’24’ Backlot Talk

Jan 30, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Chuck Ross: Hello again everybody. It’s Chuck Ross, editorial director of TelevisionWeek magazine. And we’re talking this morning with Howard Gordon, executive producer and show runner of “24.” Good morning Howard.
Howard Gordon: Hey Chuck. Good morning.
Mr. Ross: How ya doing?
Mr. Gordon: Good.
Mr. Ross: So we had the debut last night of James Cromwell playing Jack’s father, Phillip Bauer. Pretty exciting show.
Mr. Gordon: Yes, this is something we’ve been looking forward to for years, trying to meet Jack’s father and see some other side of his family.
Mr. Ross: I thought the way you integrated that with the plot and twist were really well done. But let’s first go to an earlier element of the show, which was pretty surprising for most of us, which was the resignation of Karen.
Mr. Gordon: It just felt inevitable, and it felt necessary and a way to sort of heat things up at the White House. In some ways isolate Wayne Palmer from his only and deepest ally inside the White House and put a finer point on Thomas Lennox’s character, certainly his agenda, and introducing Chad Lowe, who I think was terrific as Reed Pollock.
Mr. Ross: Yeah, that was great. I can smell mischief there. [Laughs]
Mr. Gordon: No good can come from this.
Mr. Ross: I also like the idea that you left things open with Karen, saying that she can come back to Los Angeles.
Mr. Gordon: I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Karen. I thought that scene between she and the president was particularly moving; I really loved what she did.
Mr. Ross: I thought it was really well done. I think you guys nailed it. One of the questions I did have, I was on some fan boards this morning; some of the people thought that maybe she would fight back a little more…
Mr. Gordon: That was a note that we got from the studio and from the network and frankly, from my family last night after they had watched it; and the reason was that she was really protecting- I think you have to think about it for a moment and realize that ultimately, to fight back would probably mean destroying her husband’s legacy and career. So that was a price in that moment she wasn’t willing to debate. But also it’s interesting because I think she lets herself off the hook there, and all of us, when she tells President Palmer he can do this, he knows best, he needs his own counsel best. That was actually Jayne’s addition; she came to me and felt that piece of the scene was missing and I think that was the most important piece.
Mr. Ross: So that came from her knowing her character so well?
Mr. Gordon: Yeah, exactly, and I think maybe even responding to what you just said, that I’m going down without a fight or without even sort of giving him a benediction at the end, which is kind of what she does now.
Mr. Ross: Actually, that was my favorite moment of the scene, and I think what that also brings to the party is the fact that I think we’re going to see, hopefully we’ll see President Palmer steps up in a way that maybe we’ve haven’t seen him here to date.
Mr. Gordon: Yeah. Exactly.
Mr. Ross: You were wonderful last week, Howard, when we mentioned to you that we were going to try and see if we could mix this up with some of the fans, who are so loyal to the show and so loyal to listening to these podcasts. And we’re going to get someone on the phone right now. Margaret, are you there?
Margaret Phillips: Yes, I am.
Mr. Ross: Howard, we have Margaret Phillips on the phone from Fort Worth, Texas, and Margaret, you told me earlier that you have seen the show since Day 1.
Ms. Phillips: Yes I have.
Mr. Gordon: That’s great Margaret, thank you.
Mr. Ross: Howard is eager to hear what question you have about the show, so please, give it a shot.
Ms. Phillips: O.K. Well, each season there seems to be a different element of the family theme or dynamic that’s explored. And for this day, you have brothers: you have Fayed trying to avenge his brother, you’ve got Wayne, floundering and trying to follow in the footsteps of David. So at what point was it decided to continue the theme by having Jack have a brother, and I’m curious as to who was the first one to suggest that it actually be Graem?
Mr. Gordon: Well, all I can tell you is that there were five writers in the room at the time, and I’m sure every one of them would tell you it was their idea. [Chuck laughs.] But it was actually mine. [Laughter.] But, I don’t remember at what point in the process- I do remember we were all very excited, but I don’t remember quite the evolution of it. Of course I really do think it was mine, but I could be wrong at the same time.
Ms. Phillips: Well it just seems to be one of those moments that in the writer’s room … everyone would’ve been picking each other’s jaws up off …
Mr. Gordon: Well yeah, it was one of those moments where we had one of those epiphanies that this is such a bad idea that maybe … it’s so bad that it may actually be a great idea … and that felt like one of them. I think there might have been one or two people who resisted it, but I think soon we all said, No, this is too good to pass up.
Ms. Phillips: Well it’s certainly been a tightrope, but I don’t think you’ve fallen off yet.
Mr. Gordon: Well I thank you. But I also think, I hadn’t thought of this, it’s interesting, but you’re exactly right. The fact that brothers are featuring in all three stories is great and honestly not by design.
Ms. Phillips: Hmmm. That’s interesting, but I’ll continue to give you credit anyway. [Laughs]
Mr. Gordon: Thank you, but give our respective unconscious credit. I always think that there are deeper things that we’re not aware of as we’re telling the story, so that’s great to hear.
Mr. Ross: Thank you Margaret so much, and thank you Howard for answering that question.
Ms. Phillips: Thanks.
Mr. Gordon: Bye Margaret. Thanks.
Ms. Phillips: Bye.
Mr. Ross: Howard, I sort of want to follow up on that and ask a “how-to” question: Given how you guys decide these things and the actors, when they’re in a scene- for example, last season Graem didn’t know he was Jack’s brother. It also leads into the talk we had earlier, like President Logan, when you were filming the first episodes last year, didn’t really know the turn his character was going to take. What kind of feedback do you get from the actors-the fact that their characters kind of take these 180-turns – do they feel they would’ve acted differently had they known?
Mr. Gordon: You know, sometimes we get that, but by and large they act and play the moment until otherwise notified. It does keep them a little unbalanced and is sometime challenging, but ultimately it’s our job to track what’s been played and if we’re going to make a move like that, then to make it consistent. And unfortunately, someone like him [Graem] in particular, he was kind of a cipher, he was just a bad guy with a Bluetooth phone. So it was perfectly conceivable that he was Jack’s brother.
Mr. Ross: Well I thought the interaction between him and Jack at the end of the previous hour and then continuation last night was a great cliffhanger ending and a great twist at the end there again. I can’t wait until next week. Thank you so much Howard; we’ll talk to you then.
Mr. Gordon: Thanks Chuck. Talk to you later.

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