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’24’ Backlot Talk

Feb 13, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Chuck Ross: Hello again everybody, it’s Chuck Ross here at TelevisionWeek, and on the phone we have David Fury. Welcome David.
David Fury: Thank you, Chuck. Good to be here.
Mr. Ross: Well thank you very much. David’s new here to our discussion. As fans who have been listening to this for the last two seasons know, we usually are talking to Howard. And Howard, I think, is on secret assignment from CTU this morning, so David has been asked to come in and talk to us and we appreciate it.
Mr. Fury: Yeah, Howard’s busy torturing.
Mr. Ross: There you go. And David is one of the co-executive producers of the show and co-wrote, or you wrote by yourself last night’s episode?
Mr. Fury: Co-wrote.
Mr. Ross: And it was pretty exciting having two hours to feed our fix of “24.” Mr. Philip Bauer is turning out to be one of the nastiest guys I’ve ever seen on television.
Mr. Fury: Quite the evil villain.
Mr. Ross: Are you guys worried at all that sometimes you can get the villain doing things that are actually too nasty? This guy has turned on his son; he’s threatening to turn on his grandson. This is pretty nefarious stuff.
Mr. Fury: Yes he is, but when you’re trying to find a villain in the sixth season of a show, you certainly can’t hold back and make him just a little evil. And certainly the fact that he’s Jack’s father I think gives us the impetus to try and give a little background to what makes Jack who he is and what drove him to be who he is. And yeah, sometimes we need to go to difficult places with our characters, but what’s part of the beauty of the show is that sometimes we pull that back. We try to give all the villains or bad guys on the show at least their own motivation and their own rationalizations for their actions and sometimes people buy it and sometimes they don’t.
Mr. Ross: Because of all the great action last night, there was a lot of real good emotional moments, one of them with Jack and Buchanan when Kiefer did a great job saying, “I shouldn’t have come back. Maybe I wasn’t the guy that should be handling this. Time has taken its toll on me.”
Mr. Fury: Yeah, that was a nice little scene that sort of brought back some of the issues of the earlier episodes of the season that some people think we’ve forgotten about, but that Jack is damaged goods; he is somebody who has been through a hellish experience and he’s not quite the same as he was. His judgment’s a little impaired and he knows it. And sometimes he goes too far and sometimes he can’t bring himself to go far enough.
Mr. Ross: I also like the idea that Morris isn’t the person that Jack is in the show, nor should he be, yet Jack has a hard time understanding that everybody isn’t up to his standards. I mean this is a man who didn’t speak for two years in China and God knows what they did to him. Which brings me to another point. Something that fans have mentioned is they’d like to see more of Chloe this season. She’s done some stuff. It looks like she’s stretching a little bit with her relationship with Morris, but we just haven’t seen enough of her. How do you feel about that?
Mr. Fury: I couldn’t agree more. It’s always wonderful to have Mary Lynn in the story; it’s just that we’ve played out so many stories with her. We tried to find different angles to do with her, but unfortunately if what she’s doing isn’t servicing the story and we can’t find something for her we have to unfortunately pull back. She’s not going anywhere and certainly we’re always looking for more things for her to do. But I thought it was really interesting, the dynamic of her and this man that she loves, Morris, and what he had to go through and about her having to kick his ass a bit to get him to get back into the saddle. Those are the things we tried to find; the quirkier aspects of her were still evident there when she told Jack, “I’m really glad Fayed didn’t kill you this morning,” her great understatement. But as far as the rest of the season, we’re always looking for things for her to do, but this might not be a season that showcases her as strongly as before.
Mr. Ross: One of the things we started with Howard is the fact that we’ve had some viewers and readers talk to him and ask him questions. And I’ve got one or two this week, but the gentleman, his name is Mike Wheeler and he lives in Connecticut, he didn’t want to do this himself so I said I would do it in his stead. He asked if you guys have made any changes based on viewer feedback in the early hours, knowing that the show, when it debuts, is not finished shooting.
