By EW Staff
August 18, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Monty Brinton

8-9 PM · CBS · Debuts Sept. 19

CONCEPT This reality series drops a bunch of kids — between ages 8 and 15 — in a New Mexico ghost town and challenges them to forge a working society.

THE SCOOP With its myriad images of weeping children, the controversial show caused an immediate furor, but executive producer Tom Forman says it’s just alternative programming at its purest: ”[This] feels more real than any reality show we’ve ever seen. The kids are incredibly honest. When they are sad, absolutely — they cry.”

BOTTOM LINE Honesty is one thing, but Kid Nation faces tougher issues: People have cried foul over everything from the contracts families signed, to the children’s living conditions, to whether the production violated New Mexico state child labor laws. (The series ”was filmed responsibly and within all applicable laws,” responded CBS.) That avalanche of bad press could prove too much to overcome.