Over the past five year, I’ve written a billion columns about American Idol. I’ve got nothing left to say about it. It returns tonight at 8 p.m. on Fox and CTV, Another two-hour audition show airs tomorrow.

Will it roar back as big as ever? Probably. The other networks are still terrified by it. There was not much standing in its way even back before the writers strike ripped through the schedules. It will be interesting to see if the new Tuesday and Wednesday CBC shows, JPod and Sophie, can survive given a one week head start.

In a conference call with critics last week, Fox’s highest-paid star, Simon Cowell, shrugged off speculation that the show might be ready to slip. “Last year just wasn’t one of our better seasons,” he said, admitting they dodged a bullet when Sideshow Bob-maned distraction Sanjiah temporarily hijacked the show.

Although Idol was still dominant, a few million viewers did bail last spring. Cowell feels that, based on the auditioners so far, this season should be much more legit and interesting. He agrees that the “show has to look better, has to be more fun.” To that end they’ve tweaked the set, allowed the kids to play their own instruments and given Paul Abdul permission to start sleeping with contestants again (kidding!).

Fox is counting on Idol to jump start its strike replacement programming, including The Moment Of Truth, a new reality show starting Jan. 23 (following next Wednesday’s Idol). Hosted by Mark L. Walberg, the series hooks participants up to a lie detector and a polygraph expert asks a series of questions. If they keep telling the truth, players can win the grand prize of $500,000. Sounds too easy, but as the stakes get higher, the questions get more personal. For example: Do you find any of your spouse’s friends attractive? Have you ever stolen anything at work? Do you find this idea lame? Family, friends and co-workers are sitting out front. Attorneys are standing by.


EW.com calls The Moment of Truth “…one of those is-it-genius-or-is-it-the-end-of-Western-Civilization? masterpieces.” Fox Publicity was so pleased with that back-handed compliment they lead with it on their press release.

TV Feeds My Family is looking forward to the celebrity version featuring Roger Clemens, Brian Mulroney, Paula Abdul and O.J. Simpson. If the strike drags on, don’t bet it won’t happen.


  1. Howard Stern’s gonna be pissed about this Moment Of Truth show. Sounds like a blatant rip of that recurring bit they do with Ed Torian The Lie Detector Guy, a bit that’s been stolen in the past by Sally Jessy Raphael and Jenny Jones. Just add this to the growing list of TV shows that blatantly steal from him: Are You Hot? (a rip-off of The Evaluators), Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? (originally, porn stars and strippers vs. primary students), and that show on PBS that basically did a TV version of The Homeless Game. I wish I could remember the name of it. Street Smarts? Street Sense? I’m drawing a blank.

  2. You are right, Dennis, Stern was there first on this and should sue their pants off. I can’t remember the name of that PBS ripoff, either (anybody else out there remember it?), but you’d think PBS would be the last place to steal from Stern.

  3. It was Street Smarts. (My first guess turned out to be right.) It was a syndicated show that aired from 2000-2005. I Googled “The Homeless Game” and the title popped up on the first page. Stern has said that he was approached by the producers to turn his Homeless Game into a proper TV version. Stern refused. They went ahead anyway with their own unauthorized rip-off. OMNI’s website has a show page for it (http://www.omnitv.ca/tv/streetsmarts/) and there’s a Wikipedia entry under Street Smarts (game show) but I haven’t been able to find any PBS-related links. I could’ve sworn though that their Buffalo affiliate aired it but I stand to be corrected if I’m wrong.

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