'24' Co-Creator Stops Clock

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Joel Surnow, a co-creator of "24," is leaving the show to pursue other projects.

Surnow had been thinking about leaving the FOX show for a while, and during the writers' strike he came to a firm decision. His departure is effective immediately, meaning he won't be part of the 16 episodes yet to be filmed for the show's seventh season, the showbiz trade papers report.

Elsewhere, ABC's "Ugly Betty" and "Women's Murder Club" have let some of their executive producers go as well. Marco Pennette and James Hayman have been dropped from "Betty," while co-creators Sarah Fain and Elizabeth Craft and exec producer R. Scott Gemmill got the ax at "Women's Murder Club." The latter show's post-strike fate remains uncertain, while "Ugly Betty" is likely to produce some new episodes this spring under creator Silvio Horta.

As for Surnow, he's leaving "24" a couple months before his contract at 20th Century Fox TV expires. The parting was amicable -- the studio praises Surnow for "creat[ing] one of the landmark series of this decade."

"His contribution to its creative excellence over the years has been immeasurable," the studio says in a statement. "His input will always be welcome."

Surnow's departure won't affect the day-to-day running of the show, which executive producer Howard Gordon has been handling since last season. Co-creator Robert Cochran remains with the series as well.

The seventh season of "24" is expected to resume filming in the coming weeks, but it likely won't return to the air until 2009.

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