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Thursday, March 6, 2008

E! News - Clock Ticking on 24 Prequel - Kiefer Sutherland

jack Bauer is making up for lost time.

Fox has confirmed that a two-hour prequel to the upcoming, long-delayed seventh season of 24 is in the works, set to hit the airwaves this fall.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the prequel will bridge the gap between the sixth and seventh seasons, the latter of which will premiere next January, one year later than originally planned.

The Emmy-winning, clock-ticking Kiefer Sutherland series was the first major casualty of the  writers' strike. Only eight of its title-fulfilling 24 episodes were finished when the industry-debilitating work-stoppage took hold.

Rather than air a portion of the season, and face the threat of alienating fans, Fox opted instead to sit on the completed episodes so the season could air in its entirety next year.

It's unclear how the show's trademark gimmick—each one-hour episode takes place in real time—will be altered during the two-hour prequel movie or how far in advance of season seven's start the action will be set.

Meanwhile, the writers, producers and recently unincarcerated Sutherland are due to resume work on the remaining two-thirds of the new season, as well as the one-off prequel, in April.

But one notable face will be missing from the set.

The show's cocreator and executive producer, Joel Surnow, announced last month, at the end of the writers' strike, that he would not be returning to shepherd 24. His departure was apparently amicable, as Fox sent out a statement heralding his contribution to the series and saying the door was always open for him to return.

Prior to the commencement of the strike, show producers confirmed the seventh season of the show will be set not at Los Angeles' CTU headquarters but for the first time in Washington, D.C., and will feature the first-ever female president, played by Cherry Jones.

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Home Foreclosures Hit Record High: Financial News - america is a total disaster right now

ndustry Group Says Home Foreclosures at Record High Last Quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Home foreclosures soared to an all-time high in the final quarter of last year and are likely to keep on rising, underscoring the suffering of distressed homeowners and the growing danger the housing meltdown poses for the economy.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, in a quarterly snapshot of the mortgage market released Thursday, said the proportion of all mortgages nationwide that fell into foreclosure shot up to a record high of 0.83 percent in the October-to-December quarter. That surpassed the previous high of 0.78 percent set in the prior quarter.

"Clearly it's the worst it's been," chief association economist Doug Duncan said in an interview with The Associated Press.

More homeowners -- at the same time -- fell behind on their monthly payments.

The delinquency rate for all mortgages climbed to 5.82 percent in the fourth quarter. That was up from the 5.59 percent in the third quarter and was the highest since 1985. Payments are considered delinquent if they are 30 or more days past due.

Homeowners with tarnished credit who have subprime adjustable-rate loans were the hardest hit. Foreclosures and late payments for these borrowers also swelled to all-time highs in the fourth quarter.

The percentage of subprime adjustable-rate mortgages that entered the foreclosure process soared to a record of 5.29 percent in the fourth quarter. That was up from 4.72 percent in the prior quarter, which had marked the previous high. Late payments skyrocketed to a record high of 20.02 percent in the fourth quarter, up from 18.81 percent -- the previous high -- in the third quarter.

The association's survey covers almost 46 million home loans nationwide.

"Mortgage credit quality is deteriorating fast," said Mike Larson, a real-estate analyst at Weiss Research.

The worsening foreclosure and late payment figures come as fears grow that the country is teetering on the edge of a recession or in one already.

The wave of foreclosures threatens to deepen the already severely depressed housing market. The homes people are forced out of add to the big glut of unsold homes already on the market. That forces even more cutbacks by homebuilders, taking a big bite out of national economic activity. Harder-to-get credit, meanwhile, has thwarted would-be home buyers, aggravating problems in the housing market.

Homeowners with spotty credit histories or low incomes who took out higher-risk subprime adjustable-rate mortgages have suffered the most distress as the housing market went from boom to bust. Initially low interest rates that reset to much higher rates have clobbered these borrowers. With home values dragged down by the slump, many borrowers were left with mortgages that eclipsed the value of their homes.

"Declining home prices are clearly the driving factor behind foreclosures, but the reasons and magnitude of the declines differ from state to state," Duncan said.

In a separate report, Americans' percentage of equity in their homes has fallen below 50 percent for the first time on record since 1945, the Federal Reserve said.

Homeowners' percentage of equity slipped to a downwardly revised 49.6 percent in the second quarter of 2007, and declined further to 47.9 percent in the fourth quarter -- the third straight quarter it was under 50 percent. That marks the first time homeowners' debt on their houses exceeds their equity since the Fed started tracking the data in 1945.

