Clock winds down on “24”: Kiefer and company close to calling it a day

24
Tick, tick, tick, BONG!!!!

“24’s” time is almost up. 

20th Century Fox TV and Fox appear ready to end the long-running hit after this season, the show’s eighth.

Studio and network execs declined comment — but it’s believed that the final decision will be made in the next day or two. Move is not a huge surprise, but still reps the end of an era for Fox.

“24” helped usher in Fox’s ratings surge in the 2000s, as the franchise — along with “American Idol” and “House,” among other series — led the network’s adults 18-49 ratings crown. 

But the cost of producing “24” has continued to increase, while ratings have dipped. A one-time critical darling, “24” has also received its share of knocks from reviewers this season.

The studio is said to be considering shopping “24” to other nets — but given the thriller’s age and price tag, it’s believed that the interest from other outlets will be limited.

But even as bell tolls for “24,” the franchise is far from over. Sutherland and the “24” team have been keen on turning the show into a movie property, and have made major strides in recent months toward making that long-term goal a reality.

Twentieth Century Fox’s film side recently hired scribe Billy Ray (“State of Play,” “Flightplan”) to pen the script for the feature version. (Daily Variety,  Feb. 8.)

Ray’s pitch, which takes Jack Bauer to Europe, was a hit with Fox execs and producers of the high-concept television series.

Script is said to have come through “24” star Sutherland, who’s also an exec producer on the series — and is said to be eager to turn the long-running TV skein into a movie franchise. 

Such a move into the features world was considered impossible while production continued on the TV series — given that “24” takes much of the year to produce, given its feature-like shooting schedule. But with “24” expected to end its run, the ability to focus on a movie could now finally be in sight.

“24” was created by Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow, while exec producer Howard Gordon runs the show through his Real Time Prods. banner.

Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment produces the show along with 20th Century Fox TV.

Sutherland has starred throughout all eight seasons as Jack Bauer, a federal agent and member of the Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit (and who has saved the world several times over). “24” made noise for its real time format, in which all 24 episodes take place as consecutive hours in the same day.

Although it was developed before the terrorist attacks of 9/11, “24” debuted several months afterward — and in many ways began to mirror the changed world, given the real-life fears over terrorism and debates over torture methods. The show’s depiction of an African-American president was also seen as a ground-breaking precursor to the 2008 election of Barack Obama.

Show has also won both the Emmy and the Golden Globe awards for outstanding drama, while Sutherland has scored both an Emmy and a Globe for drama actor. “24” has also received Emmy Awards for writing and directing; last year, Cherry Jones won an Emmy for supporting actress in a drama.

This season’s edition of “24,” which takes place in New York, stars Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Cherry Jones, Anil Kapoor, Annie Wersching, Katee Sackhoff, Mykelti Williamson, Freddie Prinze Jr., Chris Diamantopoulos and John Boyd.

Howard Gordon, Evan Katz, David Fury, Manny Coto, Brannon Braga, Brad Turner, Alex Gansa, Kiefer Sutherland and Brian Grazer are executive producers.

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