The Drama Factor
With all of these factors in play, there's bound to be some drama on the show. And I'm not talking about the manufactured pauses between questions to up the anticipation! I asked Mr. Schultz if many contestants had pushed the envelope and made it all the way to the top of the prize ladder. His answer? "I will tell you that thus far, no one has made it all the way."
He went on to explain that there are only two ways to make money in the game: quit while you've banked some, or keep going and win it all. But if the contestant is caught lying by the polygraph machine, it's game over. The questions become so personal as the game continues that no one has been willing to push through to the end so far.
I also wanted to know how the friends and families react when a contestant quits and wins some money. Are they happy for the contestant, or are they upset with what's been revealed during the game? Mr. Wahlberg responded that there's usually happiness in the air, but also a huge sense of relief all around that it's actually over.
"But yes, there are some raw nerves, there is some emotion to this. Certainly there are tears; there is anger at some point," said Wahlberg. "But my experience is that those who take money and leave are thrilled to have it and are grateful for the process." Sometimes, the contestants and their loved ones are even grateful that these issues have been addressed and brought out in the open.
The Big Bad Polygraph Machine
During the conference call, the legitimacy of the polygraph machine was addressed. Mr. Schultz told us that the administrator of the polygraphs is certified and a member of the American Polygraph Association who has been administering these tests for over 25 years.
Producers of The Moment of Truth "do not get involved in any of [the polygraph expert's] decision making," to ensure integrity. Mr. Shultz went on to explain that these tests are 94-98% accurate, and all contestants sign a release that explicitly states their willingness to accept the results.
Following Up After the Show
Earlier I mentioned that Mark L. Wahlberg had said that some families were relieved that certain issues had been brought to light on the show. In future episodes, viewers will be able to catch up with some contestants to see how the show affected their lives and their relationships. And in some cases, The Moment of Truth actually helps to heal old wounds.
Mr. Shultz told of one contestant who had previously had a gambling addiction.
"We surprised him with his son and his son comes on and asks, 'Have you ever gambled away any of my college fund?' And the man says, 'For five years, my ex-wife has been telling my kids that my gambling problem meant that I took money from them and took money from their college fund.' He said, 'I don’t know what this polygraph is going to say, but I never did.' And the polygraph proved that he never did. And he says on the show, 'If I don’t win a dime on this show, I just got my money’s worth.'"
What To Expect From the Show
From a producer's standpoint, The Moment of Truth addresses the fact that we've become "a nation of liars." And there's a certain truth to that statement. From the tabloid headlines to politics to the average person's daily life, we all encounter a considerable number of lies along the way. While a game show may not be the best platform to figure out why this happens or how we can move towards a more truthful future, it will certainly spawn a great many water-cooler discussions.
There's a very good chance that the sensationalism of the show and the underlying voyeuristic tendencies of the viewing public will make it just another game show that relies on shock value to draw an audience. But there's also an opportunity to tread carefully and allow contestants and their loved ones to heal old wounds and move on together.
We'll see which path is actually taken.
The Moment of Truth premieres Wednesday, January 23rd at 9pm on FOX, directly following American Idol.