Nets line up game shows



Get ready for lies. No, not from politicians. Not even from network suits. There's a new crop of game shows coming that hinge on whether contestants are bluffing. And those programs could make air sooner rather than later, if Hollywood writers continue to strike.

Filming has wrapped on ABC's "Wanna Bet?," a game show based on a German format, in which celebrities wager on stunt-performing contestants. Also in production is Duel, based on a French format, in which players gamble for prizes, using the bluff as part of their strategy. On CBS' "Do You Trust Me?," strangers team up for money, wagering on how much each can depend on the other. On Fox's "Moment of Truth," premiering Jan. 23 (and based on a Colombian format), contestants answer questions about their own lives, strapping themselves to lie detectors in a quest for cash. NBC's "Amnesia" also delves into players' personal lives.

Steve Sternberg, Magna Global's executive vp audience analysis, said any bluffing trend in game shows may signal broadcasters' attempts to find the next "Deal or No Deal." "The networks are always looking to put a new spin on what's working," he said.

The show with perhaps the newest -- and unlikeliest -- spin is Fox's "Moment of Truth." Five years ago, the network tried and failed with extreme game show "The Chamber," while ABC had similar results with "The Chair."

But with stories about torture and interrogation continuing to make headlines, some advertisers said viewers still may not want to embrace such dark show concepts. "We weren't ready as a culture to embrace it then, and I don't think we're ready now," said Laura Caraccioli-Davis, executive vp at Starcom Entertainment.

What viewers are ready for, everyone seems to agree, are family-friendly game shows. Shows that aren't too risque. Shows, Sternberg said, that "adults can watch with kids in the room."

And that's just what NBC hopes it has with "Amnesia." Craig Plestis, the network's executive vp of alternative programming, compared the eight-episode series to the classic "This Is Your Life," "but with stakes to it," he said, adding "Amnesia" was much more light-hearted than Fox's "Moment of Truth."

Of course, the two networks have battled over formats before, the most recent time occurring after NBC announced "The Singing Bee," and Fox followed with "Don't Forget the Lyrics." But Plestis said this time around it's no contest. "They're completely different formats," he said of "Amnesia" and "Truth." "So I don't see this as a race."