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    Rumor Patrol: Is TV's 24 Ending? Will Freddie Prinze Jr. Become the New Jack Bauer?

    Kiefer Sutherland, Freddie Prinze Jr. David Wakeling/ZUMAPress.com; Jim Spellman/Getty Images

    If a 24 movie really is in the works, someone should tell Kiefer Sutherland.

    Just last month, Kiefer himself told us he wouldn't even consider doing a 24 movie until the TV show was done. "We have developed some ideas through 20th Century Fox Films," Kiefer said. "And we've all agreed that until we finish the [TV] series, we would not focus our attention on the film because this [the TV show] requires all of our attention. We're not starting a film anytime soon."

    So now that a screenwriter has been hired for a 24 flick, does this mean the TV show is ending? Or how about the rumor that Freddie Prinze Jr. will take over in some capacity on TV? Here's the scoop…

    According to insiders, the 24 movie might not be as close as recent reports would lead you to believe. While a rep for 20th Century Fox studios tells us, "We are in discussions with [State of Play and Shattered Glass screenwriter] Billy Ray to write a script based on his original idea," I'm told that the movie will probably only happen after the TV series has ended.

    And although there are no deals in place for a ninth season (the studio's contracts with both the network and with Kiefer expire this year), Kiefer has said he wants the TV series to continue on.

    "This has been an unbelievable experience for me," Kiefer told us a few weeks ago. "It's been a learning experience, and unbelievably gratifying. So I've wanted to make this show as long as an audience is there to watch it. We've had the most loyal fans you can imagine stick with us from day one. So as long as they're watching, we'd love to make it."

    Though 24's audience has dipped about 10 percent this season, it's still the third highest-rated Fox show, with more than 11 million viewers.

    As for the rumors that season-eight addition Prinze (Agent Cole Ortiz) might get some sort of 24 spinoff, possibly with onscreen love interest Katee Sackhoff (Dana Walsh), Sackhoff herself tells us no one has talked to her about it: "I've heard the spinoff rumor, and I have no idea! I've heard this may be the last season, and I've heard this won't be the last season. There are so many factors that go into that, it's so far above my head."

    The rumors most likely started up because Freddie's character Cole has been called "the new Jack Bauer," as he shares the same position (head of Field Ops) and background (ex-Marine) as season-one Jack.

    However, reliable sources connected to 24 tell me flatly: There is no way there will be a spinoff with Freddie. "The producers love him," one mole says, "but it just won't be happening."

    Well, there you have it.

    The current eighth season of 24 will wrap production March 24, which means that the show's executive producers will have little time to write up a series-ending finale if Fox were to decide not to pick up a ninth season anytime soon.

    And if 24 does return for season nine, it's highly unlikely the movie script would be written in time for shooting during this year's TV-show production hiatus.

    Are you hoping for more 24? Big screen or small? Could you see the TV show continuing on with anyone other than Kiefer?

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