JUDY SLOANE'S FIRST REPORT ON THE FALL TV SEASON 2001, FROM THE TELEVISION CRITICS ASSOCIATION PRESS TOUR

Report by Judy Sloane
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Twice a year television journalists from all over the States converge at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, California, to attend days of press conferences where the networks and cable channels reveal their new programs. Here are a few of the best shows for this upcoming season:

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24 (Fox):

The cleverest concept to be presented this year, 24 has the entire series taking place in one day with each of its 24 episodes covering one hour, told in real time.

Kiefer Sutherland portrays Jack Bauer, the head of the government's Counter Terrorist Unit, who must prevent an assassin from killing Senator David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), the first African-American Presidential candidate.

Sutherland, a consummate actor with a healthy movie career, admits that he started watching television on a more regular basis over the last five years, and saw a huge improvement in quality. "Specially in the hour drama," he acknowledges, "from Law and Order to NYPD Blue and The X-Files, which is a fantastic show. I saw a lot of exciting things being done, and I couldn't really figure out why it was not an option for me.

"Then I started to read some material, and was really attracted to this series. It was the characters that I was attracted to originally. I didn't fully understand the concept of the real time scenario until we actually started getting ready to shoot it. Then I watched how focused everybody was in trying to create a concept of continuity in the show."

24's star Kiefer Sutherland  Fox

Realizing the importance of his portrayal of Senator Palmer, the first black candidate with a real prospect to become President, Dennis Haysbert states, "For me, as an actor, I see this as a unique and compelling challenge. It makes me very excited to be in this position. I think I have a unique responsibility to ensure that the integrity of this character is such that everybody will believe that (the fact that he's running for President) is possible."

With only 13 episodes being commissioned by Fox, could the series end without a resolution? Executive Producer, Joel Surnow, comments, "Obviously, if they don't pick us up, we would try and find it out early enough and tie it up after 13 episodes - and change the name of the show!"

24's cast (Dennis Haysbert 2nd left)  Fox
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Photos © 2001 The Fox Television Company. Text by Judy Sloane © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction.