AND I GUESS THEY’LL JUST CALL IT “2”? 2008 won’t be entirely Jack Bauer-free, since Fox has just announced a 2-hour TV movie “prequel” to the next season of 24, set to air in the fall and prepare viewers for the return of the series in early 2009. A Hollywood Reporter story this week announced that Fox has nixed any rumours that they’d break up the seventh season by airing the 8 episodes completed before the writers’ strike this fall, and air the balance of the show in the New Year.

Core cast members are being secured for the movie, which is being developed by 24’s producers to set up the new series, which will feature Cherry Jones (veteran of two M. Night Shyamalan films as well as Erin Brockovitch and Ocean’s Twelve) as the first female U.S. president. (Having already imagined a black president, it seems that 24 is intent on testing all probably political futures for the U.S.; if the show survives on axe-happy Fox for a ninth season, one imagines a bionic dog or one of those internet refrigerators resident in the White House.)

The movie will also be the first glimpse viewers will have of 24 without creator Joel Surnow, who left the series last month amid reports that the series would be taking a more liberal stance on its protagonist Jack Bauer and his terrorist-hunting activities. Rumours are already circulating that Kiefer Sutherland’s character would be sidelined for most of the prequel, in favour of a new character, to be played by Tim Robbins, who would foil a terrorist plot to detonate a dirty bomb at a Sheryl Crow concert by offering the terrorists floor seats and an invite to a star-studded after party.

REALLY BAD IDEAS: Just in case you forgot, reality TV — the good son of TV’s biblical parable — still makes a lot more money than the scripted shows returning to the air like the prodigal son finally crawling home, and two new series have just been announced. From reliable pop culture reality powerhouse VH1 comes I Know My Kid’s A Star, which debuts later this month and features no less than Danny Bonaduce tutoring showbiz families on how to turn their talented offspring into a star. There’s no way that could get ugly.


Also this week, the BBC announced a reality competition with the working title Britain’s Missing Top Model, a fashion mannequin competition with the twist that all the contestants will be disabled. “Our intention is to empower both the women featured in the project and thousands of others, who shouldn’t be invisible to the fashion industry just because they are disabled people,” said Richard McKerrow, creative director for Love Productions, the show’s producer. The fashion industry has, of course, been vocal in its demands for more disabled models — in addition to a need to represent the aged, short, ever-so-slightly overweight and cross-eyed, who would also seem to be conspicuously missing from the pages of Vogue as well, it would seem.

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