Interview with Evan Katz and Manny Coto of "24: Live Another Day" on FOX - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite

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By Suzanne

Howard Gordon, Evan Katz, Brian Grazer and Manny Coto

Interview with Evan Katz and Manny Coto of "24: Live Another Day" on FOX 4/24/14

I really enjoyed listening to this call. Unfortunately, I didn't get to ask a question. I would have liked to have chatted with Manny Coto at length, not just about 24 but also about "Enterprise". Ah, well! Enjoy the transcript.

Final Transcript
FBC PUBLICITY: 24: Live Another Day
April 24, 2014/11:00 a.m. PDT


Josh Governale
Evan Katz
Manny Coto


Moderator Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the 24: Live Another Day conference call. Weíd like to limit you to one question and one followup. You may then requeue and additional questions will be taken as time permits. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

Iíll now turn the conference over to Josh Governale for opening remarks. Please, go ahead.

Josh Thank you, Cathy. Good morning and afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us on the 24: Live Another Day conference call with executive producers and show runners, Evan Katz and Manny Coto. As a reminder, the 24: Live Another Day premiere event is Monday, May 5th, from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on FOX. Without further delay, letís proceed with your questions and please welcome Evan Katz and Manny Coto. First question, please.

Moderator Thank you. That will come from Josh Maloni with the Niagara Frontier Publication. Go ahead, please.

Josh M. Hi, guys. Thanks for your time today; appreciate it.

Evan Hi.

Manny Hi.

Josh M. So, guys, obviously not too many shows get a second chance like this. Iím wondering, especially for Kiefer and for Mary Lynn, but also for Kim and for William, how did the actors approach 24 the second time around?

Evan This is Evan. I think that Kiefer wanted to make sure that he understood where the character had been and somewhere interesting to go with the character when we sat with him. And for Bill Devane the same was true; weíre doing something interesting with his character we donít want to reveal. Heís president, but thereís another big issue heís wrestling with.

And the same for Kim Raver and Mary Lynn. Mary Lynnís character has had quite a radical journey, which over the first three episodes becomes clear. For Kim Raver, the last time we saw her, she was catatonic. So, of course, she came in and we chatted with her about what she had been through.

So everyone, kind of before they shipped off to London, we were all on the same page.

Josh M. Obviously, you know, the fans couldnít be happier that the show is coming back, the critics are excited that the show is coming back. What excited you guys about bringing the show back?

Manny This is Manny. A lot of things excited us. I think there was a feeling amongst all of us Ė even though when season 8 finished, and we were tired and we were kind of ready to move on Ė I think all of us felt that there was more to this story and that Jack Bauerís character was not quite ready to shuffle off the stage. Of course, there was talk of a movie, so it was generally agreed that there would be more.

So when this came around, I think a lot of our thoughts that we had been kind of percolating over the years kind of bubbled forth. I think both of us experienced people coming up to us saying I wish that show were still on the air; I miss the show; I miss Jack Bauer. And I think, you know, when the opportunity appeared, we had kind of a reservoir of ideas and thoughts about this character and where he would be now that we were able to draw on.

Particularly exciting is because he is a fugitive Ė he was a fugitive Ė and on the run from his own government. A man who had saved the United States multiple times, that same country has turned its back on him. So that is a fantastic dynamic to start a series and something that we seized on and really energized us.

At the same time, the idea of Chloe OíBrian also being, kind of, a fugitive, almost as much a fugitive as Jack, having turned her back against the government, as well. You take these two characters and you say to yourself, you know, there is an event that requires the two of them to work together to come back together and work against the very Ė and at the same time, try to help the government. Save Americans, but at the same time fighting the very government that gave them this opportunity. Itís a great dynamic weíve decided to explore.

Josh M. Okay. Sounds good, guys. Thanks.

Manny Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. Our next question is from Eric Kelsey with Reuters. Please, go ahead.

Eric Hi. With the success you see on shows like, you know, True Detective, other event shows over on FX with Fargo, what advantages do you see that something like a short run event series has today on TV.

Evan I think Ė this is Evan Ė I think that in terms of an ability to platform something special Ė I think in 24ís case, where peopleís viewing habits have changed, asking people to devote 24 consecutive weeks to a highly serialized show, you know, maybe is a bigger ask than it was 10 years ago. So I think one advantage in this case is I think itís more inviting.

I also think it is more special. Itís not going to happen all the time; itís not taking place over a year. This is a chunk of time. And it gives the network the opportunity to put more oomph behind its launch.

Moderator Is that all, Mr. Kelsey?

Eric Yes.

Moderator Alright, thank you. Then weíll go next to Tierney Sneed with US News and World Report. Go ahead, please.

