A new wave of stories have been appeared regarding the January ’09 start for Day 7, this time citing Fox directly as the source. You can now mark the month in your calendar.
Update: Some good suggestions as to reasons why in the comments by “Serial Rocker”. I thought I would put them in the main post for everyone to see.
Regarding why 24 can’t simply be run later than normal, there are several factors. The first is the fear that a show running into the summer will lose viewers as the networks seem to hold to the opinion, rightly or wrongly, that people watch less television during the summer months. That is one of the main reasons why a television “season” covers the months that it does.
This is the basic reason why Fox wouldn’t want to simply start airing Day 7 as soon as it could air all 24 episodes in one run. Because atleast the tail end would run into the summer season.
Also, there is the fact that many of the cast and crew are only contracted to a show for certain times of the year. I’ve no idea if this is the case for 24 but it is quite possible that Kiefer and the other actors may be contracted to other projects after a certain point, making them unavailable for involvement in the show should it run later than planned.
Another good point, although I believe given the nature of the strike, every production schedule is being moved around right now, and so for the key actors ’24’ would have been there priority. But I can certaintly see it as a serious problem for recurring guest stars, who may have been unsure exactly how many episodes they would be wanted for anyway. I think either way we may notice a few characters and actors written out after episode 8.
Finally, and this is a purely speculative point that occured to me and may or may not be the case, given the nature of 24’s format, should the “night” hours of the show run through the middle or late into the season (which appears to be the case from the litle I have seen of the early episodes) then filming the outside locations during the months of the year when it is dark for only a short time of the night would probably require a hell of a lot of late nights and difficult shoots. Not something they would want to have to worry about given all the other issues of getting back into production.
This I think is the best point, it’s somewhat of an open fact about 24’s production schedule that it’s easier to shoot the nightime episodes during the winter and the daytime episodes during the summer. An increased production time eases these concerns.