Even with relief efforts under way by industry and the government, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, earlier this week, warned that foreclosures and late payments on home mortgages are likely to rise "for a while longer."

The MBA's Duncan agreed. "We expect some increases in the next couple of quarters," he said. The economic slowdown, harder-to-get credit and lofty energy prices are adding to the strains, he said.

Against this backdrop, Bernanke called for additional relief and urged lenders to help distressed owners by lowering the amount of their loans. "This situation calls for a vigorous response," Bernanke said in a speech Tuesday.

Bernanke's recommendation for lenders to reduce the amount owed on troubled home loans goes beyond the position staked out by the Bush administration. The Fed chief, however, didn't go as far as to endorse some proposals embraced by Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Among the initiatives promoted by the administration is allowing some homeowners with certain subprime home loans to freeze their interest rate for five years.

California and Florida continued to represent a disproportionate share of the country's new foreclosures. The two states accounted for 30 percent of mortgages starting the foreclosure process, the association said. "In states like California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona, overbuilding of new homes created a surplus that will take some time to work through," Duncan said. That glut has pushed down house prices, he said.

The fallout afflicts neighborhoods, too.

"Foreclosures not only create personal and financial distress for individual homeowners but also can significantly hurt neighborhoods where foreclosures cluster," Bernanke said.

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World-Billionaires-2008: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance

Warren Buffett Takes Top SpotForbesThe number 13 has long been considered unlucky by superstitious people around the globe. How fitting, then, that Bill Gates' reign as the world's richest person ends after his 13th year at the top.Despite being worth $58 billion, $2 billion more than last year, Gates is now the world's third-richest person, ceding the top spot ranking to his good friend and partner in philanthropy, Warren Buffett, whose net worth jumped $10 billion to $62 billion. Ranked No. 2 is Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim HelĂș, whose fortune has doubled in just two years to $60 billion.

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Duncan leads Spurs to 10th straight win (AP)

San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan talks while New Jersey Nets' Vince Carter listens during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Tuesday, March 4, 2008. The Spurs beat the Nets 81-70.

The San Antonio Spurs shot poorly and didn't think they defended well, either. None of that could halt the defending champions' longest winning streak of the season. Tim Duncan had 29 points and 12 rebounds for his 37th double-double of the season, and the Spurs overcame their offensive struggles to beat the New Jersey Nets 81-70 on Tuesday night for their 10th straight victory.

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Celtics top Pistons, clinch playoff spot (AP)

Boston Celtics' Kevin Garnett hugs Detroit Pistons' Chauncey Billups (1) while Rasheed Wallace, right, hugs Celtics' Paul Pierce (hidden) as Celtics head coach Doc Rivers, left, looks on after their NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, March 5, 2008. The Celtics beat the Pistons 90-78.

The Boston Celtics are in the playoffs. The Detroit Pistons aren't far behind. Boston became the first NBA team to clinch a postseason berth, getting a season-high 31 points from Kevin Garnett on Wednesday night to earn a bruising 90-78 victory over Detroit, its closest competitor in the Eastern Conference.

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James scores 50 in Cavs' win over Knicks (AP)

Fan Anthony Erskine is escorted off the court after he approached Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James during a time out late in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks, Wednesday, March 5, 2008  in New York.

The "MVP!" chants weren't enough for one fan, who had to come on the court to tell LeBron James how much he appreciated the superstar's spectacular performance. That only made one of the best nights of James' career even better. James had 50 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds to win over the Madison Square Garden crowd and lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 119-105 victory over the New York...

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Facebook Is All Grown Up: Tech Ticker, Yahoo! Finance

While the rest of Silicon Valley hunkers down to prepare for a recession, Facebook continues to aggressively build out what it hopes will be the Valley's next Web powerhouse. And as All Things D reported, Sheryl Sandberg is going to be a big part of that. She left the reigning Web titan, Google, to become Mark Zuckerberg's no. 2. I met with Zuckerberg yesterday to plan our upcoming on-stage interview at the South By Southwest Conference in Austin. I can't divulge a lot of what we talked about-- stay tuned for Sunday-- but I was struck by his respect and reverence for Sandberg. Believe me, the 23-year-old Zuckerberg doesn't just hand accolades like that out. Frequently a "grown up" executive is forced on a young founder, but not this time. Can she help Facebook monetize all those eyeballs? We hope to get a sit down with Sandberg later this month.

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