'24' Movie Plans Surface, 'State Of Play' Screenwriter Billy Ray Hired

In the pantheon of spy TV series', "24" has a well-earned place among the best of them. The ever-growing legion of fans will happily tell you, at great length, that the Kiefer Sutherland-starring action/drama serves up intense plot developments on a week-to-week basis. There's also the cool real-time gimmick: every episode unfolds across a single hour in the story's timeline.

It's that last fact which makes the series so perfectly suited to the episodic development of the story. It's also why I'm baffled by today's news that a big screen adaptation is something that may well happen, and soon. We first heard rumblings of "24" movie plans way back in April 2006, when Sutherland told MTV that a script was in development. Then, in 2007, we spoke with D.B. Woodside (President Wayne Palmer on the show), who told us that the new plan was to shoot a movie after the series wrapped up, in "one or two more years." It's almost three years later now, but it looks like the basic framework -- to shoot after "24" closes -- remains.

The idea comes from "State of Play" writer Billy Ray, Variety reports. His pitch would send Sutherland's Jack Bauer to Europe, likely with the agenda of killing bad guys and saving the world. This echoes what we heard about adaptation plans last March.

Sutherland, who also serves as executive producer on the series, has apparently seen the script and approves. More than that, he is even "eager" to turn "24," which finishes its currently ongoing eighth season in May, into a movie franchise. The adaptation would be produced by Sutherland and his fellow showrunners, creators Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow, fellow exec producer Howard Gordon, Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV.

The Variety report references "insiders" as saying that this adaptation might not arrive so quickly. It all depends on the TV series, which is not currently booked for a ninth season. The word is that Fox is waiting to see what the week's ratings bring, but the commonly held belief seems to be that the series won't be renewed for a ninth season. The series could conceivably go to another channel if it isn't renewed, but if Sutherland is already keen on the adaptation's script, at least one person will likely be pushing for a feature.