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TV PRESS TOUR

'Lie to Me' on Fox to focus on developing characters

The first season introduced viewers to the science. With Shawn Ryan in charge, the new season will delve more into the lives of the scientists, and add some adrenaline.

August 08, 2009|Maria Elena Fernandez and Denise Martin

When CBS canceled "The Unit," 20th Century Fox Television didn't waste time in asking its show runner, Shawn Ryan, to move to Fox's "Lie to Me" to become that drama's boss.

Ryan, who also created "The Shield" for FX, appeared at a news conference at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena with creator Samuel Baum, who still serves as an executive producer, to discuss what he hopes to bring to the sophomore series.

Inspired by the scientific discoveries of Dr. Paul Ekman, a psychologist who can read clues embedded in the human face, body and voice to expose the truth and lies in criminal investigations, "Lie to Me" stars Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, the world's leading deception expert.

"I want to push it a little bit more in a character direction, add a little bit more adrenaline," Ryan said, noting that he doesn't mean he's going to turn Dr. Lightman into Jack Bauer. "I just want to get to know these characters better. . . . The show is ultimately based on a group of scientists. But the fact is they are people who are diving into the middle of charged cases. They are going to be in emotionally and physically harrowing situations at times. And I think the pace of the show will just get some juice."

In the first season, Baum said he wanted to introduce viewers to the science. But now, with Ryan's help, the characters will be challenged on a personal level, he added.

The science, Ryan said, differentiates the series from other shows, especially from "The Mentalist," which features Simon Baker as a mind reader of sorts. "We want to tell stories that you can't find anywhere else," Ryan said.

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A hero's role on 'Human Target'

The plan for Fox's midseason drama "Human Target": put the "action" in action hero.

Based on the comic book and graphic novel of the same name, the one-hour series centers on Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), a bodyguard-for-hire with a special skill: He can integrate himself seamlessly into his clients' lives to become the human target.

Writer-executive producer Jonathan E. Steinberg, an action-movie junkie, said his goal was to create a hero for television that would bring to mind the ones he grew up watching on film. Among them, Indiana Jones and "Die Hard's" John McClane.

Valley said the action is real. The show's stunts have already claimed some casualties too. Like his pants. "I never ripped my pants on 'Boston Legal,' " he said.

Danny Glover even turns up for a scene in the pilot -- the result of pleading from Steinberg himself.

"We wanted it to make the show like 'Lethal Weapon' and 'Die Hard' and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' " he said. "So I wrote him a fan letter and he came and he did an episode, which was pretty cool."

Chance also has a dark past and two sidekicks to go with it: business partner Winston (Chi McBride) and a hired gun (Jackie Earle Haley). Haley, who next stars as Freddy Krueger in "Nightmare on Elm Street," said he made the leap to TV so he could work on something his 10-year-old could watch.

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maria.elena.fernandez

@latimes.com

denise.martin@latimes.com

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