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'24' Producer On Realism Of White House Attack Plot

Wondering whether the underwater White House attack plot seen on this week's two-hour '24' event had any basis in reality?

Executive producer Howard Gordon addresses the very question and talks about how the idea came about.

"Obviously the White House and attacking it credibly was something that we had some big internal debates about and we feared: Could it be done credibly?," Gordon tells us in a media conference call. "I do think we pulled it off, but I know it was a big concern on the part of a lot of the crew and the cast."

As to why security appeared low: "Part of the thing obviously is that the government's been compromised and we're in this transition period right now. There are Marines if you look closely." Although Gordon admits some reshoots were needed because the set looked a bit empty: "In this case it required a couple days of extra shooting because it felt highly under-populated."

"We all know there's a fairly hardened environment and a very hard target to hit and so yes, obviously you have to suspend disbelief a little," Gordon said. "For one thing obviously these guys are in scuba gear, like breaking through the subterranean rock. Obviously it's more like a James Bond film than it is a documentary on how one would try to break into the White House."

Gordon says the underwater idea came about because Washington "essentially is wetland; it's swampland so I have this fantasy that maybe there were some sealed off tunnels from various construction phases so I just sort of said what if."

"But I've done really no research on this that... I'm sure these tunnels don't exist. And in fact what we wound up shooting was different than what you saw, different from what we scripted."

"We scripted a much, imagine a very large ceramic abandoned sewage pipe that was half filled with muck and we shot something a little bit more James Bondy, which was obviously with the scuba gear and stuff. But I was glad to see that there were motion sensors once they broke through the wall."

"The White House coalesced in our minds as the right target because it was the way to play the human drama of Allison Taylor's troubled reconciliation with her daughter. That really was the fulcrum that made us choose the White House as the target It was a fairly dramatic thing to do and in '24' we are perpetually looking for ways to sort of outdo ourselves."

"It's her office or her daughter and the mother in her won out. But it is excruciating and I think '24' is I guess we hope that we can continue to push the envelope in terms of what we can do. We really needed a pivot moment to transition from one story to the next and one last siege felt like the right idea."

"It has to be interesting and it has to be compelling and I think this seemed like something we'd never seen before."

March 4, 2009 |

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