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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Cast of "24" Discuss TV Show

Aired January 9, 2007 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight Jack Bauer is back and the clock is ticking. We've been through another 24 hours. We're inside CTU headquarters with Kiefer Sutherland and the cast of "24." So what's it all about? Why does he keep millions around the world glued to their screens? Find out from Kiefer Sutherland and the cast of "24" next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, and welcome to a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. You will note we are not on our set. We are on the set of the sensational hit show "24" that will begin its sixth season this year. And with us are Kiefer Sutherland, the star and co-executive producer. He, of course, is Jack Bauer, our counterterrorism agent. Jean Smart, she plays the former first lady Martha Logan, the troubled wife of ousted president Charles Logan. DB Woodside, he is now the president of the United States. He plays Wayne Palmer, just sworn in in that role. Roger Cross, who plays Curtis Manning, the director of field operations for CTU Los Angeles and Adoni Maropis, who is the new villain of the piece and by the way, having seen the opening episode of the new season, this guy will scare your eyebrows off. Adoni Maropis is the latest villain. Let's start with Kiefer. How did all of this start? How did "24" become a "24"?

KIEFER SUTHERLAND, STAR, CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: I think there's a lot of different perspectives on that, but for me Steven Hopkins directed the very first episode, who is an old friend of mine. And I think he suggested me to Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran, who were the original writers of the pilot. I came in and had a meeting with Steven and it was very funny. The first time I read the very first script, I remember at the very top it said all events take place in real time and I was like yeah, yeah, yeah and I started just looking for the dialogue. And so my real attraction to the piece was I thought, A, the character of Jack Bauer was beautifully rounded. This was a guy who was in charge of protecting the incumbent president of the United States. He's responsible for the security of the nation or certainly Los Angeles and could not handle his 15-year-old daughter and was in a marriage that was falling apart. And I thought that was the perfect way to start this guy.

KING: Did you like it right away? Did you think this would go?

SUTHERLAND: I don't -- I have long since tried to give up trying to figure out whether something was going to work on that kind of a level. I can only choose a project based on my interaction with the writing and the characters that the writers have put forward. Yeah, from that perspective, absolutely, I liked it right away. And so for me, I have great faith in Steven Hopkins as a director. I have a script where the character that I think is fantastic. And then the interaction between that character, Jack Bauer and Nina Meyers and Tony Alameda and certainly all the stuff that was going on in the very first season with my own family I thought were fantastic, fantastic things. And then significantly, one of the things that I thought was the most power things was that we had an African-American president or an incumbent president who was African-American. And I thought that that was incredibly powerful and strong and I believe -- well, you can take Chekhov's speech in the opening of "The Seagull" when he says, I watch these high priests of a sacred art and he's talking about actors and I see them work within these three walls and then I see them try and squeeze a moral out of the tritest words of the emptiest phrases. If theater doesn't change, people should do without it. This was -- I believe, theater and film and television is really that powerful. And if you have and if you show a population that it is possible to have African-American people in this kind of position of political power that people believe it's possible. I thought that was a very positive statement.

KING: How (INAUDIBLE) co-executive producer as originally being a hired hand?

SUTHERLAND: I think Fox originally did not want to give me a raise so they gave me a title.

KING: But now there's Golden Globe nominations. You earned an Emmy. You've got a new contract and still though co-executive producer.

SUTHERLAND: Yes. I think one of the things is that, because we had such a high turnover of actors and that I was a constant here on the floor -- we really do work in a unique way. The writers work on the second floor and we work here. I think I made the mistake of suggesting an idea for a story line back in season one or season two and they all patted me on the head and said "oh, that's a great idea" and I never heard again about it.

KING: Jean, how did you get the part?

