Kiefer Sutherland is returning to television. The veteran actor, best known for his role as CTU agent Jack Bauer on Fox’s 24, has signed on to star in political thriller Designated Survivor, which has landed at ABC with a straight-to-series order, TVWise has learned.
Designated Survivor follows a junior United States Cabinet member (Kiefer Sutherland) who succeeds to the Presidency when everyone above him in the line of succession is killed during a catastrophic terrorist attack during the State of the Union. The series is described as a family drama wrapped around a conspiracy thriller about an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation.
The project landed at ABC after fierce bidding amongst the networks, though Fox, who have had a long relationship with Kiefer Sutherland, were not particularly hot on Designated Survivor as they have a similar drama in development. ABC has not yet set a formal episode order, with one expected to be set towards the end of the development season.
David Guggenheim created the political thriller and wrote the pilot script on spec before it was taken out to the networks. The Mark Gordon Company, who recently split with ABC Studios and established themselves as an independent studion in partnership with Entertainment One is producing, with Sutherland, Simon Kinberg and Suzan Bymel. ABC Studios will co-produce, with eOne handling global sales.
This marks Sutherland’s first U.S. television part since he reprised his role as Jack Bauer in Fox’s limited event series 24: Live Another Day last year. Prior to that, he starred in Touch, also for Fox, for some two seasons. More recently, Sutherland appeared in Sky Arts’ one-off drama Marked and shot feature film Forsaken, which also starred his father Donald Sutherland and was directed by long-time 24 director and executive producer Jon Cassar.