By JOHN CURRAN, Associated Press Writer
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - How about Miss Arkansas in a cat fight with Miss Texas? Or Miss Alaska plotting with Miss Tennessee to get Miss Maine voted off the runway? Or a swimsuit contest featuring bikini-clad women walking the runway while covered in leeches? For Miss America, such scenarios would've been unthinkable once — when all it took to win was a fetching smile, a modicum of talent and a tight swimsuit. But Miss America's in for an extreme makeover.
Dropped by two networks as a ratings loser, the pageant is desperately in need of a lifeline of its own, apparently ready to shuck its squeaky-clean demeanor in favor of the snarky negativity that fuels reality TV.
Whether the pageant is ready to resort to "Fear Factor"-inspired gross-outs, "Survivor"-style conniving or week-to-week eliminations a la "American Idol" remains to be seen. If the fates of rival Miss USA are any indication, though, future contestants may need strong stomachs more than singing ability.