The office desk of Joel Surnow--the co-creator and executive producer of "24," the popular counterterrorism drama on Fox--faces a wall dominated by an American flag in a glass case. A small label reveals that the flag once flew over Baghdad, after the American invasion of Iraq, in 2003. A few years ago, Surnow received it as a gift from an Army regiment stationed in Iraq; the soldiers had shared a collection of "24" DVDs, he told me, until it was destroyed by an enemy bomb. "The military loves our show," he said recently. Surnow is fifty-two, and has the gangly, coiled energy of an athlete; his hair is close-cropped, and he has a "soul patch"--a smidgen of beard beneath his lower lip. When he was young, he worked as a carpet salesman with his father. The trick to selling anything, he learned, is to carry yourself with confidence and get the customer to like you within the first five minutes. He's got it down. "People in the Administration love the series, too," he said. "It's a patriotic show. They should love it."
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