Editor's note: I've made some additions/changes- look below!
Let's crank up the 'ol Jack Sack time machine and ask ourselves what if the world's most important television show ever was produced during my favorite period in American entertainment- the hard-nosed, high-cholesterol, politically-incorrect decade of the 1970s. Remember all those disaster flicks from that decade? "The Towering Inferno," "The Poseidon Adventure," and "Black Sunday"? "24" would have fit into that bunch perfectly. So, who would play our favorite characters in this period? Let's take a look:
Jack Bauer: Clint Eastwood. If anyone embodies the way of the gun mentality that is Jack Bauer, it is "Dirty Harry" himself. With that trademark squint, his love affiar with the .44 Magnum pistol, and his constant head-butting with Due Process, Eastwood would have made a perfect Jack Bauer. Steve McQueen is a close second-place (he, like Jack Bauer, had multiple relations with women-- I don't think Dirty Harry ever had time to sack any ladies as he was too busy blowing away street punks to engage the opposite sex) but Clint knows how to tame the Left-Coast with a firearm, and he's the right man to headline this cast.
President David Palmer: James Earl Jones. This guy does not mess around. Darth Vader is my all-time favorite hero-- he gets things done. Jones has played kings, Admirals, Sith Lords, and cartoon lions. He is the world's most sought-after commencement speaker, and with good reason. If this President Palmer wants to wear a cape, so be it.
Kim Bauer: Susan Dey. She embodied West Coast hotness in the 70s. And she strikes me as stupid enough to run into the only cougar in Los Angeles. Clint would find her extremely annoying. She's perfect!
Tony Almeida: Al Pacino. Originally, I had Ricardo Montalban as Tony, but in thinking about it further, Montalban is not a cop- he is a Prince, a suave and dangerous man. I therefore would move him to the Marwan category. But Pacino... man just look at him. If he got shot in the neck, he'd be back at his desk in four hours, just like our boy Almeida.
Chloe O'Brian: Mia Farrow. This is a hard role to recast given the fantastic job Mary Lynn Rajskub has managed, but in terms of petite-yet-odd actresses, I feel Mia Farrow is a strange enough lady to pull it off. And she married Sinatra, which means she's cool in my book.
Sherry Palmer: Diana Ross. As a kid, I have to say that Diana Ross always made me nervous, like she was up to something bad but you could never figure out the game she was playing. Yes, I find snakes, spiders and Diana Ross unsettling. My therapist made me watch "Mahogany" several times to get over this fear and it hasn't helped much at all.
Curtis Manning: Hall-of-Fame Running Back and part-time actor Jim Brown. I originally cast Billy Dee Williams here but my brother, David, called me up and set me straight by suggesting Jim Brown. Look at the guy- mean, tough and ready to cause pain. No terrorist could tackle him as he rushes towards the endzone of national security! Jim Brown IS the Black Bauer.
George Mason: Gene Hackman. If you don't like Gene Hackman, do me a favor and click out of this site right now and never come back. Seriously. Hackman could play ANY role in this show if asked, but I gotta put the man somewhere and George Mason's obnoxious, cynical attitude is a perfect fit.
Mike Novick: Robert Duvall. Another 70s icon that demands universal love here at The Jack Sack. As Don Vito Corleone's consiglieri, I'm convinced that he would slide right into the role of President Vader's Chief of Staff without even having to read the script.
Mandy: Natalie Wood. No question, Natalie Wood is a perfect actress to take on the sexy and mysterious assassin-for-hire.
Disgraced President Charles Logan: Disgraced President Richard Nixon (fist-pump included).
Okay, now for a couple of "Day 6" add-ons (because this season is fresh in my head):
Nadia Yassir: Sophia Loren. I was prepared to cast her as Jack Bauer just to ensure that she was included in this article. Thankfully "Day 6" has a perfect excuse in the character of Nadia for me to fill my Sophia Loren quota.
Vice President Noah Daniels: Lee Marvin. Powers Boothe and Lee Marvin are related, I have no doubt. Just don't tell this Vice President that there's a no-smoking rule on government property. He'll smack ya one right across the face.
General considerations for this time-period setting- there are no cell phones, no data-mining of cross-referenced databases, etc. There are no fax machines, no microwave ovens, no anti-lock breaks, and no seat-belt laws! I guess you could consider changing the name of the show from "24" to "168" as it would take at least 7 days for both the good guys and the terrorists to get their act together. And there would be a lot of stops for gas as the cars back then would only go about 50 miles between fill-ups. Still, the idea of Clint, Pacino and Jim Brown crusing around in an El Camino full of machine guns makes me smile (with a kick-ass Lalo Schifrin jazz score playing underneath).
If anyone has ideas of their own, feel free to post them in a comment.
UPDATE: More casting thanks to your comments and my bro:
Phillip Bauer: Christopher Lee
Agent Aaron Pierce: Peter Boyle
Chloe (alternative): Diane Keaton
Bill Buchanan: Gregory Peck
Audrey Raines: Meryl Streep (all that crying!)
Nina Myers: Hanoi Jane Fonda!
James Heller: Carroll O'Connor (Edith, get these terrorists a beeeeer!)
Actors that must be cast at some point in this project: Telly Savalas, Burt Reynolds, James Caan, anyone from Starsky & Hutch.