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‘24’ Fans Vie for Guinness Record

3 Dec, 2010 By: Chris Tribbey

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Lou Diamond Phillips wouldn’t do it on a dare. “24” director Jon Cassar laughed at the very thought.

Carlos Bernard, who played Tony Almeida in “24”? “Absolutely not,” he said, sounding horrified.

Not a single person involved with the famed TV series said they would be willing to brave what 100 dedicated fans took on the night of Dec. 2: attempt to break the Guinness World Record of 86 hours for longest, continuous television viewing, in this case while watching “24.”

The last alert person with his or her eyes on the screen wins $10,000, along with eternal glory if they pass the 86-hour mark.

Sitting in a large, windowed tent in the middle of the bustling Hollywood and Highland shopping center, the contestants can’t shower, can’t have anything with them inside, and, above all else, can never take their eyes off Jack Bauer and “24.” Every two hours the contestants get a 10-minute break, and the nearby Hard Rock Cafe is supplying snacks, drinks and three meals a day. All-seeing judges wearing Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) garb eliminate contestants who falter.

Many dedicated fans were turned away from the contest after the first 100 were registered. Fox representatives said one young man with nothing but a passport from Argentina showed up the night before the event, begging to be involved. The registered contestants came from as far away as New York City.

“I had work all the way to Sunday, but I took it off,” said 24-year-old Hollywood resident David Watson, adding he managed to stay awake for nearly three straight days once. “I’ll make it. It’s $10,000 and it’s Guinness.”

This wonderful insanity is the brainchild of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, marking the Dec. 14 release of 24: The Complete Series on DVD ($349.98). The massive, all-encompassing set includes the eight seasons of the series, 24 Redemption, and a bonus disc. Dec. 14 also sees the Blu-ray Disc and DVD releases of the eighth and final season.

“Hey, it’s something to try, right? At least I’ll get the DVD set,” said 40-year-old Will Gronek, who found out about the contest on Facebook. The Irvine, Calif. resident said he and his father in Florida would always chat the day after “24” episodes aired. “We love this show. It was something that brought us together every Tuesday.”

Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) couldn’t attend the event, but did deliver a video message to the fans, telling them, “if there’s one group I know who can break [the record], it’s you, the ‘24’ fans.”

Director Cassar, who oversaw 59 episodes of the series, wished Watson, Gronek and the rest of the contestants the best. But: “I don’t think anyone’s going to break the record,” he said. “Those couches inside look too comfortable.”

Actor Gregory Itzin (President Charles Logan) said he might join the thousands of passersby who’ll watch the contest unfold over the weekend.

“I salute all of you,” he told the contestants. Before the contest began, he wondered whether Fox would deem him worthy of a copy of the collection.

“Excuse me, where’s my copy?!” Lou Diamond Phillips demanded before the tent doors opened. “I think it’s amazing what [Fox] has done. I can’t wait to see [the contest]. No sleep, no Tweeting, lots of caffeine.”

Actor Michael Rodrick, who appeared in season seven, said fans of the series will consider the DVD set a must-have, especially for the bonus content. He relayed stories about how Sutherland would play chess between takes, and how actor Jon Voight once hurt his ankle during filming, but refused any treatment before the day’s work ended, instead icing it down himself between shots ("A real man's man," he said).

“It’s a hell of a set and it’s a hell of a series,” Rodrick said. “’24’ fans are adrenaline junkies, so I think one of these [contestants] is going to break that record.”

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