There are hints that Fox may not be willing to renew 24 after its 2010 season ends next May:
While most of the television world was atwitter about Paula Abdul’s failed contract negotiations last week, Fox Broadcasting fired the opening salvo in another looming contract battle, this one over the future of “24,” which stars Kiefer Sutherland.
Kevin Reilly, the president for entertainment at Fox Broadcasting, surprised the producers of “24” on Thursday when, in response to a reporter’s question, he said that Fox had not decided whether “24” would return after its eighth season, which is in production for broadcast beginning in January.
“We haven’t made any decision whether it’s back or not,” Mr. Reilly told Abbie Bernstein, a writer for iF Magazine, an online publication. “It’s going to come down to a business decision. It’s not an inexpensive show on the network books, and we also want to finish strong. This is not a show we want to prop up. It will be a whole creative and business discussion and something we’ll have to deal with over the next few months.”
While it was no secret that Fox had committed to the show only through the coming season, two senior television executives close to the series said they were nevertheless surprised by Mr. Reilly’s remarks.
I think it’s a sign that the network is ready to play hardball,” said one of the executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because, he said, he would like the series to continue.
With its heavy action scenes and with Mr. Sutherland earning a reported $13 million each season, “24” is expensive to produce. Fox Broadcasting will want to limit how much it has to pay for the rights to televise the series even though it is produced by 20th Century Fox Television, a sister division of the News Corporation.
My guess is we’re looking at the beginning of contract negotiations, and that, if the ratings justify it, Fox will find a way to keep 24 around for awhile.