Mr. Fury: Actually, that can certainly be the case over the last few seasons because we’re very heavily into the season before the show starts airing. We’ve got easily half the season produced before the first episode premieres, so it’s very hard to adjust ourselves to any fan feedback. We have to rely on our own judgment and hope for the best and hope that people respond to it. In the earlier seasons … again I have to think that certainly Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran are very confident in their own estimations on where the story should go. I don’t think they were ever affected by fans’ responses.
Mr. Ross: He sort of adds a corollary to that, which is have you ever tested fan reaction to possible plot twists by floating some trial balloons on blogs or message boards before they are actually set in stone?
Mr. Fury: No; nothing like that. With every plot development that happens on the show, you’re going to get a disparate amount of opinions that it’s not going to be something you’re going to be able to take a poll and say, “Well 36 people thought it was a good idea for President Logan to be a bad guy and 18 thought not a good idea.” There’s just no way to write that way. We have to rely on our own judgment and these things are very fluid here as well. We wind up changing our minds about characters very much mid-stream; sometimes it’s in the writing, sometimes it’s in the editing, post production, but we’ll adjust accordingly. But it’s really by our own estimations.
Mr. Ross: The 800-pound gorilla that I’ve sort of ignored that’s sort of hanging in the room, and I know a lot of folks have seen it because I’ve been reading the boards, is The New Yorker article that came out this week which talks very specifically about the torture scenes in “24.” And according to the writer there was a meeting that some folks from West Point and some other folks came by the set to meet to Joel and some other folks about the torture sequences. In particular what they were concerned about it seemed, is that when they were talking to recruits and folks in the military and telling them about how to interrogate people that folks have seen “24,” some of these recruits, and think that that is actually the way it should be done.
Mr. Fury: Yes, that was the message they were putting forth to us and unfortunately for those of us who weren’t there, I was in the middle of the script at the time and working with Ken, but from my understanding, it’s disturbing to think that members of our military that are learning their techniques and training are getting it from entertainment like “24.” One would think that their training would be far more extensive in the real world and that they’d understand that this is a heightened reality. Certainly the events that happen in a 24-hour period of Jack Bauer’s life cannot be applied to real life, but it seems that some people do. But as much as we respect the idea, the opinion about torture in the real world, about whether or not is does work or doesn’t work, and in most cases it doesn’t, it certainly serves a dramatic purpose for our show; and it’s very hard for us to adjust to a realistic depiction of torture, which usually goes on for weeks and months, when we only have 42 minutes for Jack to get information out of somebody. So it was sort of an interesting impasse, one that we can’t really address except to give messages to those people out there in the armed forces: Listen to your commanding officers. Listen to your training. Don’t be learning anything from watching entertainment like “24.”
Mr. Ross: There’s a lot of discussion about various things that happen on television and their influence. Does television have too much influence on people and does television have a responsibility, regardless what show it is, to be more realistic?
Mr. Fury: Well, that’s certainly a loaded question because it just gets into … right now TV is rated, American television has ratings on it, and there’s certainly there’s a warning at the beginning of every episode of “24” that parental discretion is advised because of the graphic nature of it. If we were to then censor ourselves out of fear that people would be imitating what we’re doing, then I think we would be in a very bad place as a country. We’d start censoring ourselves, and when that starts, where do you stop? There’s so many things that could influence. People could be jumping off buildings because they’re inspired by heroes to try and fly. I mean at some point you have to just say, “Look, this is not the real world. This is not reality.” And do we have a responsibility to depict reality? No, we don’t. We have a responsibility to entertain, to be a diversion, and whether we go into something that’s graphic or something that’s shocking, that’s all part of the experience of being entertained.
Mr. Ross: Well that was certainly articulate and I appreciate you for …
Mr. Fury: It’s not Howard Gordon articulate, I know that …
Mr. Ross: Please, David it’s every bit as much as Howard. Thank you so much for not ducking it and going right after the question. So thank you so much, and we want to thank you so much for the time doing this and we’ll be looking forward to talking to you again later in the season, Howard as well, and thank you so much for you time.
Mr. Fury: You betcha. Take care.

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