JEAN SMART, PLAYS FORMER FIRST LADY MARTHA LOGAN: My agents said, they are interested in you playing the first lady. I thought, I would look good as Geena Davis. But I -- I had not watched the show. I had heard about the show. I knew that it had wonderful critical acclaim and almost a cult following, fabulous fans and so this big box of videotapes arrived at my door of season four and I say down and plugged the first one in with my then 16-year-old son and it was over in the blink of an eye and it was like my God, put another one in and a third one. And then I said, do you have any homework? No, good, put a fourth one in and we watched it all in about five or six days and it just blew me away.

KING: What works?

SMART: Oh, boy. In my opinion, I think that not only is it a brilliant -- just a brilliant action show on that level but also, too, because of what's going on in the world. I think that it satisfies somehow a deep fear that we all have right now. And there's something very satisfying about watching the show from that point of view.

KING: What is it like DB, to be president?

DB WOODSIDE, PLAYS NEWLY SWORN IN U.S. PRESIDENT WAYNE PALMER: I would say it's somewhat overwhelming.

KING: Do you like the character?

WOODSIDE: I love the character. I love the character. He's by far the most interesting, complicated guy I have ever had the fortune to play. He's great. What I love about him is that he -- I think he's constantly following in his brother's foot steps and his brother was a man who was extremely noble, full of a lot of integrity. I think Wayne is the same way but I think that it is probably one of those things where maybe when they were kids and they thought about running for, maybe one day running for the presidency that maybe Wayne was teased because he doesn't exactly have the temperament for the job. He had the intelligence. He had the know-how but his temperament is something that I think he's going to continue to work on as his day goes on.

KING: Roger, how do you view being director of field operations?

ROGER CROSS, PLAYS CURTIS MANNING, JACK BAUER'S REPLACEMENT AT CTU: It's a great role. Yes, he's a straight man in a lot of ways, but it's great to have the Jack Bauer character, who's always like thinking about the consequences later, charge full speed ahead. He kind of comes in, well, as much as I would love to do that, someone has to go, let's think twice before we act and sometimes that a negative. I think what's great about this character is he's grown and he's learned that when you're dealing with terrorism or anything of that ilk, you have to sometimes put morality --

KING: Aside.

CROSS: Aside yeah, put the good guy aside and go in and do your job, whether you like it or not and be nasty.

KING: More on the cast of "24." We will meet the new villain right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back with some of the cast of "24." There will be others coming later. There will be a two-night four-hour premiere of the next season, the sixth season Sunday, January 14, this coming Sunday and Monday, January 15. A new member of the cast is Adoni Maropis. He plays the villain of the piece. How did you get the part?

ADONI MAROPIS, NEW CAST MEMBER, PLAYS TERRORIST ABU FAYED: Well, I auditioned for the part and it really didn't take much research. Believe it or not, I love this character.

KING: You like it?

MAROPIS: I love this character. He comes from a real place. He comes from a real place. He has a passion, heart.

KING: He's angry.

MAROPIS: He's angry but he has a reason. He has a personal vendetta against that man over there, not Kiefer Sutherland but Jack Bauer. And beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, right? So is terrorism. He is the terrorist, not me. So --

KING: Someone once said that a terrorist doesn't get up in the morning, look in the mirror and comb his or in your case, scalp his hair and say I am a terrorist.

MAROPIS: I'm a freedom fighter, the way I see it.

KING: So you see yourself as noble.

MAROPIS: I see myself as very noble, righteous, yes.

KING: Jean, do you think that people who love this show love it because it's so strikingly anti-terrorist or in spite of it?

SMART: Oh, boy. I don't think in spite of it. I'm sure some people do. That's the frightening thing though about terrorism or any assassin or anything like that is that usually they do, they are convinced they are absolutely right and that's why the world is so complicated and that's why we need leaders who are really educated about other cultures and who are good communicators and who can deal with someone on that level.

KING: The show takes a stance, though, doesn't it DB, pretty much on being tough?

WOODSIDE: I think it has to.

KING: Conflicting opinions offered but basically it comes down on the side of "sock it to 'em."

