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    "24" Phones Home

    The next time your cell phone rings, don't let it go to voicemail...it could be drama calling!

    Drama, as in your favorite Fox action series, 24, which is about to become the first TV show to be spun off into its own cell phone series. The joint project between Fox and Vodaphone, titled 24: Conspiracy, will be a series of 24 "mobisodes," minute-long installments of video that will feature a storyline similar to Fox's hit Keifer Sutherland show.

    Conspiracy, however, will star different characters and actors. In the series' first mobisode (a term that Fox has already trademarked), a rogue Counter Terrorist Unit agent named Susan Walker (Beverly Bryant) kills a big shot government official. Her fellow CTU-er Martin Kail (Dylan Bruce) is hot on her trail, but exactly who the bad guy is will be up in the air, as Kail may just be a pawn in a conspiracy that involves his CTU bosses.

    Obviously, with so much action packed into about 60 seconds of video, 24 the cell phone series will proceed at the same frenetic pace as its tube ancestor. Conspiracy, like the TV show, will also end each mobisode with a cliffhanger, which will culminate in a "shattering" one-minute finale that Fox promises will answer all questions posed throughout the series.

    The cell phone drama will not be produced by the same team behind the TV show, however. Conspiracy will be helmed by Spark Hill Productions, a company that has produced bonus features for the 24 DVD box sets.

    As for when the action will hit a cell phone near you, it depends on which side of the ocean you'll be viewing your weekly dose of supercharged celludrama. Fox's fourth season of 24 debuts in the U.S. and Britain in January. British Vodaphone customers can begin their subscriptions to Conspiracy on Jan. 30. But American fans will have to wait until next spring or summer, and subscribe to a Verizon service, to download mobisodes.

    For the viewers itching for their 24 action old-school style, Jack Bauer and the gang return to the tube in a two-hour season premiere on Fox on Jan. 9, before moving to a new Monday night time slot on Jan. 10.

    The show, which will air in consecutive weeks without repeats throughout the entire fourth season, picks up 18 months after the shaken Mr. Bauer yet again saved millions of people from terrorist doom. As day four begins, Jack has been fired by new CTU head Erin Driscoll (La Femme Nikita's Alberta Watson), but is forced to work with her when his new boss, Secretary of Defense James Heller (Knots Landing's William Devane), appoints him to investigate the explosion of a commuter train.

    And did we mention that Jack is also having a clandestine affair with Heller's married daughter (Third Watch's Kim Raver)? Oh, that Jack!

    Though the Conspiracy project marks the first ever U.S. TV cellphone series, it's not the first time Fox has integrated cellular use into one of its major hits. American Idol fans have been using their mobile phones and text messaging capabilities to help crown the AI winner each season. The network has even teamed with cell phone giant Nokia for an "official" American Idol phone.

    Meanwhile, as part of the deal between Fox and Vodaphone, the companies will be ringing in additional made-for-cell projects. The 2005 animated Fox feature flick Robots, featuring the voices of Ewan McGregor, Halle Berry, Robin Williams, Mel Brooks and Greg Kinnear, will be promoted via cell to Vodaphone subscribers as part of a "Fox Movie of the Month" feature, according to Variety.

    And there is the promise of more TV-related mobisodes, too, Fox marketing and content exec Lucy Hood tells the trade mag.

    Are we the only ones hoping that Fox will realize The O.C. would be a great spinoff On Cell phone?

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