'24' and Holding: Sutherland's Sweet Deal

By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, April 11, 2006

One of prime time's most rewarding drinking games is guaranteed to continue at least long enough to get this year's crop of college freshmen through their senior year, with the signing of Kiefer Sutherland to star in Fox's "24" through the 2008-09 season.

Sutherland could become the highest-paid actor in a drama series under terms of the deal, according to the trade papers, citing "sources" -- which, on these kinds of stories, is often a euphemism for "the actor's talent agency" or "the studio that's going to put out the news release nationwide the next day."

Anyway, these sources said that in addition to an acting salary, Sutherland will be promoted from co-executive producer to exec producer on the series.

Naturally, executive producers make more money.


Plus, 20th Century Fox Television, the News Corp. division that produces "24" for the News Corp.-owned Fox broadcast network, will pay the overhead of Sutherland's brand-new TV production company as part of a two-year "development deal."


At his new production company, Sutherland will develop series for Fox, other networks, the Internet, wireless devices and pretty much anyone else who'll take a meeting with Sutherland's soon-to-be-named TV series development chief.

These outfits are called vanity production companies. In Hollywood, you can't swing a dead purse-dog without hitting a star of a prime-time TV hit who has a vanity production company.

Then, 20th Century Fox TV is going to pay Sutherland's shingle a "development fund" to help the new operation realize his vision.


Meanwhile, Fox has a deal for only one more season of the hit serialized drama, in which is played out, over the course of 24 episodes, one day -- one really bad day -- in the life of Counter Terrorism Unit special agent Jack Bauer.

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