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Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer

Sunday, October 27, 2002

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

The first season of "24" ended with the shocking death of Jack Bauer's pregnant wife, Teri (Leslie Hope), which angered some viewers. But Kiefer Sutherland defends the decision.

"We knew something was going to have to give," he said. "We knew there was no way everyone was going to walk out of this fine."

Executive producer Bob Cochran said "24" never gave out a "don't worry, be happy" vibe.

"After all the stuff that happened, if everybody had ridden off into the sunset, it would have felt false," Cochran said. "That ending was true to the show."

Three endings were filmed, but only one (included on the first season DVD) allowed Teri to live. Killing Teri gives Jack Bauer a new demon to wrestle with and opens up more story possibilities, Cochran said.

The death of Teri wasn't the first shock to viewers -- or the cast. Sutherland said he was stunned when he read a script for an early episode in which Jack shot Nina (Sarah Clarke).

"I thought, oh my God, Sarah Clarke just got fired," he said. It wasn't until 20 pages later in the script that he discovered Nina was wearing a bullet-proof vest that saved her.

The new season begins 18 months after May's season finale, which Sutherland said allows for the possibility that Bauer is ready for another chaotic day.

"They've done a beautiful job in one episode of showing you where he's been and what he's gone through," Sutherland said. "I think, given his job and career, you could believe he could have another day like this."

Despite the physical demands of the first season, Sutherland said he looked forward to another day in the life of Bauer.

"On a career level, I would have to say this has probably been the most important year of my career, and my career has been 15 years," he said. "I could never look at this show and not thank it all the way home and all the way back to work."

Sutherland said more people see his performance on "24" than see his films, despite appearing in popular hits such as "The Lost Boys" and "Stand By Me." "Phone Booth," featuring Sutherland as a sniper, was set to open in theaters next month but was delayed until next year out of sensitivity to the real-life sniper shootings in suburban Washington.

" '24' also helped me, as an actor, get out of playing the bad guy. I'm grateful for the opportunity it's given me to do something different."

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