Category Archives: Joel Surnow

Surnow Leaves Show

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – “24” co-creator Joel Surnow, the highest-profile mastermind behind the Emmy-winning drama, abruptly left the show Wednesday.

His contract with the show’s production company, 20th Century Fox TV, was set to expire April 30, but the studio agreed to his request for an early release so that he could make “a clean break” and focus on new projects, sources said.

“Joel created one of the landmark series of this decade in “24” and his contribution to its creative excellence over the years has been immeasurable,” Fox said in a statement Wednesday. It added that his input would always be welcome.

Surnow created the real-time thriller with Robert Cochran, who continues to work on the series. In the past few years, the show has been run by executive producer Howard Gordon. Each season revolves around 24 hours in the life of a government agent (Kiefer Sutherland) who battles villains on all fronts.

I was hoping to bring you news today of exactly how and when the show would return, but instead comes the news that Co-creator Joel Surnow has left his role as Executive Producer.

Good luck to Joel in future endeavours.

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Up Close with 24

Fox’s 24 is one of those shows that’s better judged over an entire season — individual episodes that don’t really work are easily glossed over if the majority of the two dozen episodes end up having a strong narrative flow and plenty of thrilling surprises, as Season 5 certainly did.

But now that one-third of Season 6 has aired, it’s appropriate to check in and see where 24 is headed, with the caveat that these concerns could melt away by the end of Jack Bauer’s sixth bad day.The focus on Bauer’s family drama has been too soapy for some, but I’ve mostly enjoyed it — the Bauer family dynamics have given star Kiefer Sutherland some prime opportunities for virtuoso acting, and James Cromwell was a great choice to play Papa Bauer, the most subtly evil character we’ve seen on the show in some time.

Short overview of the series so far, which makes a number of valid points (some with which I agree, other which I don’t), ranging from ongoing story choices to the politics of the show – although she doesn’t get into them as much as I’d like, but still recommended reading if you’ve got just a few minutes. Spoilers for people outside the U.S., although not earth shattering ones.

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Terror Vision

24 was the Big Bang moment in the current boom in telly-terror because of its revolutionary real-time format, its claustrophobic obsession with conspiracy and betrayal within the American political and security establishments, and, most conspicuously, for its timing. The first series began airing on the American Fox network in November 2001, only two months after 9/11, though obviously the planning and writing had begun long before. Now gearing up for a sixth season for the start of next year and with a spin-off feature film in prospect, 24 rescued Kiefer Sutherland from a twilight zone of bad movies and obscure TV guest appearances, and possibly triggered the trend towards making television a respectable home for movie actors.

Equally significantly, 24 set a tone President Bush might admire – terrorism is the deadliest enemy, and no weapon will be left unused in combatting it. Its makers have made no bones about their hawkish sympathies, with co-creator Joel Surnow happy to admit to 24’s conservative leanings. When the Council of American-Islamic Relations became alarmed by what it considered a negative portrayal of Muslims, Kiefer Sutherland responded by appearing in placatory public service announcements, but Surnow has refused to blunt the show’s ruthless edge.

“For it to have any believability and resonance, we had to deal with the world we’re living in, and the terrorists are the jihadists,” he says. “It wouldn’t feel realistic if you did anything else.”

For Sutherland’s Jack Bauer and his fellow agents, there’s never any question of civil liberties or other liberal wimpishness taking precedence over the urgency of their mission. When Bauer’s Counter Terrorist Unit planned to torture suspects to extract details about a threatened nuclear attack on the US, the chief terrorist called an outfit called Amnesty Global (having presciently stored their number as a speed-dial on his phone), and, to Bauer’s disgust, they wheeled out a human rights lawyer to stall the ongoing atrocities.

For Surnow, there’s no question that torture can be a legitimate counter-terrorism tool. “If there’s a bomb about to hit a major US city and you have a person with information… if you don’t torture that person, that would be one of the most immoral acts you could imagine,” he argues. CTU do at least dispense torture even-handedly, since they’ll happily torture their own agents if they suspect they may be leaking intelligence to the enemy …

That’s a quote from an intelligent look at 9/11’s impact upon the output of Hollywood as well as the british TV channels. Free from series six spoilers.

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Another 2 Years of ’24’?

“24 (FOX) – Co-creator/co-showrunner Bob Cochran has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with the show’s producer 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, as you’d expect, covers his duties on “24” for the length of the deal as well as develop (along with fellow “24” co-creator/co-showrunner Joel Surnow) new projects for the studio.”

This report from futon critic points to atleast two more series of ’24’, this pretty much sets in stone other reports that there will be a fifth series, and probably kills off any hopes that NBC had of nicking the show from FOX.

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UPDATE – Wednesday 18th May

“Stealing some of the thunder from networks with early upfront presentations, FOX reportedly has a deal in place to bring back “24” for two seasons,…, negotiations between FOX and the studio over ’24’ were complicated by the producers’ attempt to secure a higher license fee in order to handle the lofty production costs on the fourth year drama. There had been rumors that the lengthy discussions might allow another network — possibly NBC — to sneak in and steal the show…”

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