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TV Bulletin Board (Sept. 19)

Lazarus syndrome: Tony Almeida will be back on track with Jack.

24's late season creative slump and some false starts for its upcoming seventh have prompted at least one drastic measure. Agent Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), left for dead in Season 5, will be resurrected to rejoin Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland).

Fox announced his return Wednesday, with executive producer Howard Gordon contending that the show had "left the door open" for Tony after leaving him presumably deceased in CTU's infirmary.

"Since there was no silent clock at the conclusion of his last appearance -- the 24 tribute to a major character's demise -- we always kept this as a possibility," Howard said.

Season 7, beginning with a two-night, three-hour "premiere event" on Jan. 13-14, will find Jack facing trial in Washington, D.C. for his "actions in the pursuit of justice." He turns an even whiter shade of pale when Tony pops up in the opening episode.

As previously noted, CTU has been disbanded but agents Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) and Bill Buchanan (James Morrison) are returning in different guises. Cast additions include Cherry Jones as President Allison Taylor and Janeane Garofalo as FBI agent Janis Gold. President Taylor also will have a "First Gentleman" named Henry (Colm Feore).

24 initially planned to set Season 7 in China.