Tierney Hi. I was curious Ė you know, your show has always been very vested in whatís been going on in the political sphere. I was wondering what kind of shifts in the political world you were interested in the last couple years since itís gone off the air and how they informed crafting the new season.

Manny Hi, this is Manny. There were a number of political developments over the years that we seized upon when we started conceiving the season. Things that were in the zeitgeist, things that were talked about, that we felt could lead us to a really interesting, possible villain and character for the season. That is the whole idea of government spying on its citizens and the technology and consequently individuals who appear who are trying to fight that and to counter that level.

So it led us to a fascinating character in the season who is doing just that. And it also gave us an idea for what to do with Chloe OíBrian. See, she is someone, like Jack, who has turned against the government. Jack is a man of action, so when he turns against the government, he goes, you know, in a different direction. Chloe, someone who lives behind the keyboard, how does she get ďrevenge?Ē Well, she goes the Edward Snowden route. So it opened up some interesting possibilities for the Chloe character.

And also the idea of drones, which have become larger in the military landscape since the show was on. I think we featured a drone on one season in the first eight years. But, at that time, the drones were kind of smaller and flimsier and didnít look particularly menacing. Now, the drones that are in reality and are in operation now and some that are on the drawing board are large, menacing things from the sky that can blow up entire buildings.

We wanted the show to have a flavor of its old self, but also to take into account the changes that have gone on.

Tierney Great. Then, for a followup question, this season starts in London. Can you talk a little bit about your decision to take the show there and what it was like to bring the action to London?

Evan This is Evan. You know, Jack is put into exile at the end of season eight, so I think that initially gave us the idea that, you know, sure, we could start him back here, but wouldnít it be great for him to still be in exile? And I think it was also an opportunity Ė weíd been in L.A. for the showís run, even though we sometimes set in other cities, to sort of truly take it international.

A couple of cities were mentioned, but London is A) full of this great iconography, and B) part of the story line is, is the Anglo-American alliance, which is also really interesting in the potential strings, not only that itís actually come under because of the Iraq war, but that itís going to come under because of Jack Bauer.

Tierney Great, thanks so much.

Moderator Thank you. Next we have David Martindale with the Fort Worth Star Telegram. Please, go ahead.

David Hi, guys. I love the show. Iím glad itís back. Iím sure that you have heard many times and laughed at the comments that people make over the years about why Jack Bauer never goes to the bathroom. I know Kieferís even commented about that before. And this format with 12 hours, not only does it make it possible that you all can, you know, thatís not an issue anymore, but also more important dramatically, it allows you to just focus on the really good parts of the story and not have as much risk of a slower subplot. I was wondering if you would comment about that.

Manny Hi, this is Manny speaking. Yes, the 12 hours allows us to really condense the story telling. In a 24-hour season, we kind of knew how many episodes we had to fill and where we had to go. And very often, during a season, weíd find ourselves trying to stretch out plots as much as they could go to fill up the vast material.

Here, we find ourselves really compressing the action. Weíre finding ourselves, very often, a little short of the runway as far as finishing off plots and coming up to the end of the season, and itís very challenging. So it is definitely an accelerated form of storytelling that weíre working with this year.

And if I can just address the old when does Jack go to the bathroom? Iíve got to confess, Iíve always found that the strangest comment.

David It is. I donít want to see him go to the bathroom, frankly.

Manny Jack Ė two things. Jack is off-screen for huge amounts of time on this show. I mean, he is. So why couldnít he be going to the bathroom then? Itís not like the camera is following him around and heís on-screen the entire season. So people constantly quote that as if itís the most Ė

Evan Pithy.

Manny Ė pithy revelation. And I always look at them and say well Jackís going to the bathroom when weíre on the president, which sometimes takes an entire act.

David There you go.

Manny Itís a very strange comment.

David Well, thereís a lot of it, and thatís why I even brought it up. But thank you so much.

Manny I understand, and I know youíre just quoting, and I understand. But if it actually had any weight to it Ė because the answer is so obvious, it boggles me as to why, actually, people puzzle over it.

Evan Weíre hoping this was the last word.

Manny But you know what Iím saying? He actually does go to the bathroom; we just donít see it.

David Okay, Iím cool with that.

Manny By the way, the other characters go to the bathroom, as well, and we donít see them either.

Moderator Thank you. Our next question is from Gemma Baraham with Sky 1UK. Go ahead, please.

Gemma Hi, guys. What was the greatest challenge of bringing the show to London?

Evan This is Evan. You know, the greatest challenge was making sure that Jon Cassar, our fantastic producer/director, could go there and get everything set up. He was with the show for most of its initial run, and he has managed to recreate look without, really, any of the key players.

Other than that, it really has been a tremendously smooth experience. We have a great film line producer there, Ian Smith. The film culture there and the production culture there is really fantastic and thereís wonderful craftspeople. So of all our challenges this year, London was a shining star. Thatís not been our challenge.