WOODSIDE: I'm not sure if it comes down to the side -- I wouldn't say sock it to 'em, but I would say that I think people involved in that line of work, they have to see it one way and these are the people that basically are our last line of defense. These are the guys that you want defending you. You may not necessarily always want to know how they are doing it, but at the end of the day, you do want them there. It's like that great -- what is it? "A Few Good Men" where Jack Nicholson says that line about, "you want us on that wall and you need us on that wall." and we do. That's the truth of it.

SUTHERLAND: I also think at the heart of the show, the show really isn't about terrorism. The show is about the interaction of these people, from season one on down the line. I'll give you season one as an example. It wasn't as much about the threat as the relationship that was developed between Jack Bauer and the incumbent President Palmer. It was the relationship and the threat of the relationship between me and my wife and me and my daughter. It was the threat of those characters and what was the outcome going to be and the terrorism was the scenario that was created to create this heightened sense of reality. "24" was developed and written long before the terrible events of 9/11. So you have to understand from the writer's perspective, this was the one way that you could create this time format and create a situation that would be so dire, that it would require people to solve something like this over a 24-hour period of time.

There was a fantastic moment -- I believe it was season three or season four with Shohreh, who was a terrorist but she was also a mother. And I was more interested not in the fact that she was a terrorist, but she was caught in this terrible dilemma between what she felt responsible to her cause for and what she felt responsible to her son for. And so what I think the writers have done is they've used this as a phenomenal back drop to create this incredibly heightened tension between characters that are so well developed that an audience becomes attached to them.

KING: Season six opens with terrorist attacks ad infinitum. Do you think the number fears that?

MAROPIS: Yeah, I do. I fear it myself. Just to go back, my father was in a terrorist attack 1972 at the Athens airport.

KING: You're Greek?

MAROPIS: Yes, I'm full-blooded cretin. And my dad was in Crete and my dad traveled by himself to return home and we were living the next day. For some reason he went by himself, not with any of his sons. And thank God that he saw this thing flying in the air and thought it was a football. Hit him in the knee, bounced a couple yards away. If exploded. He had a shaving kit that had a metal like ashtray, like an antique that would save his life supposedly and the person in front him died immediately and my dad survived. He said it looked like - it seemed like they were aiming at him. They brought out machine guns. They were shooting down everybody. He wrote about it in "Parade" magazine. But the thing that got me was I hated these people, the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization. But my dad said to me, he said he understood their plight and he understood where they were coming from. I was a little kid and I said, wow, my dad got shot up and he understood the plight of these people that were after him. And, you know, that just always affected me. Being Cretin, we have been conquered and we've had to re-conquer or lands. What would you do to fight for your land? Anyway, it's a big story. It's the whole Israeli-Palestinian thing.

KING: We will be right back with more -- fascinating. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with some of the cast of "24." Again, the season premiere of six season is Sunday and Monday, the 14th and 15th. Two hours Sunday, two hours Monday, a sensational beginning, by the way. Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham has said "24" is as close to a national referendum on torture as we're going to get. And because people embrace this show, it means they support using torture against terrorists. SUTHERLAND: Again, it goes back to what we were talking about earlier, is that terrorism really and this scenario was developed as a backdrop for the interaction of these characters. And the things that I think people have been relating to has been this -- this is a thriller. We have a time component at the bottom, so you know that something is going to happen. There is a threat. And -- the threat is towards these characters that you have become involved with, that you care about. There hasn't been a torture sequence that my character has been involved with that there isn't some kind of a negative repercussion, whether it's emotional. It's very simplistic to try and take what we are doing in this fantasy, in this "24," which is a television show and try and say that this is a referendum for torture or we are justifying the absolution of due process or anything like that.

CROSS: My character in season four had the scene where he has to torture the defense minister's child. But he chose not to do it. It's not been proved that he's done anything wrong. And the writers, they've gone out of their way to make sure -- it's a conflict even within these people who have to do this.

