'American Crime' anthology series takes timely look at immigration in the wake of President Trump's election.
What does Kiefer Sutherland think '24's President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) would tell his President Kirkman? "Duck.'(Photo: Fox)
Before Kiefer Sutherland ever took on the challenge of playing an American president in ABC's Designated Survivor (returning Wednesday at 10 ET/PT), the actor studied others.
You could even call him wonkish, but perhaps that's to be expected from the grandson of Tommy Douglas, a member of Canada's House of Commons who also was the architect of his country's universal health care program.
Because Survivor shoots in Toronto, the show gives Sutherland a chance to go back to the country he still considers home and whose citizenship he still holds. (Last fall, he told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, "I've always felt I was Canadian and that's who I am and I have no interest in changing that.")
In an interview with USA TODAY about Survivor's upcoming transition to stories about learning the presidency on the job and rebuilding the federal government, the conversation took a natural turn toward other POTUSes, both real and fictional.
What kind of advice might 24's first president, David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), whom Sutherland's character Jack Bauer spent years protecting, have for Survivor's president, Tom Kirkman?
"I guess, in one word, it would be, ‘Duck,' " he says, laughing.
That's some serious gallows humor: Palmer was the target of an assassination attempt and was ultimately killed by a sniper after he left office; Kirkman was in the crosshairs of another shooter in Survivor's winter finale on Dec. 14.
Actually, he believes Palmer would tell his character, "Keep your head down and keep trying to do the right thing."
He adds, “I have to believe that with anyone who has been president, there has to be a moment — regardless of ideology — where one puts their arm around the other and says, ‘Not so easy, eh?’ There’s a kind of understanding that that you walk on fire. And there has to be respect from one president to another."
Even though he was busy protecting presidents on Fox's 24 for most of The West Wing's run, Sutherland still made time for Josiah "Jed" Bartlet (Martin Sheen).
Kiefer Sutherland says he admired the way that 'West Wing' president Josiah Bartlet was "flexible as a politician, but if you pushed him too far, he be came very entrenched in his beliefs." (Photo: RIC FRANCIS, AP)
"He was very, very smart and had a very specific view of what he felt right and wrong were," Sutherland says. " And he was flexible as a politician through the five or six years of the show that I watched. But if you pushed him too far, he became very entrenched and was willing to fight for what he believed in."
He praises West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin for writing the show in such a way that the president "was allowed to approach them with a great deal of common sense and in many cases, Jed Bartlet was put against special interests in Washington and he would fight against those. I think if you ask anybody, whether they’re a Republican or Democrat, they absolutely would like more of that in the political landscape than they might feel we have at present.”
That covers the TV presidents. How about the real ones?
"Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I thought, was an incredible president," he says. "There were aspects of the New Deal that didn’t work and he certainly did not navigate the country out of the Great Depression like a lot of people think he did. It was ultimately World War II that did that. But he approached things in an incredibly smart and intellectual way but it was balanced with humanity. He was an incredibly compassionate person and I think his own personal suffering and his illness added to his ability to do that."
Sutherland calls Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, seen here during his inauguration, "very progressive for that time." (Photo: Washington Post via D.C. Public Library)
photo of How would '24' president advise 'Designated Survivor' POTUS?
In new episodes, ABC's political drama will play more like 'The West Wing' than '24.'
The star of Shonda Rhimes' drama 'The Catch' explains the ABC series' reset for Season 2.
How can you watch ABC's 'Designated Survivor' online via live stream? Find out here.
The Toronto Maple Leafs playoff push got a big boost on Thursday night. Frederik Andersen made 36 saves and Tyler Bozak had a goal and an assist as the Leafs jumped back into the final wild-card spot with a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Fox's comedy is the better option, says Robert Bianco.
Skater Nancy Kerrigan, Fifth Harmony's Normani Kordei, Charo join ABC dance competition.
For the first time the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences is charging a license fee to TV stations and networks that broadcast live shows
ABC Television network is collecting about $2 million for each 30-second advertising spot in the upcoming 89th Academy Awards broadcast — a healthy boost over last year’s prices.
Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said that Mitch Marner won't play against Ottawa on Saturday night or against Carolina on Sunday because of an apparent right shoulder injury.
- J.D. Power & Associates 8 most dependable cars, minivan
- Wake up to this crazy good Goo Goo barbecue biscuit from Holler & Dash
- Muscle Shoals Swampers, Jimmy Hall appear in Bayside Academy music showcase
- New York City Ballet dancer returns to Alabama for "The Sleeping Beauty"
- Who should replace Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump on 'SNL'?
- Jimmy Buffett to return to The Wharf in Orange Beach
- Beer garden in the works for downtown Montgomery
- Weekend box office: 'Logan' tears up opening weekend with $85.3M debut
- Resumes are more art than science
- How to open a resume: Objective statement vs. qualifications summary
- Don't confuse a resume with an autobiography
- Do I really need a cover letter? Plus more common resume questions
- Tim Tebow stalked by Colorado woman at Mets spring camp: cops
- KING: The Democratic Party doesn't get why it's so unpopular
- Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy Obamacare replacement should be called ‘Abominable Care’
- Fisher’s finish leads to Match Play and a shot at Masters
- Robinson, Lind ready for a spring training job fight
- World Baseball Classic failing to draw interest of American fans
- Ben Carson confirmed by Senate as HUD secretary
- Proposed $54B jump in defense budget won’t help economy much
- Are baby boomers too old to ski? Probably not.
- With allergy season around the corner, educate yourself now
- Butter or olive oil? Eggs or no? New nutritional review cuts through the myths.
- Every traveler’s eternal question: ‘It’s 2017, why don’t we have WiFi on all planes?’
- These activists want greater home-school monitoring. Parent groups say no way.
- Tired of people asking where you’re going to college? Here’s what to say.
- Perspective | Ask Amy: Woman reels from memories of tough childhood
- Perspective | Trump’s first D.C. dinner as president: An overcooked, $54 steak. With ketchup.
- Review | Colada Shop in D.C. reviewed: Little Havana done right, and an $8 daiquiri
- Amal Clooney Demos How to Perfectly Pull Off a Skirt Suit While Pregnant
- Jennifer Lopez Made The Entire Audience Blush When She Answered This Question About A Sex Tape
- There are six styles of love. Which one best describes you?
- 9 reasons why every Canadian should own a canoe
- Switzerland Is The Best Country In The World, According To A U.S. News Survey
- A police officer’s wife wants people to remember his service — not the gruesome way he died
- This Café Only Serves Cereal And It's Incredible
- Future of B.C.'s grizzly bears at risk, according to new report
- Bullbaiting, squirrel busting: Terms used in 'My Scientology Movie' explained
- Scarlett Johansson's custody battle: What happens next?
- Review: Make time for this sensational, intense season of 'American Crime'