It’s official: Fox is making a new version of 24.
Also official: The reboot will have an all-new cast, with producers currently seeking an African-American actor to take over for longtime series star Kiefer Sutherland.
Fox has ordered a pilot for 24: Legacy, a new series starter that contains many of the hallmarks of the original action hit that launched in 2001 and ran for nine seasons on Fox: “The pilot will feature an all-new cast of characters and retain the real-time, pulse-pounding, fast-paced format with split screens and complex interweaving storylines, with each episode representing one hour of an eventful day.” Original producers Howard Gordon, Manny Coto and Evan Katz will return as executive producers.
But that means Jack Bauer (Sutherland) has firmly walked off into the sunset. Sutherland has recently been cast in a new ABC thriller called Designated Survivor, where he’ll play a man suddenly handed the presidency after a catastrophic attack during the State of the Union address.
The 24 reboot is about a military hero, “Eric Carter,” who returns to the U.S. and the trouble that follows him back – compelling him to ask the Counter Terrorist Unit for help in saving his life, and stopping what potentially could be one of the largest-scale terror attacks on American soil.
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The pilot, filming this winter, has not yet been cast, but the process is underway. We’re hearing producers are specifically seeking an African-American actor for the role, though Fox Television Chairman and CEO Dana Walden and Gary Newman suggested a Latino actor could be considered as well. “We wanted [the star] to be as different from Jack Bauer as possible, whether that’s an African-American or a Latino actor,” Walden said, with Newman adding: “As envisioned, the lead character would be diverse, so that will be our first effort in casting. As always, we’re going to cast the best actor we can find for the role. As you can imagine, bringing 24 back, we want to really try to create some distinction and make this feel different than Jack Bauer’s 24, so having a diverse actor in that lead role I think would be helpful in doing that.”
A series order would be a 12-episode arc, like the 2014 revival Live Another Day, rather than the strict real-time 24-episode format of the original series. “That’s something we discussed for years, ‘It’s 24 — it has to be 24 episodes,’ ” Walden said. “I don’t think any of us believe that a 24-episode arc in this day and age is the way to go.”
In another switch from the original series, the show will focus less on a lone wolf lead and is more of a “two-hander,” with the Carter character paired with a female co-lead.
“There’s also a female co-lead who is a former head of CTU,” said Fox Television Chairman and CEO Dana Walden at the Television Critics Association in Pasadena on Friday. “It doesn’t feel like it is fully replicating the original in terms of how much Jack Bauer carried by himself, but it’s a very prominently featured lead.”
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Walden also revealed to reporters there will be a time jump in the show’s storyline and that Legacy will deal with sleeper cells radicalizing Americans. “It’s a new CTU, a new cast of characters,” she said. “It’s a completely different story in terms of the special ops groups that we’re focusing on. It’s a very contemporary feeling story about the potential to activate new sleeper cells in the United States and radicalizing Americans. It’s a whole new story. There are nods in the pilot to prior CTU agents, there are a couple photos that will feel reminiscent of the original, but no ongoing [returning] characters.”