Manny Coto answers fan questions

Several days ago 24 writer Manny Coto posted a thank you message to fans on his official message boards. He has now begun responding to fan questions:

24 is an extremely collaborative show, much more so than Enterprise. On Enterprise, one writer would often take charge of an episode and see it through to the end (unless the showrunner decided to take over the script).

On 24, everyone pretty much rewrites everyone, lower level writers rewrite the showrunners, and showrunners rewrite lower-level writers, etc. It’s uncommonly egalitarian, and everyone has a hand in each other’s script… taking an act or a scene when necessary. There’s no “this is MY episode” attitude… it’s more, this is our season and we’re all in this together.

When we’re beating out an episode on 24, the writers sit together in the conference room and just talk story, until there’s an outline on the board. Sometimes, we retire to the smoke room (a nicely outfitted cigar smoking suite) and beat out an episode over a couple of pre-Castro Cubans.

Another user congratulates Coto and the writing team, but “would hate to see the return of another mole from within CTU or the Presidency”, saying that it’s wearing thin. Coto agrees and says that won’t be happening anymore.

Thanks for the complement. I don’t disagree that the “mole” plot point has worn out its welcome. I doubt we’ll be seeing it again.

Coto then reveals that co-writer and new 24 showrunner Howard Gordon is a Star Trek fan.

Even though I love working on 24, my heart still wanders back to Star Trek. Howard Gordon is a Trek fan, and we often talk about our favorite episodes. Someday…. someday…

When asked whether 24 is inspired by real life terrorist plots or simply the writers imagination, Coto responds:

Thanks for your question. I think the answer is 50/50. Many of the situations are clearly influenced by real life events — the airport hostage siege was inspired by the Beslan crisis — but a lot of the time we simply make stuff up.

Sometimes “imaginary” scenarios that the 24 staff posits turn out to be real. A few of the writers who worked on 24 Season One were telling me of the flak they got for proposing a secret prison site being run by the government… many viewers thought this was implausible. Flash forward to this year, when it came out that the CIA might in fact have been operating secret prisons all over the world.

Coto then says that his favorite season of 24 — besides the current one he’s writing now — is the second season. Good choice.

I’m glad you’re enjoying the show. If you’re becoming a fan, you might want to buy or rent (or borrow) some DVD boxed sets from the previous seasons. I became a fan of the show not from watching it on TV, but on DVD. It’s incredibly addictive and fun to burn through five or six episodes in a row. I’d especially recommend season 2… my favorite season (aside from this year!).

You can follow the rest of the questions and answers at this forum thread.