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'24' scoop: Will Kiefer quit?

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The clock may be ticking on Kiefer Sutherland’s 24 contract, but don’t count out Jack Bauer just yet. Sutherland told reporters at press tour this afternoon that he’s “absolutely open” to sticking around for a ninth season.

“I’ve always said that as long as people wanted us to make it , and people were really interested in watching it, I would be interested,” he said. “There are a lot of components involved. Right now my focus is on finishing season 8.”

Fox honcho Kevin Reilly expects formal talks on Day 9 to commence next month. “Collectively, we just made a decision to launch the season [first] and then sit down in the next four to six weeks,” he tells me. “But my sense is Kiefer will want to keep it going.”

In the meantime, 24 exec producer Howard Gordon isn’t letting the uncertainty surrounding the show’s future affect how he ends season 8. “The way I’ve looked at it is that every single season [finale] could have been a series ender,” he says. “We just want to take it across the line credibly and then let the [other part] take care of itself. As long as Jack’s not dead, anything is possible.”