Hangin’ with Howard Gordon

Great time last night at Park Road Books at the meet and greet/book signing with Howard Gordon. He was there promoting his new book “Gideon’s War” (Link to its Amazon page here and it’s GREAT so far: http://amzn.to/dHAQra). He took a lot of questions from people that came out on last night which was a very cold and wet evening.

  • On the 24 film: Like I tweeted yesterday, the film continues to be on hold at the moment, but Gordon seemed extremely confident that the film was going to get greenlit in the near future. He mentioned two reasons why the original Billy Ray script wasn’t accepted by 20th Century Fox: There was no real hook to the script that made it that noticeably different from an episode of the TV show. 20th wants a stand-alone film that can be easily identified as the film rather than the show. They also insist on having another big-name actor to star alongside Kiefer Sutherland in whatever role, villain/partner/whatever. Gordon didn’t elaborate, but I took that to mean that they wanted it for purposes of marketing and promotion. But again, don’t freak out, my impression was that he was extremely optimistic about the film getting made. It’s just going to take a little longer than we were hoping for.
  • On the ending of the 24 TV series: I asked Gordon to clear up some things about how the decision to end the show came about. He said that he was originally going to end after Season 7 because that was when his contract expired. The suits at Fox convinced him to keep going (me: probably more money) for one more season. So the thought of how they were going to wrap the show up started back in Season 7 when the writers recognized that a lot of the contracts for a lot of the key people on the show were expiring soon. He mentioned again how he didn’t really have a good hook for a possible Season 9 anyway. Also, Kiefer felt the time was right for the show to end after Season 8. So you add those things together with the rising production costs (mainly the salaries for the cast/crew) and the ratings being lower in Season 8 and the executive producers and Fox were in agreement that the time was right to end the show.
  • On the torture thing: Howard went over a lot of the same stuff you’ve probably read before in prior interviews, but he did pinpoint an article by The New Yorker by Jane Mayer on the issue of torture in 24 during Season 6 that really got the whole torture controversy going in the media. He promised us that nobody in the writers’ room ever mentioned adding torture into a scene because of someone’s personal political agenda, they did it purely for the story. Also, he named Kurtwood Smith’s Sen. Mayer character (the guy questioning Jack at the subcommittee at the start of Season 7) after Jane Mayer so he could get the satisfaction of Jack shutting this Sen. Mayer down.
  • On killing off lots of different characters: He said he never regretted killing a single one of them off and that the unpredictability of most of the deaths was one of the things that made 24 what it was.
  • On his new Showtime pilot “Homeland”: Talked about a lot of the main cast like Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Mandy Patinkin. Someone mentioned Patinkin’s penchant for leaving shows early and he said that would be a problem they would love to have because it would mean the show had been going on for a while. He seemed extremely confident that Homeland would be picked up by Showtime and he had heard it was likely to be paired up with Dexter. When I mentioned I had met Greg Itzin at a 24 event a couple of years ago and lobbied to have him on Homeland, he said he’d love to eventually, but Showtime really wants them to stay away from any direct 24 comparisons at least early on.
  • He also mentioned he had just handed in a script to NBC for a potential new pilot called “Legends” in reference to the CIA term. Probably another spy thriller.

That was all of the information you guys were probably interested in. Howard Gordon was a great guy, extremely open to talking about whatever. He was impressed with social media when I told him I had found out about the book on Twitter and the actual event last night on Facebook. So check out Gideon’s War at the link at the top of the page to support HoGo. It’s a real Michael Crichton-like page turner.

Don’t forget to follow me at twitter.com/tvisgreat. Any questions/comments can be posted here or you can tweet me.

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