WOODSIDE: I think that's right, but I think the danger is when you have people that are watching the show, that get caught up in the show and they start to actually, I think, champion what's going on within the context of the show. And I would just piggyback what Kiefer is saying and that this is a fantasy. It's -- if people haven't noticed, there's always a nice way that we kind of wrap it up. Depending on -- I'm not so sure how nice but there's always a button. There is a resolve and life is not so -- it is just upsetting, I think, for me to hear comments like that. Because I -- I think it can push things out there in the American consciousness that's not what we need.

SMART: And everybody wants the bad guy to get it in the end -- or whoever you perceive to be the bad guy. That goes back to the westerns. But I think we all hope there's a Jack Bauer somewhere in the bowels of Los Angeles.

KING: We all want a Jack Bauer. Jean, where was your husband? Where is Charles Logan? He was in Federal custody right?

SMART: Yes, they took him in off in handcuffs.

KING: Do you know where he is?

SMART: Is it safe to say?

KING: An email question from Rosemary in Cambridge, Ontario, for Kiefer. Are there any downsides to playing Jack Bauer, like being typecast?

SUTHERLAND: Um, no. No. I have been lucky enough to have been working for over 20 years. This has been nothing but an opportunity. And I have gone through moments in my career where I had been typecast, if anything. Jack Bauer and this character helped me out of playing characters like Lieutenant Kendrick in "A Few Good Men," the character in "Phone Booth," "Eye for an Eye." I was playing a lot of heavies for a while and you can get trapped into that. This character actually helped me get out of that, in a big way.

KING: How long does a shoot take, what eight days?

SUTHERLAND: We shoot two episodes over three weeks.

KING: Concurrently you're shooting?

SUTHERLAND: Yeah. We mix them both up. We don't shoot them in order. And --

KING: Do you watch the completed version, DB?

WOODSIDE: Yes, but I'm one of those actors that I don't really like to watch my work. I hate watching myself. I just -- I don't know. But I love what everybody else is doing, so --

KING: Do the writers give you script input, Roger? Can you say, "I'm not comfortable with this?"

CROSS: Actually, they're very open to -- on set especially and it's not working, how should I make it work, make it flow? Some of our best scenes were scenes where we were like well, that's not quite working. And Particularly Jon Cassar and Brad Turner were here on a regular basis. We have great relationship with each other and if it's not working we'll sit down and we'll hash it out, rewrite it and Kiefer is great for that, too. And he comes up with some great suggestions.

KING: We will be back with more members of the cast. Kiefer will remain with us. We thank you all for being with us. Again, "24," the new season, the sixth season starts Sunday and Monday night, the 14th and 15th, two hours each night on Fox. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back saluting the incredible television hit "24", which goes into its sixth season Sunday night. With us, Kiefer Sutherland remains, the star and co-executive producer, who stars as Jack Bauer.

Joining us is Jayne Atkinson, who plays Karen Hayes -- her character is the national security adviser to the new president Wayne Palmer; James Morrison, who plays Bill Buchanan, the special agent in charge of C.T.U. in Los Angeles; Mary Lynn Rajskud, who plays Chloe O'Brien, a senior analyst at C.T.U. and one of Jack's strongest allies; and the new member of the cast, Ricky Schroder. He plays C.T.U. operative Mike Doyle, Jack Bauer's go-to guy in the field.

Jayne, is one of the unusual aspects of this show is women have power?

JAYNE ATKINSON, PLAYS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER KAREN HAYES: Yes. KING: Were you surprised at that? Normally they don't play them powerfully in most television shows of this type, not that there's anything really of this type.

ATKINSON: Well, I think that "24" is -- you know, has its finger on the pulse of what's coming. And so it's very smart for them to bring strong women into the show -- funny, quirky, smart, strong. It's amazing how people respond to a strong woman, seeing somebody who can think on their feet and take care of a roomful of people who are taking care of the country but being a mother. I don't think that's any problem.

KING: Jim Morrison -- or James Morrison. What do you like, James or Jim?

JAMES MORRISON, PLAYS BILL BUCHANAN, C.T.U. SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: James would be good. Thank you.

