The Deciderer's last 1000 days

If our country lasts that long....

Monday, May 22, 2006

973. The president, torture and other things

I was invited last night to a special preview screening of the hour 23 episode of "24"..... yeah, the one that's going to be first broadcast tonight. Fantastic! (At least most of the nearly 1,000 participants thought so.) The screening was followed by a panel discussion, featuring cast members, producers, writers and terrorism policy experts*, titled "24"and the War on Terror: Can Truth Learn From Fiction? organized by the Washington, D.C. based think tank Center for American Progress and Fox Television. Thoughts:

First Lady Jean Smart got the loudest ovation, significantly louder than Kiefer Sutherland.

Consistently emphasized by all parties: both liberals and conservatives work on the show at all levels.... there is NO political agenda behind the show. It's a TV show! Story imperatives dictate the action, whether it's a torture scene or the fact that cell phones always work. (Jack Bauer's two scenes over five years where he eats ended up on the cutting room floor.)

Being held in Los Angeles, virtually every question from the audience was directed towards the cast and crew, rather than towards the policy experts.

Panel moderator Matt Miller, one of my favorite all-around commentators, columnists and policy wonks did a superb job of keeping the discussion moving, interesting and on subject. He got the crowd off to a rollicking start by describing "24" as the show that asks the question "When is it proper to torture a sitting president?"

We're in deep doo-doo.

* Panel participants: Cast (Kiefer Sutherland, Jean Smart, Gregory Itzin), Producers/writers (Joel Surnow, Evan Katz, another whose name I forget, sorry), Policy experts (Morton Halperin, David Crane, Brian Michael Jenkins, Jack Weiss)


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