Kelsey McNeal, Fox
"Moment" host Mark Walberg and an embarrassed contestant.

Howard Schultz wants us to trust him.

The producer of shows such as "Studs," "Love Shack" and "Extreme Makeover" (the plastic surgery show) wants us to believe that he can make Fox's new series "Moment of Truth" something other than tawdry.

"Is it in your face?" Schultz asked in a teleconference with TV critics. "Is it confrontational? Is it new and different? Might there be a sting or a wound, here or there? Yes. In the hands of another producer, this show could be a bloodbath. I'm not that way."

"Moment of Truth" (8 p.m., Ch. 13) challenges contestants to answer 21 "increasingly personal" questions. If a lie-detector determines they've been honest, they can win $500,000. They have a chance to change their answer between the time the polygraph is administered, and they can walk away at any time.

Schultz insists he "was just getting sick and tired of how much lying is going on in the world. We just tend to live in a spin zone all the time."

"I wasn't raised that way. I'm a firm believer that the truth does set us free. I think you can't really get to some of the bigger problems in the world until you first recognize that there's something called the truth."

Gee, this may be the first game show ever to win a Nobel Prize.

Or maybe not, with questions such as, "Do you find any of your spouse's friends attractive?" and "Would you cheat on your spouse if you thought you could get away with it?"

Chances are, it's not going to get as nasty as the Colombian version , which was canceled after a woman admitted she'd hired a hitman to kill her husband. Although Schultz said that one contestant and his girlfriend "broke up right after the show" because "some of the questions brought out in him was the fact that he had not been terribly faithful to her."

But, you'll be thrilled to know, "She went back to him. I guess it all ended well," Schultz said.

There are a couple of lines the show won't cross. One is "any question that pertains to minor children where a minor can be affected in any way." The other is "the restrictions of the FCC" that prohibit "things that are graphically sexual and stuff like that. Aside from that, we're basically willing to go anywhere."

The most astonishing thing about "Moment of Truth" and all the other shows that feature "regular" people humiliating themselves is that there are so many willing participants. What in the world possesses them?

"It's the desire to be on television. That's definitely an element.," Schultz said. "Another desire is wanting to win a lot of money. In many cases, the people who come on the show believe that they are honest people and that they've got nothing to hide. In some cases ... they believe they're honest people, but they're not afraid to discover there are areas in their life that they're lying.

"Some people do the show because they believe they won't get caught, and they can get it by us."

Schultz would love to see some celebrity guests.

"Number one on my list is Roger Clemens right now," he said. "Number two on my list would be Sen. Larry Craig."

Now that would be worth watching.


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