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A Jack attack (david boreanaz mention)

Bill Brioux

Sunday 30 July 2006, by Webmaster

Sutherland says Bauer’s ’at the end of his line’ when the new season of 24 gets underway

PASADENA, Calif. — When we last saw Jack Bauer, the 24 action hero was being beaten to a pulp and hauled off to a Chinese torture cell.

Bauer, or rather actor Kiefer Sutherland, looked tanned, relaxed and — very unlike Jack — happy at Tuesday night’s Fox press tour party, an All-Star affair that Hugh Laurie (House), David Boreanaz (Bones), Courteney Cox Arquette and David Arquette (the upcoming FX series Dirt, about dishy tabloids), David Foster (the upcoming reality show Duets), Brad Garrett (’Til Death) and JR himself, Larry Hagman (guesting next season on Nip/Tuck) all attended.

Sutherland, who stood with his requisite pack of Camel cigarettes in his pocket, figures 24 will pick up about a year-and-a-half from when we last saw Bauer. "We just got the first scripts," he told a scrum of reporters.

He was typically sketchy on other details, but admitted things look pretty grim for Jack. "He’s at the end of his line. Something’s going to have to really rejuvenate him from the position that he’s in," said Sutherland, "otherwise he’s just going to be dead."

He added that it will be interesting this coming season, which starts again in January, "to come from a really deep dark place and actually try to come up instead of starting from an up position and trying to go down."

Asked if Kim Raver, who played Jack’s lost love Audrey Raines, is through with 24 (she’s joined the cast of ABC’s The Nine), Sutherland said don’t count her out yet. "She’s contractually free to do both shows," he said. "We’ll have to see what happens."

Some reporters were surprised Sutherland was at the press tour at all. His show is going into a sixth season and he’s made his millions from syndication and DVD sales. This is usually the point where a big shot like Sutherland bails, at least until that farewell season is announced.

Still, the Emmy-nominated actor feels a certain loyalty to TV critics. "We wouldn’t have been picked up if it wasn’t for this group five years ago," he said. "We were on the fence and teetering off it in the wrong direction." He added that 24 "has been the most amazing experience of my career to date."

I had to ask him about one nagging detail from last season’s finale that to me at least just didn’t ring true. Why, given that Bauer was reachable via cell phone from all over the world, was he lured to a pay phone to take a call from his daughter? (It was all a set up; after saving the world yet again, Bauer was ambushed there by Chinese terrorists).

"That’s interesting," said Sutherland, who attempted an explanation. He pointed out that Bauer had been estranged from his daughter Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) and when they briefly reunited last season they didn’t exchange numbers. "In fact, she wants nothing to do with me," he said.

However, Sutherland admitted, "why CTU couldn’t route her to my cellphone, that’s a problem, yeah."

HOUSE CALL: Despite being tricked into an operation last season, Hugh Laurie says his cranky super doc character hasn’t completely thrown away his cane. "There’s a 50/50 chance his symptoms will come back," Laurie reminded us, hinting he’ll be limping again soon.

Laurie recently made headlines when it was reported in the trades that he’ll be pulling down a whopping $275,000 US per episode next season. House is easily Fox’s biggest drama hit, drawing close to 25 million viewers a week.

A humble and private man, Laurie winced when I brought up the big dough. He already refuses to acknowledge that House is a hit. "I’m superstitious," he says. Does the big money add to the pressure of keeping it a hit? Laurie, rolled his eyes, hunched his shoulders, looked at his feet. "You can write that the question made him very uncomfortable," he said. So noted.