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OUT OF THE BOX

For '24' fans, the hours drag on

January 25, 2008|Deborah Netburn | Times Staff Writer

As the writer's strike goes on and on and on, we'll take a look at how viewers are coping with an unscripted world -- because a lack of decent entertainment affects us all. In Episode 1 of our series we look at the bereft fans of "24."

D-Day (Debut Day!) was supposed to be Jan. 13. "Day 7," they called it in the online "24" world. But thanks to the unexpectedly lengthy writers strike, there is no telling when the next season of "24" will debut, leaving a legion of "24" bloggers with a conundrum: How do you keep a "24" blog going without the "24"? (One might also ask how you keep a show about an insanely intense day in one government agent's life going beyond, say, three insanely intense days, but that's a different issue.)

The "24" bloggers have been hit harder than others in the homegrown industry of blogging about serialized television. "Lost" will return in a few weeks, "Prison Break" is already back and "Heroes" was back on air through December.

Before the strike eight episodes of the seventh season of "24" had already been shot, and Fox could have decided to air one-third of the season on the original schedule, but in a show in which each on-air hour represents a real time hour of a continuous day, the network ultimately decided not to make the fans wait an indeterminate number of months for the day to continue.

"When I heard the show was postponed at first I was furious, not necessarily because the show was postponed but because it was the first to be moved," said Julie Holden, who runs www.kiefersutherland24 . net. "I think that might be better in the end, but that doesn't mean I have to like it."

Still, Holden and her fellow bloggers have found ways to continue writing about the show even when it hasn't been on the air for over eight months. There are polls to put up ("What are you doing without 24?"). There is the strike to watch. And, for a little over a month, there was star Kiefer Sutherland's jail sentence to follow. One site helpfully put up the address of the jail so fans could send Sutherland (serving time for his fourth DUI) letters of support. There are also episode summaries to revisit and complete.

"I find it pretty easy to keep blogging because '24' has featured such a wonderful range of actors that there is always something new going on with someone!" wrote Natalie Smith, webmaster of www .twentyfouronline.com.

But that doesn't mean bloggers aren't feeling the pinch.

"There's nothing really to post," admits 18-year-old Eric Nyikos of Tulsa, Okla., who founded www.24fans.net during Season 4. "I've kind of had time to update some stuff on the site, like change the video player and basically do some remodeling. I've also tried to get information about past seasons and get it posted, just to get some new stuff going."

Nyikos said his traffic has fallen from a high in January 2007 (start of Day 6) of 12,000 impressions a day to a total of 35,000 in all of December 2007.

"The strike is really hurting us," he said.

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deborah.netburn@latimes .com

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