Moment of the Truth

By JOSHUA GOODMAN, Associated Press Writer

Colombia – The hit game show “Nothing But the Truth” has been canceled after a contestant won $25,000 for admitting she hired someone to kill her husband.

Tuesday was the final day for the show, in which contestants attached to a lie-detector machine answered 21 increasingly invasive questions to win up to $50,000.

A U.S version called “Moment of the Truth” is still expected to be launched on Fox in the coming months, along with spin-offs in England, Australia, Germany, Italy and Spain, according to Howard Schultz, the Los Angeles-based creator of the show.

On the Colombian version, dollar-desperate contestants confessed everything from drug smuggling to homosexual prostitution before a studio audience packed with unsuspecting loved ones.

It drew high ratings and spurred a boom in polygraph usage among private companies trying to screen employees and protect themselves from infiltration by Colombia’s well-organized mafias.

But the show also generated sharp rebukes from U.S. polygraph examiners, family values groups and legal experts who likened the spectacle to a modern-day Roman circus that sanctions criminal behavior. Complaints of indecency also poured in to Colombia’s national television commission.

The episode that sealed the show’s fate was broadcast Oct. 2, when Rosa Maria Solano admitted she had hired a hit man to rub out her husband. “The crime couldn’t be carried out because the hit man tipped off my husband and he ran away forever — God save me,” said Solano after her revelation.

Facing negative public reaction and the threat of legal action for being an after-the-fact accessories to crime, Caracol Television pulled the plug.

Schultz, the creator of such reality TV hits as ABC’s “Extreme Makeover,” said he was unfamiliar with the controversial episode in Colombia, but did not fear it would slow the worldwide rollout.

“We’re very careful about the questions we ask,” he said, “and would never sanction any criminal behavior.”