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TCA press tour: '24' torture is 'a dramatic device,' Kiefer Sutherland says

January 13, 2009 |  1:03 pm

Kiefer Sutherland wants to make sure you understand: It is, generally speaking, not OK to shoot your boss in the head.  Just because Jack Bauer (Sutherland) does it on "24" doesn't make it right.
Sutherland and "24" executive producer Howard Gordon used part of their session at the TV press tour in Universal City on Tuesday morning to brush aside criticisms that the Fox thriller, which just started its seventh season, condones torture and other morally dubious procedures. The show has faced such criticism almost since its debut in 2001, but the danger of seeming out of step is especially acute now in the waning days of the Bush administration, with many liberals demanding investigations into administration counterterrorism practices.

In the show, torture "is simply used as a dramatic device," Sutherland told reporters. "In reality, they'll tell you less than 10% of information they get from situations like this proves helpful."
He added: "Underneath that, we certainly raise moral questions of what's right and wrong."

Referring to when Bauer killed his boss, Ryan Chapelle, at the behest of the president, Sutherland said, "We're not condoning that. It's part of the show."

Gordon said that, going into the new season, he was sensitive to the fact that the show had taken "quite a bit of heat" for "allegedly" promoting rogue methods. But even when invited to do so, he didn't want to overplay comparisons between President-elect Barack Obama and "24's" female president, Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones).

"They're both aspirational, is the best way I can describe it," Gordon said.

--Scott Collins