really enjoyed season 6 but what has happend to charles Logan? The first 4 hours of day 6 has been brillant, none stop action. Shame curtis got killed of, And the ending to day 6 when jack said a sad goodbye to Audrey was sad and then jack loving over the ciff, wondering what to do next. that was a great perfect end to day 6. now i am looking forward to day 7 on sky one in the uk. shame they is no ctu, glad chloe is coming back and i hope morris comes back as well. roll on January 2008, I am so exited. 24 is the best drama on tv!! and can i just say that producers of 24 are brillant.
7/24/2007 1:26:05 PM

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