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Fox has picked up the Tim Roth-starring drama pilot “Lie to Me” to series.
The network has handed out a 13-episode order to the Imagine TV/20th TV crime procedural for a midseason launch.
Inspired by real-life behavioral scientist Paul Ekman, “Lie to Me” centers on deception expert Cal Lightman (Roth), who runs a private agency contracted by the FBI, local police, law firms, corporations and private citizens when they hit roadblocks in their searches for the truth.
Kelli Williams co-stars as Lightman’s professional partner, with Brendan Hines and Monica Raymund rounding out the cast.
“Lie,” whose lead is reminiscent of Hugh Laurie’s Dr. House, has been touted as a potential “House”-size hit for Fox. It ranked as one of 20th TV’s best-testing pilots ever.
“It has the commercial potential to be a franchise where you can tell episodic stories for five to six seasons, while creatively it has real integrity and a fresh hook that are hard to come by in a crime show,” Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said.
Reilly wouldn’t elaborate where “Lie” would end up on the network’s midseason schedule and whether it might be paired with “House,” but he called the series “a very important piece of the (scheduling) puzzle.”
“Lie,” which was ordered to pilot in October, stood out from the start with its tone and the storytelling style of creator Sam Baum, 20th TV chairman Dana Walden said.
“He has a very clear vision, and he has been dogged about putting the exact right pieces in place,” she said.
Those included tapping Robert Schwentke to direct the pilot and pursuing Roth to star.
Baum is exec producing “Lie” with Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Steve Maeda.
For Grazer, whose Imagine TV also co-produces the Fox drama “24,” “Lie” has been a passion project for five years, since he met Ekman and decided to do a crime series built around a deception expert.
” ‘Lie to Me’ has a sensibility that is very similar to ’24,’ and it’s also intense like ’24,’ ” Grazer said.
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