Kiefer Sutherland is ‘pitching ideas directly’ for the ’24’ legal thriller spinoff

It’s hard to do “24” without Kiefer Sutherland as the leading man, but Fox keeps trying — with Sutherland’s help.

And this time they are doubling down on their efforts, with two projects in development — a Jack Bauer prequel series and a legal thriller spinoff. While Sutherland may not return as Jack Bauer for either, he’s backing both as a producer. And the franchise star is so into the latter project that he’s actually getting in on the brainstorming.

“I can tell you he loves the idea of the legal thriller [spin-off],” entertainment president of Fox Broadcasting, Michael Thorn, told TheWrap during the Television Critics Association press tour Thursday — just a few hours after the network announced that project was in development. “And he’s been pitching ideas directly to [longtime ’24’ showrunner] Howard Gordon.”

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LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 330 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Kiefer Sutherland during an interview with host Seth Meyers on February 18, 2016 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 16: Actor Kiefer Sutherland attends the screening of Momentum Pictures' 'Forsaken' at Autry Museum of the American West on February 16, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 16: Actor Kiefer Sutherland attends 'In Conversation with Kiefer Sutherland' as part of the Canada's Top Ten Film Festival held at TIFF Bell Lightbox on January 16, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 02: Actor Kiefer Sutherland attends Elton John AIDS Foundation's 14th Annual An Enduring Vision Benefit at Cipriani Wall Street on November 2, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 25: Kiefer Sutherland attends 'Forsaken' Premiere during the Zurich Film Festival on September 25, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. The 11th Zurich Film Festival will take place from September 23 until October 4. (Photo by Luca Teuchmann/WireImage)
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 16: Actor Kiefer Sutherland of 'Foresaken' attends the Guess Portrait Studio on September 16, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11: Actor Kiefer Sutherland (L) and actress Mary Lynn Rajskub attend the '24: Live Another Day' Deadline Emmy screening at Landmark Theatre on June 11, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Deadline)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 07: Kiefer Sutherland attends the American Theatre Wing's 69th Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Music Hall on June 7, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 01: Actor Kiefer Sutherland arrives at the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on March 1, 2015 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Isaiah Trickey/FilmMagic)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 24: Actor Kiefer Sutherland attends the '24: Live Another Day' panel during Comic-Con International 2014 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 24, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 07: Kiefer Sutherland at the Chiltern Firehouse on June 7, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/GC Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 31: Kiefer Sutherland at the Chiltern Firehouse on May 31, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Mark Robert Milan/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Kiefer Sutherland attends the UK premiere of '24: Live Another Day' at Old Billingsgate Market on May 6, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 06: Kiefer Sutherland attends the UK premiere of '24: Live Another Day' at Old Billingsgate Market on May 6, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Actor Kiefer Sutherland attends 24: Live Another Day World Premiere Event for Fox on Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on May 2, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for FOX)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Kiefer Sutherland speaks during SiriusXM Town Hall with Kiefer Sutherland at SiriusXM Studio on May 2, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 40 -- Pictured: Actor Kiefer Sutherland during an interview on May 1, 2014 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK NY - APRIL 29: Kiefer Sutherland sighting on April 29, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 13: Actor Kiefer Sutherland attends the 'Stand Up For Gus' Benefit at Bootsy Bellows on November 13, 2013 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: (L-R) Actress Kate Hudson and Actor Kiefer Sutherland attend the 'Reluctant Fundamentalist' US Premiere - 2013 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 22, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/Getty Images)
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“He’s involved as a producer on both shows,” Thorn added. “He is part of the fabric of those shows. Our hope is that like James Bond has had different versions of James Bond or Jack Ryan has been played by different people we can expand it to feature other signature characters. But I know that’s not easy, because Kiefer is an incredible actor that broke the mold with Jack Bauer. And so it’s a high bar.'”

The original “24” premiered in November 2001 and ran for 192 episodes over eight seasons until 2010. A made-for-TV film, “24: Redemption,” aired between seasons six and seven. In 2014, Fox revived the series for a limited run of 12 episodes called, “24: Live Another Day.”

Fox first rebooted the franchise with “24: Legacy,” which aired for one season in 2017. The series, which featured actor Corey Hawkins (Eric Carter) taking over for Sutherland as the lead, failed to catch on and was soon canceled. At the time of “Legacy’s” cancellation, the network had been considering other ways to keep the franchise on the air in some form.

Earlier this week, news broke that the network had a Jack Bauer prequel series in the works from Gordon and co-creators of the original series, Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran. And during Fox’s executive session at the TCA press tour Thursday, Fox TV Group co-chairman and CEO Gary Newman spilled the beans about the “24” legal thriller.

“The idea of moving the franchise from terrorism and security into the legal world is something we talked about as far back as season 3 or 4 of 24 where, from time to time, there would be discussions of spinoffs,” Newman said. “You have to look for an arena where the stakes are high and time matters. [The legal version of ’24’] deals with an execution of a prisoner and there are just 24 hours left until the execution is supposed to take place. So the stakes are high and it potentially has a lot of the same values of the original 24. Regardless of the political climate, the time’s always right for a show of that type.”

Thorn says Fox thinks “real time is a powerful storytelling mechanism” they want to keep pursuing, and that’s why they keep coming back to “24.”

“It’s something that’s so tied to ’24’ that our feeling was that, in addition to stories that feature CTU, that we could apply that storytelling device to other thrillers,” he added. “So the other one, which is with Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer, written by Jeremy Doner, is it’s a legal thriller that is dealing with the 24 hours before an execution. And so we’re hoping we can expand the franchise to tackle other worlds, but still deliver on thriller, conspiracy and a signature hero. And unlike the prequel our hero in this one is a female attorney. I haven’t read it yet though!”

So does Fox’s desire to “expand” the 24 universe with new heroes mean there is room for both shows, or will they have to pick the prequel or the spinoff?”

“They’re not mutually exclusive,” Thorn said. “We could do both. We haven’t read either script, so it’s hard to know which one might go first, or how we might approach it. But they are wildly different. And our hope is that the brand of ’24’ will allow us to do more than just one. Especially since they feature different heroes in different stories.”

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