KING: How do you see this part?

MORRISON: I have to interject something. I love her character, too. A lot...

KING: I see.

MORRISON: ... this year.

KING: I get it. How do you see your role?

MORRISON: It's -- he's sort of become, along with Chloe, an ally of Jack's in a way that he never has before in that they appreciate in each other, I think, the need to go all the way, to do what has to be done.

KING: Do you agree with that philosophy?

MORRISON: In our position, yes. Sure. Yes.

KING: In the position you have?

MORRISON: The position we're in.

KING: ... off the position?

MORRISON: In the position that Bill Buchanan is in, sure. Yes. You have to do everything you can do.

KING: Mary Lynn, how do you view your role?

MARY LYNN RAJSKUD, PLAYS C.T.U. SENIOR ANALYST CHLOE O'BRIEN: I was written to be siding with Jack and fighting for, you know, the good of the country. And so...

SUTHERLAND: You struck a blow for the unique people out there.

RAJSKUD: I struck a blow for the unique people out there. Thank you, Kiefer.

And I think it was uncommon that I was a stronger person because of that, because people didn't want to like me and then they were sort of forced to like me.

KING: You like that?

RAJSKUD: Yes, I love that. It's the best.

KING: Rick Schroder returns to episodic television and is now Ricky again. What's going on?

RICKY SCHRODER, PLAYS C.T.U. OPERATIVE MIKE DOYLE: You know, I was 18 or 19, my agents said, "You know, you should change your name to Rick. It'll help grow up from a kid to an adult."

And I've learned the last 20 years it takes more than dropping a letter from your name to help you grow up. And so I'm more comfortable being called Ricky. And so...

KING: You're Ricky again?

SCHRODER: I'm going back to Ricky.

KING: Was it Ricky when you were a kid?

SCHRODER: It is Ricky when I was a kid. And my wife, my mom, everybody calls me Ricky. So I'm going to let that -- Rick never felt right. I felt like I was trying to be something I wasn't.

KING: How did you get this part?

SCHRODER: I came and met with some of the producers about four months ago on a different character for the show. And they said, "You know, Rick -- Ricky -- or Rick..."

Oh, no.

They said, "You know, we're going to look for something for you." And then about three weeks ago I got a call and they said, "Would you come in and meet on this."

So I met on this character Mike Doyle. And I don't know much about him. I don't know where he's going. I miss getting little bits of information.

KING: Do you have a decision, Kiefer, as co-executive producer, in the hiring of Ricky?

SUTHERLAND: In the casting, in all fairness, not really. I think one of the philosophies that has really held the show together -- and this goes to Joel and Bob -- they hire people to do the jobs they were supposed to do. And they don't micromanage everybody's work. The casting people do the casting. I think Joel and Bob certainly oversee that. The writers they've hired, they've hired to do the writing. The directors they've hired, they've hired to do the directing. And the actors they've hired, they trust to do their work as well.

And it really transcends right down through our crew. And I think one of the rare things -- and I have never done a television show before this. But when I told other people that after six years we had 97 percent of our original crew still together, people are shocked by that. And I think that really is because people are allowed some creative movement within the context of working on this show. And I think that's a real tribute to Joel and Bob and the way they set this thing up from the very beginning.

KING: When we come back, we'll ask James and the others why they think it works. We ask the other cast members what about "24" is kind of magical in a sense, that this is television that hit the core at the right time and sustains itself with incredible numbers year after year?

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I have a message for you from the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What the hell are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put these on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with members of the cast of "24". The premiere of the sixth season is Sunday and Monday night, two hours each night on Fox. Jim Morrison -- James Morrison, why does this work?

MORRISON: You can call me Jimmy.

KING: I like Jimmy. Ricky, Jimmy, Kiefery.

SUTHERLAND: It works.

MORRISON: I think what happens here is that they allow us the freedom to be collaborators, true, 100 percent collaborators in this process. And it's everyone, crew and everyone. It's amazing.

KING: Mary Lynn, why do you think it clicks?

