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Interview with Meet My Folks' Polygraph Expert Nick Savastanoby Andrea Shuman -- 01/16/2003
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Pass the smelling salts. I've just gotten off the phone with Nick Savastano, the man who can spot all fibbers great and small, armed only with his lie detector and a Mona Lisa smile. For those who follow NBC's Meet My Folks here on RealityNewsOnline, you know that my heart was given over to the mysterious mustachioed polygraph expert last summer, when the show premiered.
Due to hectic schedules (his, not mine) and the sneaky machinations of Nash Entertainment to keep Nick under wraps until just before the second season, Nick and I were unable to speak of this unbridled passion (mine, not his) until now. But the wait was worth it.
Our phone call was chaperoned by Meet My Folks Executive Producer Scott Satin (you can see my previous interviews with Scott here and here). Unfortunately, this forced me to abandon plans of seductively whispering: "So, Nick, baby… tell me what you're wearing. And do it slowly." Brenton Metzler, Scott's assistant, was also on the line, just in case decorum completely broke down and he had to slap everyone silly.
Andrea: I'm so excited to finally be able to talk to you, Nick!
Nick Savastano: It's a real pleasure, Andrea. Everyone here loves RealityNewsOnline's articles about Meet My Folks. You are our favorite web site!
Andrea: Thank you, that's quite an honor. I'd like to start out by asking what the reaction has been to your newfound fame. Are you mobbed by screaming teens at the mall?
Nick: (laughing) No, that hasn't happened yet, and I can't figure out why! Actually, the reaction has been very positive, and a lot of fun. I've gotten great support from my family; my kids think it's really cool, and my sister in New York emails everyone she knows whenever an episode is on. My friends have had a range of reactions, everything from "Oh my God!" to "How did you ever get that gig?"
Andrea: Well, how did you?
Nick: Scott had asked everyone involved with the show for ideas on who they could use for a polygraph expert. A production assistant happened to know a friend of mine who's a private investigator like myself. He recommended me.
Scott Satin: I just want to add that I had many different interviews lined up, but the moment I finished talking to Nick, I cancelled the rest of them. He was obviously our man. He has the right sense of humor for our show.
Andrea: Nick, what's been the most unexpected part of being involved with Meet My Folks?
Nick: I have to say I honestly didn't expect the warm, family-type atmosphere among the production crew. I thought it would be all business; you know, cold and "Hollywood." But the people here are terrific, fun and funny, and it's been a real joy working with them. And I'm learning a lot about television production.
Andrea: Would you like to get into that line of work yourself?
Nick: Well, I've been a private investigator for many years. Before that, I was a state trooper in Massachusetts. I'm not saying I want a career change, but television's an interesting business.
Andrea: Speaking of which, how's your personal polygraph business?
Nick: Through the roof, thanks to the show.
Andrea: So, have you raised your rates?
Nick: Not at all. My rates are exactly what they were before the show started.
Andrea: How do you think Meet My Folks has affected the image of polygraph machines in general? Have they been legitimized?
Nick: The show has had an extremely positive impact. I get phone calls from polygraph experts from all over the country thanking me for bringing in more business. People are coming to their offices, mentioning Meet My Folks, and wanting to test prospective spouses, their kids, and so forth. The polygraph business is booming.
[Author's Note: I'm not sure if this is a positive sign about where our society is heading. "Will you, John, take Susie to be your lawfully wedded wife, forsaking all others? Before you answer, let me hook you up to this machine…"]
Andrea: Is there any way for a subject to prepare for a polygraph? Can someone beat the machine?
Nick: There are dozens of websites out there that talk about counter-measures you can use, like tightening certain muscles, using drugs or alcohol, biting your lip, putting a tack in your shoe, things like that. But experts not only know all these counter-measures; we also know how to catch them.
If a polygraph expert spots a counter-measure, all we do is turn off the machine and say, "This test is over. You are attempting to give the machine an inaccurate reading, so I have no choice but to conclude all your answers are false." That pulls the rug out from under them very quickly.
Scott: On this season of Meet My Folks, you'll see a guy trying to do this. His face got all scrunched up, his breathing was short and rapid, and he made his voice sound funny. Basically, he looked like an idiot!
Nick: But it didn't work. He didn't fool the polygraph at all.1 2 Next-->
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