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Friday, January 25, 2008 - Page updated at 10:41 AM

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Lie-Detector TV Series Has Big Opening

AP Television Writer

Strap you to a polygraph and you'll have to admit _ you checked out a little of Fox's "The Moment of Truth."

The new lie-detector reality show was seen by 23.2 million viewers Wednesday night, the most-watched series debut in more than a year. Among young viewers, it was the top-rated series debut in five years.

"The Moment of Truth" was given Fox's golden ticket: a time slot directly following "American Idol." Among viewers aged 18 to 49, the series kept 94 percent of the "Idol" audience, the best-ever retention rate for a show Fox has aired after its top series, according to Nielsen Media Research.

"American Idol," which has seen its ratings sag a bit in its seventh season, drew 26.8 million viewers Wednesday.

"The Moment of Truth" has contestants answer increasingly personal and embarrassing questions with the possibility of earning $500,000 for telling the truth. A former football player on Wednesday's debut, for instance, was asked if he ever peeked at his teammates in the shower, and whether he had flirted with women on the Internet after he was married.

Mike Darnell, Fox's president of alternative entertainment, said contestants are not forced to go on. Since the actual polygraph examination is given a few days before the show's taping, the contestants know what the questions are before going on the air. They can also call it quits at any point in the game.

"What I care about is it is causing a dialogue about telling the truth," he said.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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