RAJSKUD: I'm going to say more of the same. I don't think enough can be said about that. It was definitely something that struck me the first day that I was on the set, that everyone was given the ability to be creative in their capacity. And that makes the hugest difference because I think that everybody's proud of the work that they're doing. And also, the writers are so darn good at, you know, keeping it suspenseful and stressful. And you can't get enough of that.

KING: The personal lives of the characters are drawn into the show as well.

RAJSKUD: Yes, yes. On the balance, on the scale, it's more...

KING: I know. But do you think that adds to the appeal? That we learn more about them?

RAJSKUD: Well, particularly, I think, Kiefer's character because he is a human being in this incredibly difficult work that he does. To me that's what balances the show how out. We have the fear of terrorism and all of that. But we also watch a man, a real man, have to grapple with being that kind of person. And so to me, it's a one- two punch. It really gives the show depth. So you've got that draw, you've got that "Give me more" adrenaline. And you've got this pathos of this character.

KING: Ricky, is it tough to come into a successful show? You did it twice.

SCHRODER: That's correct. They made me feel so welcome here when I first showed up. I really felt like I was included. It was just a smooth transition for me. With "NYPD" there was more -- I think people expected more failure out of me. But when I jumped into that to replace a loved character like Jimmy Smits. Where this I wasn't replacing anybody, I was just coming in...

KING: A new character.

SCHRODER: A new character.

KING: You told me something, Kiefer, during the break. The show is a bigger hit out of the United States?

SUTHERLAND: Yes. I mean, it's -- and not to diminish its success here in the U.S., but the thing that has always amazed me from the beginning was from Japan, Korea, Australia, South Africa, Central -- South America, Europe, all around the world this show had transcended language barriers, which is a very difficult thing to do.

You're talking about why you think that it might click with an audience. And it goes back to its origin. And its origin is that of a thriller. And there are some very key components to a thriller, but the number one component is you have to, A) care about the characters that are involved and that there is a threat to those characters.

And the writers have managed to utilize those two components with this time component, the real time component, which I really do believe has put the genre on its ear, so to speak.

And I think all of those things combined, with the intimacy of the characters as they have developed over the six years, has led to not only the show crossing those language and cultural barriers -- because there is a sense, a feeling that I have heard from people as they describe what they like about the show because obviously, it's of interest to us.

We would love to know why an audience is clicking with it because that's what we want to be able to give them. And that's the one thing that I have heard more than anything, is that it makes them sit on the edge of their seat. And that has to be a number of things conspiring with itself and with each other to make that happen. And I think the writers have really figured out how to learn from each season to progress forward. And I think we have, hopefully, as well.

KING: James, the pace works, right?

MORRISON: Oh, yes.

KING: You feel like an hour is 20 minutes?

MORRISON: I could do something in the soundtrack of the music or something that's subliminal that -- I don't know...

KING: Subliminal?

MORRISON: IT's very manipulative -- something manipulative going on...

SUTHERLAND: Now we're in trouble.

MORRISON: I'm sure that's not the case.

SUTHERLAND: I guarantee you it's not the case.

SCHRODER: I think the show is so popular, too, because the good guys win, Larry. And people want to see still.

KING: Yes, that's still important. It's still a Western.

SCHRODER: Yes.

SUTHERLAND: The good guys win? I was on a boat to China. What do you mean the good guys win?

KING: Yes, what happened to you?

SUTHERLAND: I got beat up for a while.

KING: Yes, but suddenly you're OK?

MORRISON: He called for Chinese takeout and look what happened.

SUTHERLAND: I'm out for work right now.

KING: We'll be right back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We are at the studios -- where are we? We're in...

MORRISON: C.T.U.

KING: Chatsworth (ph), California. The studio setup of C.T.U.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They used you so Jack Bauer could get to me. Come on! Come on, admit it. You were part of it.

Why? Why? Why did you help them?

ATKINSON: Because you killed David Palmer!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUTHERLAND: I need to make one phone call. Please, just one phone call.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back.

