Kiefer
 Jack Bauer’s clock has officially
been stopped.

The cast and crew of “24” were
given the official word on Friday: This season will be the show’s last.

News, finally confirmed by Fox, had
been expected — Variety
reported earlier this month that the network was ready
to call it a day. Star Kiefer Sutherland, exec producer
Howard Gordon and the studio were also leaning toward ending the show’s run as
well.

“For us, creatively, it seemed like the right
time to do it,” Sutherland told Variety. “It’s very bittersweet. ‘24’ was the
greatest learning experience of my career so far. And on a personal level,
working with this cast and crew and writers, these will be friends of mine for
the rest of my life.”

Fox had planned to inform the show’s cast and
crew earlier this month that it wouldn’t pick up a ninth season. But first,
sister studio 20th Century Fox TV asked Sutherland, Gordon and the rest of the
show’s producers to think long and hard about whether they had a strong desire
to pursue a season nine.

At the same time, 20th took calls from parties
toying with the idea of acquiring the show — including NBC and DirecTV, which
was rumored to be considering a production model in the vein of “Friday Night
Lights.”

But ultimately, Sutherland, Gordon and company
felt that they had accomplished what they wanted to with the show, and were
ready to wrap things up.

“Kiefer and me and the writers had (a decision
to make),” Gordon said. “What’s the creative? What do we do? Is there any more
story left to be told in this 24-hour format? We turned over every stone, and
really determined that the story has come to an end in this 24-hour
format.”

Both Sutherland and Gordon said they’re
bullish now on moving Jack Bauer to the big screen, and compressing a 24-hour
day — yes the entire movie’s action will still take place in just one day –
over the course of just two hours.

“The opportunity to make a movie and do a
two-hour representation was something appealing to he and I both,” Sutherland
said.

As Variety reported in February, scribe Billy
Ray (“State of Play”) is busy writing a screenplay; Gordon will produce.

“For the first time, we’ll be able to go from
England to Russia, or China to Japan, depending on where they choose to set it,”
Sutherland said. “Before on the TV show, the crisis had to come to us. The best
we could do it was get across town… It alleviates a huge hurdle that real-time
writing presented.”

As for the final episodes of “24,” Fox’s
marketing team will now be able to start touting the show’s finale — and will
likely get a nice Monday night ratings bump as the show comes to a close.

Gordon finished up the final episode a few
weeks ago (calling it a “very emotional moment” when he hit “send”, and that
series ender is now in the process of being shot).

“There are risks starting around episode 17,
and some real challenging things Kiefer was willing to go for,” Gordon
said.

The exec producer said the series will end on
a tremendous, and suitable note that signifies that this isn’t just another
season ender. But here’s a hint: Jack neither walks off whistling into the
sunset, nor winds up in a body bag.

“We tried everything on for size, from Jack’s
demise to a happy ending,” he said. “Both of those were unsatisfying for their
own reasons.”

Fox planned to make the official announcement
on Monday, but longtime “24” director Jon Cassar informed his Twitter followers
that the crew was given the firm word of “24’s” wrap.

“News from the ‘24’ set,” Cassar wrote
(cleaned up from his original text). “The crew has been told that ‘24’ has come
to an end. There will be no season 9. It’s been a great run, thanks all for
watching.”

As Variety wrote on March 9, “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.

“24” was created by Robert Cochran and Joel
Surnow, while exec producer Gordon runs the show through his Teakwood Lane
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.

“Bob and Joel created a revolutionary format,”
Gordon said. “They executed it for the first half of the series as my partners
and friends, and those were some of the most remarkable years I had
creatively.”

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.

“(‘24’) came at a time when our world changed
and our perception of our safety and vulnerability changed,” Gordon said. Gordon
noted that the show had its supporters and detractors on both sides of the
political aisles. Sutherland, meanwhile, said he was less concerned about the
show’s place in popular culture and more than it just be remembered as a strong
piece of work.

“My concern as an actor and as a producer was
that the stories were interesting, the drama was going to put you on the edge of
your seat and that we would maintain the quality,” he said. “I can’t help
someone politicizing something. It was done by the right and the left… the
only thing I can say is, it’s a TV show.”

“24” 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.

Next up for Gordon, he’s partnering with Alex
Gansa and Gideon Raff to adapt Raff’s Israeli drama “Prisoners of War” for U.S.
audiences, through 20th.

Sutherland, meanwhile, said he’d be willing to
try another TV series.

“There’s amazing TV out there,” he said. “And
drama and kind of human interaction I was interested in as an actor is being
done there.”

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