By: Michael Starr
It looks like “24” is saving the return of arch-villain Tony Almeida for his big-screen close-up.
With only five gripping hours left in this final season of Fox’s real-time thriller, a return appearance by the double-crossing Almeida, played with oily relish by Carlos Bernard, doesn’t appear to be in the cards.
It;s almost a sure thing, however, that Almeida will reappear in the “24” movie, which will feature series star Kiefer Sutherland reprising his role as tough-guy CTU agent Jack Bauer.
Fans might not have to wait long; the movie could be out by next year, according to series (and movie) executive producer Howard Gordon, who says he wants to get the flick in theaters “sooner rather than later” to capitalize on the momentum of the show’s finale.
In the movie, still in the early script stages, Jack will reportedly head to Europe to fight the bad guys — who will likely include Almeida, who’s already led several lives (and “died” once) on the series. Tony has, in fact, taken quite a few twists and turns since Season 1, when he was introduced as Jack’s fellow agent and closest friend at CTU before morphing into one of the show’s resident evildoers.
After helping Jack save the world in the first four seasons, Tony took a fateful turn in the middle of Season 5 after his love interest and fellow agent, Michelle Dessler (Reiko Aylesworth), was killed in a bomb blast in the season opener. While Tony was recovering from his blast injuries deep within the bowels of CTU, he was stabbed by bad guy Christopher Henderson in the midst of a deadly nerve-gas attack. He died (or so we thought) in Jack’s arms.
With Tony presumed dead, he was absent from Season 6 — but suddenly reappeared last season, when it was revealed that he was alive and well (don’t ask) and was now working as a double agent to undermine US President Allison Taylor while avenging Michelle’s death. We learn that she was pregnant with their child when she was killed.
In a typical “24” twist, Tony was eventually arrested by the FBI and dragged away — but not before being shot and injured by Jack, who he cursed as a traitor to the cause. It would behoove Sutherland and Gordon to reprise Tony for the “24” movie, since he still resonates deeply in the minds of the show’s fans, who’ve been lighting up the message boards on fox.com with all-things-Tony as the series nears its end.
“Tony’s story is unfinished . . . we were left hanging with his story,” says “talmeida6.”
“Tony is in prison, but bring him back regardless,” writes “bfar4526.”
“Preacha9” has a better idea. “I’m not seeing Tony back but with all the hoopla over him you can bet he will be in the movie . . . and the events of the finale set up the movie plot so he may even get an honorable mention.”
Fox officials had no comment yesterday.
Michael Starr is a contributor for the New York Post