Kiefer Sutherland's going to surrender to New York police to answer an assault complaint after head-butting a designer at SubMercer the other night. This could end in torture for Sutherland's show, 24. Such delightful turnabout!

Sutherland's behavior, like his corrosive and overtly propagandist TV serial, was gratuitously savage; undisputed is that he head-butted designer Jack McCollough at the nightclub, and that McCollough never laid a hand on the actor or presented an imminent threat to anyone else. The only fact in question is whether McCollough stumbled into actress Brooke Shields before getting slammed (Sutherland's people apparently mark this as sufficient justification).

Still, it's a minor charge: Third-degree assault. Sutherland is unlikely to face jail time — in New York.

But Los Angeles is a different matter. There, Sutherland is in the midst of a five-year probation term for his second drunk driving conviction, and will be in violation of that probation if he is found to have broken any laws. Los Angeles prosecutors have already told People they plan to "review the incident" in New York.

A finding of intoxicated battery could draw an especially harsh penalty, of 48 days or more. And that, in turn, could mean delays for 24, set to start production on its eighth season at the end of May, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The show already had a hellish, truncated season 7 due to the writer's strike.

Never let it be said that Kiefer Sutherland doesn't know how to get out of a jam like this one when the clock is ticking. But take away his ability to magically solve all problems by beating the crap out of someone and suddenly his situation, not to mention Fox's, looks a lot more precarious.