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HOLLYWOOD - The Fox drama 24 received 10 Emmy nominations, including outstanding drama series and lead actor in a drama for series star Kiefer Sutherland, who learned of his nomination while in a car on the way to meet the press.
“We really focused on wanting the show to get nominated,” Sutherland said. “When I won the Golden Globe, it really did come as a shock to me. I remember looking out in the audience and seeing people I want to work with someday. You put that in your pocket as a really nice moment and move on.”
Sutherland said he's gotten in trouble discussing upcoming plot turns on 24, so he was fairly tight-lipped about the new season.
“Jack is dealing with a huge conflict at the outset,” Sutherland said, indicating the concept of moles will return to the show. “This season really does turn on itself a lot. The second season did not as much. This season really goes back to the first season. It gets back to a real espionage feel.”
24 will have its third season premiere Oct. 28 and, like last year, it will air commercial-free and will be sponsored by Ford.
Executive producer Robert Cochran said the new season will be set 21/2 years after the conclusion of season two and will begin the 24-hour real-time story in the early afternoon (season one began at midnight, season two at 8 a.m.).
He said hints planted at the end of season two may or may not come to fruition.
The guy on the boat? Cochran doesn't know if he'll play a role. Mandy (Mia Kirshner), who blew up a jetliner in season one and poisoned the president in season two? Ditto. What about the threat Marie (Laura Harris) made to her sister (Sarah Wynter)? It won't play out early in the season at least.
“We know we can use that stuff or not as we please,” Cochran said, acknowledging there was no particular plan in place when the season finale was written. “We had all we could to do the season we were doing without trying to figure out this season. We know we can take things and weave them in if we need to but if we don't need to, we won't.”
Did President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) survive? “I know, but I can't say,” Cochran teased. And his manipulative wife, played by Penny Johnson Jerald, did she go to jail and will she get out for good behavior? Jerald is not yet signed, but she could return.
“Everybody wants to know that and so does Penny,” Jerald said earlier this month. “I really am an unemployed actress at the moment. I can't promise anybody I'll sit around and wait for them, but I really would like to continue playing Sherry.”
“We think of ourselves as completely story driven,” Cochran said. “When we think of a good story, if it means somebody has to die, they die. If it means we have to bring in a new character, we bring in a new character.”
What about CTU operative Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard)? “I can feel that slippery slope happening,” Cochran said, hesitating to confirm any other casting decisions. “I'm starting right down the slope.”
This much he would confirm: Michelle (Reiko Aylesworth) is back, as is Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert), a character viewers love to loathe.
“How do you get that character into the main story? Kidnapping worked great but we did that on year one, but how do you do that in year two or any other year?” Cochran said. “We think we came up with something this year that may solve the dilemma.”
Cochran said the CTU headquarters has been repaired and this year there's another “tentpole mission, comparable to stopping the assassin or finding the bomb, that Jack and his colleagues will be focused on, but of course I won't say what that is.”
American Idol was nominated for an Emmy in the outstanding reality category, which is now called “reality/competition,” which fits Idol slightly better.
“They didn't know where else to put us,” said executive producer Ken Warwick.
“We are a variety entertainment television program,” said executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. “The reality is we're on live television telling it like it is. We're not going behind the scenes.”
Lythgoe said he thinks the show isn't considered a “variety” program because “in every country in the world variety is dead, so let's not call it that.
“If there were a category for reality shows with the most talent in front of the camera, we'd walk [away with] it.”
ABC continues to develop a three-hour movie based on Johnstown Flood by David McCullough. Quinn Taylor, ABC vice president for movies/ miniseries, said he's pleased with a new script about the 1889 disaster by writer Cynthia Saunders (Profiler, thirtysomething, L.A. Law).
“You really care deeply about these people and about this town,” Taylor said. “Cynthia's script was very emotional.”
If given a green light today, Taylor said, it would be difficult to have the film ready by May, 2004, due to the special effects that will be required to replicate the flood.
“It's a project we all really like that could be a television event, and there are not many of those anymore,” said ABC Entertainment president Susan Lyne, declining to name a start date for the film.
No one at ABC would commit to filming part of the movie in Johnstown about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Taylor said it was a decision that likely would be made by the film's production company, but Lyne is hopeful it will film at least in part in Pennsylvania, based on ABC's experience filming The Pennsylvania Miners' Story in Somerset.
“You get a different verisimilitude being in the place that something happened,” Lyne said.
Fox's Keen Eddie has won over a small core of loyal viewers, but not enough to earn it a second season.
“Keen Eddie is not faring very well in the ratings,” acknowledged Fox Entertainment president Gail Berman. “It was a show that we really believed in and got behind. We haven't made a final determination of its fate, but it certainly would have to show some growth.”
Translation: Keen Eddie is DOA.
Carl Reiner's script for The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited is complete and he expects the one-hour special to tape in October for broadcast on CBS during November sweeps.
Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore will reprise their roles of Rob and Laura Petrie, and Reiner is on board to once again play egotistical talk show host Alan Brady.
“It starts with the phone ringing in the old Van Dyke house, but there is something different about it because it's in color and the furniture is different,” Reiner said. “A burly man with a beard answers the phone. It's Ritchie, Rob and Laura's son. He answers the phone and says, `No, no, no, he doesn't live here anymore. He hasn't lived here in 35 years.'
“It's Alan Brady looking for Rob Petrie and he called the old number,” Reiner explained. “Alan Brady needs Robert Petrie for something and that I won't tell you! You can cut my nails and I won't tell you!”
w The Shield will return for its third season on FX in January.
w British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Glenn Close, Jennifer Garner, J.K. Rowling, Ian McKellan, Michael Moore, Evan Marriott, and Simon Cowell will be among the celebrities lending their voices to The Simpsons as it enters its 15th season this fall.
w Fox will broadcast six unaired episodes of Cedric the Entertainer Presents this fall, but after that no additional episodes will be produced.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rob Owen, who is on the Television Critics Association Press Tour, is the TV editor for the Post-Gazette.