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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Perfect Gift for the "24" Fan in Your Life

With the premiere of “24” nowhere in sight, “24” fans are looking for ways to fill the void.

A great way to do that is by reliving the show’s best season with the new book, “24: The Official Companion Season 5,” which not only recaps every episode of the season, but also spills plenty of behind-the-scenes secrets.

Recently, I got the opportunity to interview the author of the book (and previous seasons' companions), Tara DiLullo Bennett, via e-mail. In our discussion, she revealed the joys of reliving season five, the difficulties of recapping season six, and how a character coming back from the dead can wreak havoc on editorial deadlines…

Q: How did you get involved in these books?
A: I have worked for Titan Magazines for some years and in Dec. of 2005, my editor
on the newly formed “24 Magazine” alerted me that there might be a companion
guide for the series coming down the pipeline too. I contacted the book
division, with whom I had worked with for the “Making of the Fantastic Four”
book and the “Firefly Companion Guides,” to let them know I was interested! They
awarded me the contract and the rest is history :)

Q: One of the best parts of your books is the “Additional Intel” for each
episode. How do you decide what tidbits to put there?
A: Thanks! I am very proud of those sections and hear great feedback about them. I
get the intel from many sources, mostly my one-on-one interviews with the cast
and crew of the show. When they give me trivia or details about the work they
do, I circle my notes so I know to use those tidbits later for the Intel
section. I also get PR material from Fox and I scour websites and interviews
with the “24” cast and crew for material that I corroborate with them for

Q: It’s obvious you get a lot of cooperation from people with the show. What’s been their reaction to your books?
A: I've gotten very positive feedback from the creators and crew of the show. I
think my greatest indication of that is when I show them the finished book and
they immediately become immersed in the pages, with big smiles on their faces.
The books really serve as a Yearbook and a personal walk down memory lane for
them, so I am really proud that they see them that way and I'm telling their

Q: One of the major moments of season five was the death of Tony Almeida,
which you write about in the book. Now we know that Tony is, in fact, alive.
What’s your reaction to that and does it bother you at all since you had already
written about his death?
A: Oh man! Ha, ha, let me tell you what a heart in my stomach moment that was! I
turned in the final feature for the Season Five companion in the beginning of
June 2007. At that time, I knew that Tony's resurrection for the end of Season
Six was scuttled by the writers, so I figured we were safe. Season Seven has
been the roughest story launch ever for the writers, so it really affected my
completion of the Season Six Companion Guide. The writers didn't settle on a
storyline for Season Seven until mid-August of 2007, and as most fans know, this
next season focuses on the return of Tony. I got my proofs back for the Season
Five book in July and that's when I first got the rumblings that Tony would be
back, but I had already written a Memoriam on his character! I emailed my editor
in a panic and no one in the writer's room even knew what direction they were
going in, so we had to just go with what we had in order to make the Nov. 2007
publication date. As I said, it was confirmed to me
by the producers in August that Tony would be back so I said to my editor,
"Well, at least we know what the first chapter in the season seven book will be
- What the h--l happened with Tony?!"

Q: Season 5 is widely considered to be the best season of “24.” Did that
make it more fun to write this companion or did it make it harder to figure out
what to include?
A: The success of season five was a lot of fun. I started gathering interviews for
the book the week it premiered on TV in January 2006, so I was really able to
ride the entire journey of the success of Day 5 with them. I was so proud the
night they all won their Emmys so I was really excited that I would get the
chance to tell that story in the Companion Guide. We changed formats for the
first time with this season, so I was even more excited to know that with the
extra page space, I would get to do two important things - 1) honor all the
important characters that died in Day 5 and 2) get to do long interviews with
Greg Itzin, Jean Smart and all the Emmy winners. All of those factors make it my
favorite book to date and one that I think fans will really enjoy.

Q: On the other hand, Season 6 is widely considered to be the worst season
of “24.” Did that make it harder to write the Season 6 companion?
A: Yes, the season six companion guide was my most difficult for many reasons. Fans
and critics really disliked the year so that was disheartening to not only
tackle but also have to bring up with the writers and creative team. There was a
lot they really liked about the year, so I had to address issues fans wanted to
know about while making sure I got the writer's perspective too. Also, season
seven being delayed severely impacted my ability to get interviews done for the
season six companion book so our end of August deadline had to be extended to
the end of October! But I really feel like the book answers A LOT of questions
that fans wanted explained truthfully, so even if you hate that season - at
least you get first-hand answers! Plus, the “24 Season Six” book comes with an
exclusive DVD!

Q: You’re clearly a “24” fan. Do you have a favorite “24” moment or
A: Gosh, there are so many! I don't think I can pick just one, but Teri Bauer's
death, Chloe's first field mission, Martha stabbing Charles Logan, and Jack's
reaction to killing Curtis are all standouts to me.

Q: With the current writers’ strike, there’s a chance we may not see “24”
this season. Do you feel like maybe your books can kind of help hold fans over?
How will the strike impact your writing for the “24” magazine?
A: I would LOVE for my books and 24 Magazine to be the stop-gap for fans clamoring
for their “24” fix. The strike is really terrible for the industry and all the
people who work in it, but I support the WGA 100%. I hope a deal can be made
sooner than later, as I won't have a book to write about S7 for a long time if
not! As for the magazine, we have a lot of material I just got from a set visit
in October and my trip to the DC location shoots in November, so couple that
fresh material with some great new interviews and features on classic season, we
will be the SOURCE for your “24” needs - strike or no strike.

Q: How many more of these companion books do you see yourself writing? In
other words, how much longer do you think the show will go?
A: I hope to write a companion guide for every season. Fox has contracted the show
for a 7th and 8th season. Whether there will be season seven and season eight
books depends on the strike being finalized and then the sales of the next
books. I hope “24” fans pick up my books knowing they are official, written by a
fan for fans, they address controversial subjects which are answered by the
people that create the show and they are a great reference companion to have
along with the DVD sets.

“24: The Official Companion Season 5” is available now. “The Official Companion Season 6” is scheduled for release February 19th.

“The Official Companion Seasons 3 & 4” was released earlier this year and “The Official Companion Seasons 1 & 2” was released in September 2006.

And yes, I, of course, have read them all cover to cover—as every “24” fan should…