UPDATE The device that got a reality TV crew arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport last night was not a fake bomb, but a “vacuum compression luggage” device, says production company Endemol Shine North America.
According to Endemol, in a statement released tonight: “On January 18, some cast and crew members of an upcoming series, ‘Staten Island Hustle,’ produced by Left Hook Media and Endemol Shine North America for air on CNBC Primetime, were detained at Newark Airport. The team was producing an episode about a new product, vacuum compression luggage, which allows travelers more room for clothing and has no other intended use. Unfortunately, there appears to have been a misunderstanding, and we regret any inconvenience to TSA and other authorities on the ground for complications that may have been caused.”
Endemol would not elaborate beyond the statement.
The explanation – as unexpected as any reality show plot twist, and prompting as many questions as it answers – comes the day after members of a reality TV production crew were arrested last night at Newark Liberty International Airport for allegedly attempting to sneak what TSA screeners thought was intended as a fake bomb.
“Several arrested by police on Thursday after @TSA detected a suspicious item in a carry-on bag at aNewark Airport checkpoint,” tweeted a spokesperson for the Transportation Security Administration this morning. “They attempted to intentionally carry an item in a carry-on bag that had all of the makings of an IED and film it for a TV show. TSA caught them.”
CNN later reported that nine crew members were arrested and charged with conspiracy to create a public alarm, among other charges. The Essex Country Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case, with a possible court date pending. The men could face security violation penalties of more than $13,000, according to reports.
Port Authority police, who have jurisdiction over the airport in New Jersey, said told reporters that the arrested men claimed to work for a production company affiliated with Endemol Shine Group but provided no media credentials.
The men were working on the upcoming CNBC reality show Staten Island Hustle, a spring 2018 series following a group of Staten Island, NY, friends and businessmen looking for “far-fetched” products and ideas for investments.
Last night, Endemol issued a statement saying, “While this process is ongoing we are unable to comment further but in the meantime, we sincerely apologize for any disruption caused.”
A New York Daily News report said a law enforcement source indicated the TV crew “admitted they wanted to record the Transportation Security Administration’s reactions when they found the device.” Said the source, a “TSA bomb tech just happened to be (at the checkpoint). He quickly looked it over, said it was nothing and they were taken in.”
CNBC had no comment on the matter.