"24" star promises show will finally get real

Actor Kiefer Sutherland nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries for "24:Redemption" arrives at the 15th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles January 25, 2009. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Unless he’s cooling his heels in jail again, actor Kiefer Sutherland is promising that “24” will actually bear a semblance of reality when the eighth season of the real-time thriller starts shooting this month.

The actor attended a “24” DVD release party Tuesday night, one of his first public appearances since he was charged with assault for allegedly headbutting a fashion designer in New York last week.

The star of the hit show, who already is on probation for a 2007 drunken-driving case and who is due to appear in court on June 22, was tight-lipped on the assault charge, and its implications for the upcoming shoot.

Conveniently, he will be in the Big Apple anyway, since the show is moving to the East Coast for the first time next season. He was similarly mum on key plot developments.

“I can tell you that it’s grounded in a political shift that’s taking place in the world, that I actually think is probably the most realistic thing we’ve ever done,” he said.

“It’s going to be centered in one of the most realistic circumstances, because some of our stuff -- let’s be fair -- has been kind of far-fetched. But this one I think is quite possible, so I’m very excited about that.”

Sutherland, 42, stars as Jack Bauer, a government agent who tirelessly saves the world from terrorists and other shady bad guys. Each season covers one day, divided into 24 real-time episodes.

In real life, he spent 48 days in a Los Angeles jail early last year after being arrested in 2007 for drunken driving. He is now serving five years probation for that incident.

Editing by Dean Goodman