24, Kiefer Sutherland
Credit: Michael Yarish

Apparently Jack Bauer needs a little breather: After the completion of episode 18 on Sept. 15, production on Fox’s hit drama 24 will shut down until Oct. 9 while the writers reshape the upcoming season’s creative direction — specifically the transition leading to the end game. “We had a couple of scripts that we weren’t happy with,” 24 exec producer Howard Gordon tells “We just couldn’t get this direction to work, and we found another one that we liked better, so we wound up retooling it.”

Production shutdowns are usually cause for concern — and 24 is coming off its least critically beloved season — but Howard assures fans that everything will be on track, and the season will not be interrupted. He says that the show is ahead of schedule, which means the airing of season 7 — which begins in January 2009 — will not be affected. (You may remember that 24 had the first eight episodes of this season in the can when last fall’s WGA strike occurred; Fox decided to delay the launch until 2009.) “The only, only, only concern at all is getting it right,” Howard says. “Our feeling was this: We’re so happy with what we’ve done so far, and to the extent that we had that luxury [of time], we said, ‘Why not make it as good as we could?'”