Gemma Okay. And youíve got some fantastic British talent in the series Ė Stephen Fry and Michelle Fairley Ė were people biting your hand off to become a part of 24?

Evan We have all our hands still in resident. You know, people have been very open minded. You know, people seem to be excited to be on the show, whether itís Stephen Fry or Ben Bratt or Yvonne Strahovski. I will say itís really been wonderful to have access to the British acting pool of these wonderfully, classically trained actors, from Michelle to this woman, Emily Berrington, whoís at the beginning of her career, and just one after another, fantastic people. John Boyega.

Moderator Okay. Thank you. Next we have Sheldon Wiebe with Please, go ahead.

Sheldon Thanks, guys, for doing this. I really appreciate it.

Manny Itís our pleasure.

Sheldon I was just wondering, any real fan of the show knows how important Chloe OíBrian is to the show and how important she is to Jack. I was wondering, you know, weíve never seen her quite like this before, and her introduction into the series is radically different. I was wondering how did you guys come to that idea, and why?

Manny When we left season eight Ė this is Manny speaking. When we approached this season, this 12-episode event, we wanted it to be something special, something different, something that will surprise, that fans will like, but will also surprise them. And we also had to take into account that four years have passed and the characters have changed radically.

At the end of season eight, the last time we saw them, Jack was sent into exile for crimes he had committed against the state and against the Russians. But the person who helped Jack go into exile was Chloe OíBrian. The very last scene of the series is Chloe turning off the satellite so Jack can get away.

Well, we have to go with that; we canít just ignore that. So the obvious place to go is that Chloe OíBrian herself came under scrutiny, herself was charged, and herself became a fugitive. Jack became a fugitive in his way; heís a man of action. He went where he went. And Chloe, who is somebody who lives her life behind a keyboard, took ďarms against the governmentĒ in her way, and became embittered and suffered her own personal tragedy. I donít know how far you were into the series, but things will be revealed as far as what she went through.

So it gives the characters a place to go to. A) Itís surprising, we havenít seen them this way before. But we also get the dramatic reward of seeing them, possibly, come together again. And possibly reawaken their old selves.

Sheldon Cool. As a followup, I was just wondering, Yvonne Strahovski is amazing in this, and Kate Morgan strikes me as having the potential to be a kind of female equivalent of a young Jack Bauer. I was wondering how that character developed?

Evan This is Evan. We really liked the idea of very, very early on bringing in a female point of view character. Iíd say the first, at least, month or so of talking about the new season was largely focused on who this woman would be, what her backstory would be, and there was a lot of trial and error, but we wanted to make sure she had a wound, some kind of wound that pursuing Jack Bauer might potentially heal. We also wanted to make sure that there was the potential for her to be able to relate to Jack in terms of personal tragedies they had experienced.

Sheldon Cool. Thanks very much.

Evan Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. Next we have Michael Moore with Please, go ahead.

Michael Hi, guys. Thanks for joining us today.

Evan Thank you.

Michael I wanted to see if you guys could explain the decision to condense the show from 24 hours into 12 episodes as opposed to, you know, maybe doing something like 24: Redemption did, where it was 2 hours of real time. Is there a reason why you guys opted to condense the 24 hours as opposed to just doing 12 realtime hour episodes?

Manny Hi, this is Manny. Well, first of all, the 12 hours are like 24: Redemption. This is a realtime series and it remains a realtime series. Thereís no difference in the way we are treating the show itself. All we are doing is presenting 12 hours out of a 24-hour period. But the episodes themselves are realtime, as Redemption was and as the original series was.

The idea for this, to do a 12-hour season, I think has a lot to do with the success of 12-hour, limited series. I think Under the Dome was something that probably sparked the network and/or the studioís curiosity about doing something like this. It makes it a special event; it makes it something to catch.

Weíre not restarting the series, we are presenting the next day in Jack Bauerís life, and in the 12-hour format, it becomes a, hopefully, a must watch event because itís a one-time thing. So I think the 12-hour format was attractive in that respect.

I also allows us to, you know, for us, as writers, itís been fun to condense the storytelling into this 12 hours. I mean, we find ourselves, when we look down the runway of the season, we donít have 24 hours to fill, whereas in the old series, very often we might try to stretch things out because we knew we had so much time. Now weíre finding ourselves with the end in sight and really working to resolve all of our story lines. So itís becomes more compressed and more exciting, we think.

Michael Great. Thank you, guys.

Manny Thank you.

Moderator Thank you. Our next question is from Sabrina Bowman with TV Equal. Go ahead, please.

Sabrina Hi, guys. Thanks so much for talking with us today.

Manny Hi.

