Updated June 17, 2003 02:38 PM

Fans of “24” were left dangling as to whether President David Palmer would survive the bizarre assassination attempt in the cliffhanger that ended the FOX hit’s third season last month.

While it didn’t look good, Dennis Haysbert, who plays the part, sure is acting as though he’s going to recover in time for the fall season, reports PEOPLE.

“I just got back from Australia, where the show is a huge hit,” says Haysbert, 48, who’s spending his summer on a globe trot to promote the show.

“We were a critical success before 9/11, but I think now people in other countries are more interested in American government and political story lines. It works for us,” he tells PEOPLE.

Haysbert, a single father, says that, in addition to the promotional tour, he’s been spending a lot of time this summer watching son Charles, 12, and daughter Catherine, 8, playing at the family home in L.A.

He also is the voice of Hale in the upcoming animated feature “Sinbad,” which stars Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Haysbert was in Washington, D.C., at an American Civil Liberties event to honor Muhammad Ali when PEOPLE caught up with him.

“He is my role model and has been since I was very young,” says Haysbert, adding that it is his personal hope that playing the “first African-American President of the United States will hopefully someday be more than a TV character.”