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Byline: Rob Lowman Entertainment Editor

`We're dead.''

That's what I said to my wife as a mushroom cloud from a ``suitcase'' nuclear bomb rose over the city of Valencia, our hometown.

We were watching the last five minutes of the four-hour season premiere of ``24'' on Fox last week, and even super-counterterrorist agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) -- who was over the hill in Granada Hills at the time -- couldn't save us.

Just why are the folks at Fox's ``24'' targeting Valencia? Do they have something against our quiet bedroom community that's part of the City of Santa Clarita, north of Los Angeles.

Why didn't they just nuke Burbank? NBC's there, after all. Why not some fictional SoCal city like San Elsewhere? Why is the Santa Clarita Valley ground zero?

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Last year, I interviewed Sutherland, who's also an executive producer of the show, and asked him why the show did so much filming in the area. Parts of the city -- Newhall, Valencia, Canyon Country -- have played prominent parts, and season four opened with another terrorist attack in the city, the bombing of a train. Even Jack's daughter had moved to Valencia.

Sutherland demurred, saying he left those decisions to others. Later, though, he had this to say:

``To pretend there are not terror cells and people working at that level across the United States is simply foolish. It does exist, and it is a reality.''

In Valencia? Hey, we practically invented soccer moms.

When I contacted the show and asked them why they nuked my town, ``24'' executive producer and season six show runner Howard Gordon said they ``liked the sound of Valencia.''

Liked the sound? I hope real terrorists don't like the sound.

Maybe the lyrics from the song ``Oh Valencia'' by the Decemberists were rattling around in the writers' heads. A lot of bloggers thought of the song after seeing the bomb go off on the show:

Oh Valencia / With your blood still warm on the ground / Valencia / And I swear to the stars / I'll burn this whole city down.

``There will be fallout,'' Gordon told members of the Television Critics Association during a set visit earlier in the week in Chatsworth, where the show is headquartered.

Yeah, you bet there will be.

And ``mass casualties.'' he added. ``It's a catastrophe on the scale of 9/11, and then some.''

Yeah, especially to us living/wiped out there.

What will this do to real-estate prices?

(By the way, the Daily News printing presses are located in the Valencia industrial center, where the bomb was set off.)

``When the Santa Clarita Chamber of Commerce was looking for attention, I don't think this is what they had in mind,'' said an amused City Councilman Timothy Ben Boydston, who is also the executive director of the Canyon Theatre.

``I think perhaps the terrorists picked this community because they film `Weeds' here,'' he added, referring to Showtime's comedy about a pot-dealing soccer mom.

Well, somebody was probably smoking something when they came up with this idea.

Jason Crawford, film associate for the City of Santa Clarita, says ``24'' has been filming in the area since it started six years ago.

So what are they going to do now that we're a mass of radiated ashes?

``They've filmed here when it was meant to be the Santa Clarita area, but they also filmed here when Jack Bauer went to Mexico, or when they did flashbacks of him in the Middle East,'' Crawford says. ``So we've been able to stand in for ourselves and other locations over the past six seasons.''

He added that he expects to see them again.

What -- with a HazMat team?

Of course, nuking a city is good for the ratings (15.7million viewers both nights). But what about us? Even Jack's daughter has moved out of town, Gordon said. (So, Elisha Cuthbert, you still have a shot at a guest-starring role this season.)

Once upon a time, when I told people I was from Valencia, I would add, ``where Magic Mountain is,'' referring to the giant amusement park across the freeway from the industrial center, and everyone would know. Even my daughter, who went to school in Boston, could tell people that.

Now we'll be known as the city ``24'' nuked -- even as we linger on.

Said Boydston: ``I'd like everyone in America to know that the demise of this community of Santa Clarita is greatly exaggerated.''

Rob Lowman (818) 713-3687


What: Valencia is in ashes.

Where: Fox (Channel 11).

When: 9 tonight.


photo, map


Keifer Sutherland: ``To pretend there are not terror cells and people working at that level across the United States is simply foolish. It does exist.''


no caption (Valencia)
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Article Details
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Jan 22, 2007

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