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Kiefer Sutherland and 24 have endured a rough year and a half.  The writers’ strike murdered their seventh season, and forced them to delay the season for a year.  In the interim, Kiefer had to serve over a month in prison, stemming from a DUI charge.  The future of 24 was in some doubt, but if today’s Comic-Con panel is any indication, things are back on the right track.  24: Exile, the two-hour prequel movie to season 7, will be airing in November, with season 7 bowing in January.  Kiefer Sutherland was joined by Carlos Bernard and the entire creative/production staff as they showed footage from Exile, and discussed the new season and anything else fans wanted to discuss.

The panel began with some cool footage from the 24: Exile prequel.  It was a full scene, maybe six or seven minutes long, and it showed more or less what the movie will be about.  Jack is walking through the streets in Africa, escorting a group of kids to the US Embassy.  These kids are being saved from becoming child soldiers, which is the big conflict of the movie.   It’s a cool scene that begins with Jack comforting a young boy, and ends in a shootout. 

Kiefer Sutherland arrived on stage with fellow cast member Carlos Bernard, executive producer Howard Gordon, producer/director Jon Cassar, and writers Manny Coto, Carlos Coto, David Fury, and Brennan Braga.  Sutherland talked more than everyone else combined, it seemed, but that’s what the fans came to see.  He was remarkably grateful (this was the first time he’d been to Comic-Con), and very open and articulate about everything 24.  Bernard and Sutherland have an easy chemistry, Bernard often adding the comic relief to the inherently serious nature of Kiefer. 

Everyone was in high spirits, and very excited about both the prequel film and the upcoming seventh season.  Here are the major highlights from the panel:

With the season postponed because of the writers’ strike, when it was over Kiefer and Howard Gordon discussed something they could do for the fans in the interim.  What originally was an idea for a 7-10 minute prequel turned into 2 hours at the urging of the network.

They were supposed to only shoot for three days on location in South Africa, but when Jon Cassar went to scout locations, he realized that they wouldn’t be able to fake those scenes very easily.  So, they ended up shooting the vast majority of the movie on location.

Kiefer was extremely high on the prequel.  He thinks the strike gave the writers more time than they’ve ever had before and truly believes that the Exile script is among the best they’ve ever produced. 

There are two new writers for season 7: Brennan Braga and Carlos Coto (Manny’s brother).

Bernard couldn’t be happier to be back on the show.  In regards to how Tony comes back from the dead, Kiefer was clear in pointing out that he too was skeptical upon hearing the plan, but when Howard explained to him exactly how Tony came back, Kiefer loved it. 

A lot of crew members on 24 come from Hollywood, which may be a reason why the series feels so cinematic. 

Answering the predictable Comic-Con question of when Jack Bauer goes to the bathroom, Kiefer said that they actually shot a scene once where Jack went to the bathroom, but they cut it out. 

Season 7 is going to deal with torture unlike the series ever has before. 

The 24 movie is on hold until the series ends its run.

The main conflict in the prequel movie involves child soldiers. 

Highlight of the panel: A kid asked Kiefer to yell “Damn it, Cameron!”  And he did.  And it was hilarious.   

Kiefer’s answer to what he thinks the coolest thing Jack has ever done: “Probably chopping that guy’s head off in season 2.”  Indeed. 

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-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer

Oscar Dahl

Senior Writer, BuddyTV