An enthusiastic crowd was on hand in Ballroom 20 at Comic-Con International in San Diego, to see the star-studded panel of actors and the writing team behind the Emmy winning show, 24, and hear about season eight of the show.
Showrunner Howard Gordon kicked things off by answering the question he felt was on everyone's mind; the cliffhanger ending of season 7, and the impending death of star Keifer Sutherland's character, saying "Well, he [Jack] did make it through, as you'll see at the beginning of the show."
Sutherland spoke at length about how this upcoming season differs from others, saying "I think it was important to get back to where life was worth living for Jack. His partner, the reconnection with his daughter...the development of those relations took on new sides, so season seven and eight probably more than any other seasons we've done before, are really connected together."
Manny Coto also spoke about the beginning of the new season. "You see Jack, and his daughter and granddaughter, and it's a really interesting place. You realize "Gosh, we have not seen this sight in so long, and we know this is not going to last, but it makes those moments so much more important," he said.
Anil Kapor, introduced this season as a new character, President Omar Hassan, started by thanking everyone "Thank you all, thank you for being so kind and generous. I'd ask what attracted them [the executive team] to me?" Gordan nodded, saying "It's very hard to play a President, to play a leader, and we were very lucky to have been introduced to Anil, and I look forward to what we will be seeing."
Freddie Prinze Jr. is also new to the show, and said "It's not a big secret, I've been a huge fan of the show since season one, I remember thinking, "Gosh, it would be great to be on that show someday," so when the opportunity came around, I jumped at it. I'm incredibly grateful, I play a field op for CTU, he's a former marine. I think a few years ago he got involved in the Marines with a lot of emotion and rage, and the Marines brought him some focus and control, "
Katee Sackhoff, the final new member of the team, said of her obtaining the role "I think that I found out that there was a role, and, it's a long story, but I said "Get me on 24. " I play Dana Walsh, who is engaged to Cole [Prinze], who is a data analyst at CTU. I read the script and said 'This is fantastic.'"
Turning to Mary Lynn Rajskub, returning in her role as Chloe, said "I'm happy to be back on the show in general, and yeah, I'm a new mom, and on the show [also a new mom], and I'm bringing it with me...my character starts off a little behind, if you can believe that, for being such a genius, because I've been at home with my [new] son, and I have to catch up. And [the show] is still so smart and there is so much energy behind it, it's been fun."
Gordan presented the audience with an introductory clip of the new season, prefacing it by explaining that CTU is restarted. The clip begins with someone familiar coming to Jack's door, after having been shot. He claims to have critical information regarding a plot to assassinate the President,
Back at the new CTU, everything on the set is different, yet familiar. Katee Sackoff's character is, ironically, helping Chloe catch up on some of her computer work as Chloe adjusts to being back after the birth of her child.
Jack calls in to Chloe, explaining the level of the assassination plot threat, and the race is on to formulate the case. The clip ends, to loud applause from the audience.
This season is taking place in New York City for the 24 hour period. Sean Callery, music composer for the show, was asked how the setting influences his composition. "Even the new CTU set has a really different hue and appearance to it, and as you can see from that clip, all the work that was done to the point where I got started on it is so good, from the writing to the directing to the acting, "
Regarding that pretty new set, Sutherland remarked "Don't be alarmed, we do still blow shit up."
Asked about a feature film for 24, Sutherland said: "Fox and I are still researching ideas for a film. I think for us, the energy required to shoot them and all that...and we agreed, I think back in season two, that we would put off any serious discussion of a film until the show had run its course."
Regarding great, strong female characters, an audience member asked why there were no women writers on the creative staff. Gordon: replied "The fact of the matter is, you tend to work with the people who you have worked with in the past, and these are all people I have worked with before. It's like putting a band together, ".
Asked how they will capture the audience this season, Gordon said "It's peace, with the possibility of peace. What Keifer said, this next year is really the culmination of Jack, of everything that Jack has worked for, it takes a lot to keep the peace".
Focusing again on what the theme of the season will be, Rajskub was restrained from answering with complete clarity by a whisper from Gordan. So she did her best and answered, after joking around, "When life gives you some lemons you make lemonade? Uhhh more redemption? Peace?, CTU is looking really cool, there's an underground tunnel. That's not really a theme though. I'm not good with themes."
The next question was directed to Katee Sackhoff asking, after her aggressive role on "Battlestar Galactica," what was it like to take on this new role? "This is, I guess, the sweeter side of myself, for a while."
Sutherland ended the presentation with what a heartfelt message to the audience and fans. "Thank you so much. These last 8 years really are my best years, and I can't tell you how grateful I am."
Finally, speaking a bit more to the theme of the season, Sutherland said "One of the things that is most interesting about this season...we've had some amazing scenarios that are pretty far fetched, but this season is much more realistic. There is a sense of reality and what could actually happen more now than ever before. Basically, the theme surrounds a threat to peace at the UN, and if you are watching the news, it's amazing how close our writers come to what really happens sometimes, and I'm looking forward to everyone seeing it."