James Morrison, what's with the mole problem with C.T.U.? People are giving the number of C.T.U. characters who turn out to be deceptive. Does this mean there are bad checks on these people?

MORRISON: Well, I guess so.

KING: Is there a flaw in C.T.U.?

MORRISON: I think there is. On a less busy day we could probably look into it. But we are preoccupied.

KING: Part of the story, huh? You can't have spy stories without mole stories.

Mary Lynn, you're a computer expert on the show. Are you good with computers?

RAJSKUD: Yes -- no, I'm not. I did get to sleep with a mole who was really good looking last year, though.

KING: That's right. What happened to him or her? Him.

RAJSKUD: He was super-fine and he thought he was doing it for the government but he was a mole, nonetheless. But I'm was still more of a computer expert than him because I'm a genius on the show.

KING: How come your cell phone never goes dead, Kiefer.

SUTHERLAND: I carry a spare battery in the magic bag that is slung around my shoulder. We actually -- in all fairness, I've done a couple of scenes where I would be in the middle of a conversation and I would say, "Stop, hold on. I can't hear you." And I'd walk to another mark. And I think had done that a couple of times, and Joel said, "Stop it. Your phone works."

KING: Jayne, do you think "24" could survive the death of Jack Bauer?

ATKINSON: You're asking me that question?

KING: Well, you're a cast member. I'm not going to ask him.

ATKINSON: No.

KING: He's central to it...

SUTHERLAND: I absolutely know it can. I absolutely know it can.

KING: It can?

SUTHERLAND: Absolutely. The format of the show is so unique and so special and these writers have figured out a way to create this panic and energy within the context of the genre of the thriller, that absolutely, to think that there's one actor who can make this kind of thing work...

KING: So it doesn't hinge on you?

SUTHERLAND: I never have believe that. And I think when an audience will, you know, they will ask that question many times. How many bad days can one guy have? And an audience will let us know when they will no longer take that leap of faith with you for that reason.

But that in no way do I believe prevents the show from having someone come in and take that place. And I've always felt that. I felt that from the very beginning.

MORRISON: You know, we have been sort of trying to believe that no one is indispensable on the show.

KING: Right.

MORRISON: And it's true. At the same time, though, without Jack or anybody else, I'm sure, it wouldn't be what it is. And not just the cast, but the crew, the editors, everybody. It's a really unique ensemble.

ATKINSON: If there was a question mark as to where Jack Bauer was, perhaps.

SUTHERLAND: We will see one day.

KING: (inaudible), series six, is this going to be the best ever? Mary?

RAJSKUB: Of course. It gets better and better.

KING: Does it get better?

RAJSKUB: Yes.

KING: Pacing better, script better, villain better?

RAJSKUB: Yes. My hair is darker.

SUTHERLAND: That alone saves the show.

KING: What do you know about your character, Ricky?

SCHRODER: I like to touch people and turn them around and manhandle them.

KING: You are what to Bauer?

SCHRODER: I do the same job as Bauer. I'm a counterterrorism agent.

KING: You kill people?

SCHRODER: Yes. I got to attack the Russians -- should I? But I got to attack somebody the other day with a machine gun, which was really kind of cool. I like guns. So...

KING: Is this -- for want of a better term -- fun, Kiefer? Is this a fun show?

SUTHERLAND: Absolutely. And I think for me, the fun has always come out of the challenge. I think we have talked a lot about how hard our crew works, and it requires an awful lot of people to kind of pull this together. We shoot, I think, a very high-end show in a very, very fast timeframe. And so the challenge is exciting. We have become a part of each other's lives over these last six years. So there's a real sense of family here. And it's dynamic. I mean, there's, you know, not a lot of times you can invite someone to the set and blow up four houses and a truck in front of an airport. And you know, it gets your adrenaline going.

