It's really over: "24" will end its eight-season run on Fox this May.
Following weeks of speculation, the network and showrunner Howard Gordon Friday confirmed that time's really up for Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer -- at least on the small screen. The final two-hour episode will air May 24, Gordon said.
"We entertained creatively what a ninth season would look like, and frankly we came to the conclusion that the story had run its course in the 24-hour, real-time framework," Gordon told TheWrap.
But, as has been reported, Jack may be back -- on the big screen. Gordon confirmed that a feature film -- "a more modest framework," he calls it -- is in development and that Sutherland is on board to star.
Fox's feature arm hasn't made a decision yet on when, or even whether, to proceed, however.
TheWrap and other outlets reported March 9 that "24" had been essentially canceled. There had been some talk about a shift to another network, but that's not happening (at least not now).
Other tidbits from TVMoJoe's chat with Gordon:
-- Bauer won't die in the finale. Probably.
"We really explored the full spectrum (of possible endings), from Jack's demise to a happy ending," he said. "But those seemed reductive. Jack will probably survive."
-- Does the finale set up where producers would like to see the movie go? "I don't know that it sets up the movie, but it set up where the movie likely begins," he said.
-- "The movie won't be a prequel," Gordon said.
-- If there is a movie, "I'd hope it would happen sooner rather than later," he said. "And I think that's Keifer's feeling, too." But, he added, "That's so above my pay grade."
-- Producers have been approaching this season as a likely series-ender for months, allowing them the chance to outline story arcs "that are riskier than we've done before. The last quarter of the season goes to places we wouldn't have dared go before."
Like maybe the bathroom? (Sorry, we couldn't resist).
-- The final call to end the show came just days ago, when Sutherland and Gordon, along with Fox Entertainment chiefs Kevin Reilly and Peter Rice met in Sutherland's trailer (along with studio reps) and discussed matters. "Our decision was in synch with what FBC wanted. Everyone has their own agenda, but from our point of view, the story was done," Gordon said.
-- Gordon says his highlight on eight seasons of "24" is happening right now, by shaping the show's finale. "There's always been this incredible, 'I dare you to fail' context to this show, but this is the moment I've been waiting for," he said. "You can't underestimate the sense of completion."
-- Series creators Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran are no long involved in running "24," but Gordon said he has briefed them "on the broad outlines" of how the series will end.
Some just-in statements from those associated with "24":
Sutherland: “This has been the role of a lifetime, and I will never be able to fully express my appreciation to everyone who made it possible. While the end of the series is bittersweet, we always wanted 24 to finish on a high note, so the decision to make the eighth season our last was one we all agreed upon. This feels like the culmination of all our efforts from the writers to the actors to our fantastic crew and everyone at Fox. Looking ahead to the future, Howard Gordon and I are excited about the opportunity to create the feature film version of 24. But when all is said and done, it is the loyal worldwide fan base that made it possible for me to have the experience of playing the role of Jack Bauer, and for that I am eternally grateful.”
Rice: " '24' is so much more than just a TV show – it has redefined the drama genre and created one of the most admired action icons in television history."
Brian Grazer: “I’m so proud to have been a part of 24, which has become such a cultural phenomenon. And to Kiefer and Howard and everyone who has worked on the show, many thanks.”