New Show 2009: Lie To Me

FOX, Wednesdays Beginning Jan. 21

What if you had the ability, just by looking at someone or hearing them speak, to ascertain whether they were telling the truth? How would recognizing the lies change your view of humanity?

The short answer is that it likely would drive you nuts. But your skills also might put you in demand by the local and federal law enforcement agencies, which might prevail upon you in the solving of particularly sticky cases. This is the world FOX presents in a new series executive produced by the folks behind 24 and Arrested Development. Lie to Me stars Tim Roth (The Incredible Hulk, Reservoir Dogs) as Dr. Cal Lightman, a man whose ability to analyze people’s speech and movements during conversation enables him to not only determine if someone under investigation is lying, but also why.

Based in part on the work of real-life deception expert Paul Ekman, Lie to Me was created by Samuel Baum after he became absorbed by the nature of Ekman’s work. “I was just completely fascinated about all aspects of it,” he explains, “from lying in gender and learning about the differences between what men lie about versus what women lie about — which is that [for] men, the most common lies are lies of self-aggrandizement, trying to make themselves seem better than we are, as opposed to women, for whom the most common lie is a lie of social lubrication, of trying to make others feel OK.”

Part of the appeal of the series will be its use of actual footage of real-life personalities for Lightman’s careful analysis. The results might just put a few people in the hot seat. “You will see an unnamed politician — who I won’t give away — who we know has had affairs, and you will watch him giving a statement in which he says that he has been in love with the same woman for his entire life,” Baum says. “Then you will see the body language cue, which is called a one-sided shoulder shrug, which is a squelched shoulder shrug, that says, ‘I have absolutely no confidence in what I just said and I was lying.'”

© 2008 Fox Broadcasting Co. Credit: Mike Yarish/FOX