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The pilot program begins April 1 at airports in Los Angeles and New York. "Those are cities where we have a lot of folks hamming it up on the security lines anyway," said TSA arts and entertainment director Lance Strongarm. "So we thought we'd give it a try."
Some passengers will be able to volunteer to perform; others will be chosen at random by TSA officers to step out of line and into the spotlight. "Yes, there will actually be spotlights," said Strongarm. "We want to do this right."
Passengers waiting to be screened will be invited to vote, by clapping, whistling or booing, on whether the person performing goes to the front – or the back – of the line.
"It will be a cross between 'America's Got Talent' and 'Survivor' - but at the airport," said Strongarm. And because the TSA already has cameras filming all activity that takes place at checkpoint areas, "it will be easy to provide footage for the reality show we're shopping around that will help generate needed funds for TSA operations," he said.
One TSA officer, who asked not to be identified by name, gave thumbs up to the plan. "We really don't want to touch your junk," he said, "but we would appreciate hearing some nice funk or folk music while going through your things."
Travelers polled at LAX Terminal 4 over the weekend gave mixed reactions to the new plan. "I love it and will go practice juggling small knives and souvenir bats as soon as I get home," said one passenger, noting that those items will soon be allowed back on airplanes as carry-on items. "I'd say it sounds like an April Fool Day joke," said another, "but we all know the TSA has absolutely no sense of humor."
[Find more by Harriet Baskas on StuckatTheAirport.com and follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas]