Kiefer Sutherland stars as Jack Bauer on 24.


REMAKE, REMODEL: Acknowledging this season’s lacklustre ratings and grumblings from fans, the producers of 24 are planning some drastic changes to the next season, which debuts in the new year, even going so far as to suggest that Jack Bauer will have found a new job, and that there won’t be any scenes set in the dim, maze-like CTU bunker.


“In a sense, it’s a reboot – in location and personnel,” co-executive producer Manny Coto told TV Guide. “We’re going to be introducing a new stable of characters, along with a couple of old ones. Jack’s not living under an alias. He’s found a place he thinks he belongs and a job he enjoys doing that doesn’t involve the government.”

Coto added: “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s no CTU next year…We’re pulling the rug out from under our characters.”

Even the villain is a departure, he said: “It’s not a Muslim terrorist. In fact, it’s not a terrorist at all. And the character is fascinating, someone with a supremely dark past who’s done something horrific.”

Elaborating on the whole Jack-Bauer-in-Rocky-V thing, Coto hinted that Kiefer Sutherland’s character might be very unwilling to save his country at first, though the villain finally pushes him back into action with an act so horrible, so bloody and fiendish and inhuman, that it would make the past season’s “nuke California” stunt seem like jaywalking. Then he shrugged and let out a deep sigh and admitted that this wasn’t at all what was going to happen, that the show’s producers had bought a bunch of old 7th Heaven scripts and were busy changing all the names so that no one would recognize them.

YOU CAN’T QUIT – YOU’RE FIRED: Donald Trump’s announcement lat last week that he was quitting NBC’s Apprentice to concentrate on a new TV venture elsewhere might have been a tad presumptuous, according to a Hollywood Reporter story. The Donald is contractually obligated to host a seventh season of the low-rated reality competition show should NBC decide to renew the show, a decision it has to make by the first of June.

“No decision has been made on an additional cycle (of the series) at this time," an NBC spokesperson said in a statement. It would cost a fortune, but it would be somewhat delicious to see the network and the famously combative businessman locked in a grudge match of a season. NBC could decide to set the seventh season outside the coastal power centres – in Nome, Alaska, perhaps, or an Arizona ghost town, to which Trump would respond by firing people randomly, or because they can’t sing “purple hippopotamus paddles panda in the park” five times fast, all the time wearing a Rosie O’Donnell mask and squealing “Look at me – I’m fat, ugly and stupid! I’m on TV! I must be a genius!” I’m no expert, but I can guarantee that it would perk up the ratings.