KING: Continued good luck, James. James and Mary, Lynn and Ricky. And we will come back with a few moments remaining, Kiefer and just a few other guests. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to our remaining moments. Let's meet the people who put all this together. Kiefer Sutherland remains with us. We are joined by Robert Cochran, the co-creator and executive producer of "24," written many of the episodes, co-written as well. And he wrote the series' pilot. And Howard Gordon, executive producer and show runner of "24." What does a show runner mean?

HOWARD GORDON, EXEC. PRODUCER, SHOW RUNNER: Show runner is the day-to-day person who is responsible for the creative direction of the show. I basically take all the credit and take all the blame, depending on how the season is met.

KING: Robert, you're co-creator.

ROBERT COCHRAN, CO-CREATOR, "24": Yes.

KING: How did you get this idea? COCHRAN: Well, the first idea was -- Joel had for just the format. One hour each week, and the whole show would take place in one day. But we did not have any content at all for what -- no genre, no characters, no stories. Just had that one idea.

And they called me up. And my first reaction was that it's probably not possible to do that. And we sat down and worked out some stories, and we started to come up with some stuff. And sold the pilot and did the first year now. We're in year six now. And I'm still not convinced that it's possible to do, but we're doing it.

KING: Did Fox buy it right away?

COCHRAN: Yes.

KING: They did?

COCHRAN: Yeah.

KING: Off concept or pilot?

COCHRAN: Off concept.

KING: Really? And when did you come aboard, Howard?

GORDON: Right after they finished the pilot. I had a competing pilot, which didn't get on the air.

KING: Did you like the pilot, Kiefer?

SUTHERLAND: The script, the pilot script, or the pilot -- the show itself?

KING: Just the whole -- when you did the first one.

SUTHERLAND: Yes, I did. It was very funny, as I said earlier when I read the pilot, I kind of breezed through the whole description of the real-time aspect.

KING: When it was done?

SUTHERLAND: When it was done, absolutely. I thought Steven Hopkins did a beautiful job directing, and I thought it's the first time I got to see the original cast, kind of how we all worked together, and I thought that that was working well. And, obviously, I loved the script. So I felt that that came through, as well. And so all of the elements kind of connected.

KING: Why does it work, Howard?

GORDON: I think it works because there's an emotional integrity to -- it starts with Kiefer's character. We understand where he comes from, and we are taking the journey with him. And I think it works because of that. I think it works because this is just an extraordinary group of people working together. You know, I call it a band. Everybody contributes equal parts to make this thing kind of greater than the sum of any of its individual parts. It's kind of magic. It's alchemy. I don't know. I ...

KING: Robert, would it work as a movie?

COCHRAN: We have been asked that a lot. We have gone down that road. I think it would work as a movie. Sure, I think...

KING: Might you do it?

COCHRAN: We'll do it one of these days. We will.

KING: Like, at the end of the run?

COCHRAN: More likely towards the end of the run, yes.

KING: You've got Golden Globe nominations. You -- how long has it run booked for? How long is "24" contracted for?

COCHRAN: Technically just until the end of this year, but I think we are pretty confident we will be picked up.

KING: We have an email question from Dave in Belfast, Prince Edward Island -- "Any chance there might be a '24' storyline involving Kiefer's father Donald?"

SUTHERLAND: There's -- well -- there is a storyline involving Jack Bauer's father. And, unfortunately, my father was working, and so that wasn't even an opportunity. But we had a fantastic -- just a brilliant actor, James Cromwell, who is playing my father.

KING: Oh, he's great.

SUTHERLAND: And it's a wonderful sidestep in the show to actually be able to take the time to delve into -- we have a storyline dealing with my brother and my father. And to understand some of the history of -- again, where this character Jack Bauer comes from.

KING: Kiefer Sutherland, Robert Cochran, Howard Gordon and all the guests earlier. We hope you enjoyed this hour. And again, this Sunday night and Monday night, season six premiere, two two-hour shows January 13th, Sunday night, January 15th, Monday night, of the enormous success "24."

I'm Larry King. Stay tuned for "AC 360." That's next. Good night.

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