Evan Thanks.

Sabrina My question Ė when you spoke earlier about spying and technology Ė I was wondering how has Jack remained underground in todayís environment?

Evan This is Evan. You know, living off the grid is something that I think is really interesting to us. Most of what happened over the last four years at least begins as a mystery, which we unpeel a little bit over the course of the 12 episodes. We just simply assume that someone with Jack Bauerís tremendous skill set and knowledge Ė since he was a hunter, he knows how to avoid hunters.

Sabrina Thank you. As a followup, could you talk a little bit about how he fits into the world now that he has to go back into Action Jack Mode?

Manny Hi, this is Manny. One of the fun things about this season is that, actually, Jack doesnít fit into the world. Itís a challenge for him to find his place back into the world, and thatís actually part of what this season is about. Can Jack return to what he was? And the question is definitely up in the air.

This is a man who wasnít just exiled, but something has happened to him over these four years where he has been in exile and he has been running. There is a mystery as to what he was up to, there. Did Jack go through a period where he was not a hero? Where he turned, for lack of a better phrase, to turn to the Dark Side? We donít know. But itís an interesting mystery. Iím saying we know, but you donít know, yet. Itís an interesting mystery thatís part of the season. You hit upon Ė one of the themes that weíre working with is that Jack possibly return to this world?

Sabrina Awesome. Thank you, guys, so much.

Moderator Thank you. Our next question is from Christine Montgomery with Go ahead, please.

Christine Hello. Iím wondering why do people who have never watched an episode of 24 have to watch this series?

Evan This is Evan. I think that weíre delivering something thatís not on TV right now. I think itís just as intense a thriller as it ever was. I think, if anything, itís on a larger scope, and the scale is extremely impressive. Itís a much more international show.

You donít need to have, certainly, watched 24 before Ė weíre very careful to make sure people are brought up to speed. But we just feel that Jack Bauerís become part of the cultural iconography out there and this is a good, 12-week Ė actually 11-week, because the first two are airing in one night Ė way to have a great roller coaster ride. If you havenít seen it, see what all the fuss was about.

Christine Great. My followup question is the both of you have worked on some pretty high profile series since 24 Ė Awake, Dexter. Has working on these shows changed your approach to 24?

Manny This is Manny. I would say, probably, in my case, I canít speak for Evan, I would say no. I was on 24 before Dexter Ė I was on Dexter Ė and I was on 24 before Dexter, and I found that Dexter, in many ways, was not unlike the character of Jack Bauer. I mean, it was a different style of writing Dexter. Totally different. Dexter, you know, was filled with dark humor.

But, in a very interesting way, both characters had similar challenges, that they were both outsiders who were trying to right wrongs and were both anti-heroes, or became anti-heroes. Dexterís, obviously, a much more radical anti-hero than Jack was. But they both kind of went in the same arch, meaning they both ended up losing, at least in Dexterís case, ended up losing everything he tried to gain because of who he is, and thatís not dissimilar to what Jack Bauer goes though. In fact, the more lives he saves, the worse his own life seems to become.

So for my case, it was simply just a change of tone. The storytelling techniques were not that dissimilar. 24 has its very own style, and you really have to just be able to kind of shift over to the 24 rhythm and speed.

Evan This is Evan. I would say that itís rare for anyone to be on a show where all the elements came together and found themselves and the show became this tremendous thing. I would say Iíve enjoyed all the work Iíve done since, but it felt really good to get back into the driverís seat here.

Moderator Thank you. Due to time constraints, our final question will come from Virginia Rohan with the Record Newspaper. Go ahead, please.

Virginia I loved the first two episodes.

Evan Thank you.

Virginia Really wonderful. Could there be another season Ė or if you want to call it another event Ė if this does as well as we hope it does?

Manny This is Manny. Nothing is impossible, but we are treating this season as a one-time miniseries. A one-time series event. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and the ending could be the end of 24 for good, if you look at it that way. It depends on how you look at it.

I guess my answer is: itís possible, certainly. Obviously, itíll depend on eyeballs, if people tune in. But one thing to keep in mind is we all came back to tell this one last story, one last day in Jack Bauerís life. If thereís more beyond, weíll cross that bridge when we get there.

Virginia Good. You probably canít say, but will Tony and/or Kim be back?

Evan We canít say.

Manny Yes, we canít say.

Evan You are correct.

Virginia Correct, okay. Well, thatís good.

Manny We will neither confirm nor deny.

Virginia Okay, thanks very much.

Manny Thank you.

Josh Alright, everyone, thank you very much for your time this morning and afternoon. Evan and Manny, thank you, again. As a reminder, the 24: Live Another Day premiere event is Monday, May 5th from 8:00 to 10:00 on FOX. Thank you.

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