FOX will add Lie To Me, a new show starring Tim Roth (The Incredible Hulk), to its spring schedule. The new series will follow American Idol on Wednesdays, and it is based on an elite team of experts who crack cases using the science of lying. The show was created by Samuel Baum (The Evidence), and he spoke about the show to television journalists via conference call.
The idea for the show came from some research Baum had been doing on lying. He explained, "I was just completely fascinated by the idea that you could tell if someone was lying just by looking at them without their saying a word … This science of deception detection is based on the work of Dr. Paul Ekman who is the world’s leading deception expert. And Paul has contracted himself with the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and pretty much every government agency to consult in deception-related fields."
Baum quickly realised the potential for a drama series with a broad appeal and is very happy with the excellent time slot the series has been given, following the American Idol results show on Wednesdays. He feels the series "is perfect for reaching a broad audience, because lying is such a part of the fabric of our everyday life. And also the fact that the whole focus of the science is that it’s universal; that we all look the same when we lie and we all look the same when we conceal emotions."
Lie To Me features Dr. Cal Lightman (Roth) heading up a team of experts who assist federal law enforcement, government agencies, and local police with their most difficult cases. The team consists of Lightman, psychologist Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams, The Practice), researcher Will Loker (Brendan Hines: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), and newest member Ria Torres (Monica Raymund, Law and Order: SVU). Asked whether they actually investigate the cases themselves, Baum confirmed that they do, as the type of cases they take on do not depend on the finding of physical evidence, but rather on who is lying and why.
The executive producer explained that "determining if someone is lying is just the beginning of our story. The real question is: why is someone lying? Is someone lying because they committed the crime they’re being accused of? Is someone lying to protect someone else? Is there a secret that’s unrelated to the crime that they’re so ashamed of that will come out if they tell the truth that they’re forced to lie?" In pursuit of the truth about lies, the team will use sophisticated techniques such as voice stress analysis, speech analysis, analysis of body movements, body language and the work of recognizing facial micro expressions.
The dramatic series may have the solving of psychological mysteries at its core, but the premise lends itself to comedic notes as well, as Lightman continuously lives in the world of Too Much Information. Baum says the comedy comes from "the everyday lies that we all suffer from, you know, the guy who steals your parking space and lies to you, to the hot dog guy when you ask if the hot dogs are fresh who lies to you and says, ‘Oh, of course they are.’ I mean, everywhere he goes he sees the truth. And so it lends itself to comedy."
And that makes the casting of Tim Roth a real coup. The British actor will be a familiar face to many from his work in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, and his resume shows how readily he moves between comedy and drama. Initially resistant to the idea of doing a television series, Roth became fascinated with the science and the challenge of playing a character having to live with knowing too much about what people really mean.
Asked whether his own life had been affected by what he knows about lying, Baum laughed and said, "Yes, there are a lot of things that I see now that I was blind to before, and basically my agents will only deal with me on the phone now because they can’t lie anymore."
Lie To Me will premiere on FOX Wednesday, January 21 at 9:00 PM (ET), following American Idol.
Photo credits: Group shot: Joe Viles/FOX; Tim Roth: Mike Yarish/FOX