Fox's Liguori, About to Step Into the Senate's Line of Fire

By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fox entertainment division President Peter Liguori has flown to Washington this week to help the Senate Commerce Committee celebrate the Impact of Violence on Children Day of Bloviation.

It will be Liguori's debut performance at a congressional hearing.

We wondered why he'd want to go within 10 yards of 253 Russell Senate Office Building, the society at these gatherings being very mixed.

Liguori is the only actual working TV executive who was invited to today's session. Other panelists are FCC Chairman Kevin Martin; Martin's BFF Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council; a big cheese with the American Psychological Association; a professor from the department of communications at the University of Arizona; and constitutional scholar Laurence H. Tribe.

"They called and asked for me," Liguori told The TV Column yesterday over breakfast.

He said he did not know why they wanted him in particular, as opposed to a counterpart at another network.

But of course it's because his network broadcasts "24," in which uber-counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer scurries around torturing people left and right while tossing off great one-liners like, "You are going to tell me everything I want to know or I swear to God I will hurt you before I kill you."

"24" is Washington politicos' favorite show that does not star Tim Russert -- remember last year's Heritage Foundation forum " '24' and America's Image in Fighting Terrorism: Fact, Fiction or Does it Matter?," attended by the secretary of Homeland Security, two national security wonks and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?

And this season, after warming up with 67 torture scenes over its first five seasons, "24" set a new world record for most tortures conducted in a single day on a TV series, prompting the dean of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to take a meeting with the show's creators, complaining that Bauer had become a bad influence on his cadets.

Presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo, on the other hand, came out staunchly pro-Bauer during a May GOP debate, saying, "I am looking for Jack Bauer at this point," when asked how he would respond to a bizarre hypothetical terrorism scenario involving shopping malls and Gitmo.

Among the audiovisual aids Liguori is expected to bring to today's hearing is a poster showing the content-ratings bug and advisories for "24," and the voice-over advisory provided by Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Bauer.

Over smoked salmon and underdone toast, Liguori acknowledged modestly that the series "happens to be" one of the "more muscular shows" on prime time.

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