Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fox wants you to Lie to Me

Here are some truths I've learned on this morning's panel for Lie to Me, the new hour-long drama on FOX starring Tim Roth as a consultant who uses psychological research and observation to determine from our "non-verbal communication" whether we're telling the truth.

1)  Roth will be playing his character as British, because perfecting an American dialect is "extra work."  "When you have long days, do you really need that extra work?" he says, while also admiring Hugh Laurie, the Brit-to-American standard-bearer with his accent on House.

2)  According to Dr. Paul Ekman, the real-life basis for Roth's character, people often freak out when meeting him that he'll know their deepest, darkest secrets.  He reminds them that while body language betrays their emotions, there is no way for him to know their thoughts, so their deepest, darkest secrets are safe.  That part is true.  He also tells them he can discern things from behavior only from videotape.  That part is a lie.

3)  Whereas Lie to Me seems suspiciously like CBS' Simon Baker hit The Mentalist, Lie To Me, from the questions the producers and cast were fielding this morning, seems to concentrate much more literally on facial expression and behavior.  (The show's slogan:  "The truth is written all over our faces.")  From what I can discern Simon Baker's Patrick Jane seems to be more of an all-around Columbo type, noticing that a piece of furniture has been moved, or predicting from his knowledge of human nature that a secret password would be hidden in a certain book on a bookshelf.

4)  And more importantly, as producers Brian Grazer and Samuel Baum point out, The Mentalist is a cop show.  There are murders.  Bank robberies.  Lie To Me will cover many different areas of subject matter.  And whereas The Mentalist is about a former scam artist using his flim-flam skills to trip up the baddies, "our show is based on actual science," says actor Brendan Hines.

5)  According to Ekman, anyone can check out this actual science on his internet site, to learn how to "read microexpressions."  But, he warns, it can be a dangerous skill.  Do you really want to know?  "You may sometimes be confronted with painful truths.  But it's a matter of faith:  we're better off knowing the truth."

Lie To Me
Debuts Wednesday, January 21, 2009
9 PM Eastern

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