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Sutherland seeks connections in 'Touch'

TORONTO - Kiefer Sutherland says he's trying to get his famous dad, Donald Sutherland, to join him on his upcoming new father-son series, "Touch."

TORONTO - Kiefer Sutherland says he's trying to get his famous dad, Donald Sutherland, to join him on his upcoming new father-son series, "Touch."

The former "24" star plays a working-class single parent struggling to communicate with his autistic son.

"I certainly have conveyed to Tim Kring, our writer, that my father is someone who I would very, very much like to work with," the younger Sutherland said Monday during a conference call with reporters.

"And my father knows of this piece and I've certainly talked to him about it. We certainly do not have a script or a story or anything like that, but it certainly is open.

"I think one of the things that is attractive about this piece is really Tim Kring's writing and character development — they give people an opportunity to kind of show some stuff they might not normally get and I would be honoured to do something like this with my dad."

Sutherland plays 9-11 widower Martin Bohm, whose 11-year-old son Jake (played by David Mazouz) cannot talk and refuses to be touched.

Jake is obsessed with numbers and Martin slowly begins to suspect the boy's fixation on numerical sequences is an attempt to communicate with the world and may even provide clues to the future.

It's a curious mix of mystery, mysticism, action and family drama and Sutherland says its unique look at the world was instantly appealing.

"I read 'Touch' almost reluctantly, I don't think I was completely ready to go back to television yet," says Sutherland, noting he was doing a play on Broadway when he got the script.

"I identified with (Martin) out of the gate.... Obviously this is very different from '24' yet there is a real similar through line in the kind of character of the man. Jack Bauer would be faced with unbelievable circumstances in the course of a day and he would never win completely. This guy is never going to win either — he's never going to have the quintessential relationship of a father and a son and yet he perseveres. That's a great kind of character statement."

It's been about two years since Sutherland's action serial "24" left the dial, and Sutherland notes he has been busy since.

He starred in a Broadway revival of "That Championship Season" and dove into web series production with the slick serial "The Confession," co-starring John Hurt. Sutherland said he'd love to do a second season of the online drama.

Meanwhile, production is expected to begin this spring on a "24" feature film.

Sutherland says "Touch" pushes him in new ways as an actor, noting his anguished character is "terribly alone" and goes through deep emotional arcs. Those nuances are revealed through Martin's strained interaction with a social worker, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who assesses Jake's home life, and an expert on gifted kids, played by Danny Glover.

The procedural actually pulls together multiple storylines involving several characters around Martin and Jake. They include an Iraqi teen who dreams of being a comedian, a former firefighter with an odd connection to Martin's dead wife, an Irish singer dreaming of stardom, and a British businessman dealing with family drama of his own.

Each character is connected to the other in strange ways, something that Sutherland said he also found compelling.

"I do believe there is a cause and effect and a ripple effect upon everything everybody does," he says, noting the show's premise is based on a Chinese proverb about an invisible red thread that links people together.

"If you start to focus on the kind of minutiae of that it's really quite extraordinary — Should I get on the elevator now or should I wait? — and obviously we can't live our lives like that but I do believe very strongly that all of us, and all of the other things in the context of our planet with Mother Nature, all of these things absolutely have a profound effect. Some of the effects that can be felt are small and some of them are very large."

"Touch" launches in March but viewers can catch a sneak preview Wednesday on Global and Fox.

 
 
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