Fox clocks ’24’ man to 2-year deal

Cochran will remain on hit skein, develop new projects

With “24” about to wrap its most-watched season to date, 20th Century Fox TV has inked a seven-figure two-year deal with series co-creator and co-showrunner Bob Cochran.

Cochran will remain as exec producer of “24,” while also developing new projects for the studio. After spending the last four years focused on their current skein, Cochran said he and “24” co-creator/co-showrunner Joel Surnow may finally be ready to turn their attention to creating a new project for the studio, perhaps next season.

“The ideal would be to do something as different from ’24’ as ’24’ is different from everything else on television,” Cochran said. “But saying that sentence is easier than doing it.”

Gary Newman, prexy of 20th, confirmed there’s “a good likelihood” that Cochran and Surnow will begin developing “as early as this next season.” All involved, however, emphasized that “24” will remain a priority.

“The bottom line is, Bob has been a critical part of this show,” Newman told Daily Variety. “He’s one of the key contributors to the incredible story turns that this show is known for. It’s all conceived inside Bob’s rather large brain (and) we know keeping him with the series is insurance that we’ll continue to have some of the most cutting-edge storylines in television.”

APA-repped Cochran said “making sure ’24’ stays on track is the first priority” for him and Surnow. “We have other very capable exec producers on the show,” he added.

So far this season “24” is averaging a 5.0/12 in adults 18-49 and nearly 12 million viewers, giving the show its biggest aud ever. Even more impressive, skein has racked up those numbers without the “American Idol” lead-in it had for the past two seasons and on Monday nights, where Fox had foundered.

Fox Broadcasting is still in talks with 20th and Imagine TV about a pickup of “24,” but industry insiders are very optimistic a deal will be done soon.

Cochran’s credits also include USA Network actioner “La Femme Nikita,” “The Commish” and “JAG.”