- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 16, 1999

Look out. Millennial media is just around the corner.
Broadcast and cable networks are planning what portends to be a near overwhelming mix of live broadcast, analysis, commentary and sheer hype that dwarfs election night, the Super Bowl and the Jerry Lewis telethon put together.
In some cases, this coverage will go on for days, starting with the first dawn of the New Year somewhere in the South Pacific and relentlessly heading eastward from one time zone to another.
CNN leads the pack with “Millennium 2000,” which they bill as “the most extraordinary programming initiative.” At 100 hours, it is the longest and most intricate.
Things get under way at 5 a.m. on Dec. 31, and go through the morning of Jan. 4, featuring 60 correspondents around the world, 4,000 production people, 50 special reports, 100 transmission signals, 35 news bureaus, 800 affiliates, 14 satellites, 17 satellite trucks and five satellite dishes.
And, oh yes, 45 satellite phones.
The fare is both typical intense reporters stationed in front of a big hoopla somewhere and the not-so-typical. Larry King, for example, will feature the Rev. Billy Graham and the Dalai Lama on the same program New Year’s Eve.
CNN will journey to Pitt Island in the South Pacific, which they say is the “first human-populated location to see dawn.” High on a hilltop, the cable giant advises, “a Moriori elder will mark the ceremony hand-in-hand with a child.”
ABC, NBC and MSNBC will also start their coverage in the wee hours of Dec. 31, and also in the South Pacific.
“ABC 2000” revs up at the uninhabited Kiribati Islands about halfway between Hawaii and Australia at 4:50 a.m. It is, they say, the “site of the first sunrise.”
The network will end up with none other than Dick Clark on Times Square, though Mr. Clark’s role has been somewhat diminished this year.
Though he has been rocking in the New Year since 1972, Mr. Clark only warrants 30 minutes this year, with no show.
“Is Dick jumping up and down, ecstatic that there’s no show?” asked his publicist, Paul Shefrin. “Of course not.”
The year 2000, after all, has become a news event rather than a plain old, tacky holiday.
“If all we did was cover fireworks and balls dropping, it wouldn’t be a very useful enterprise,” said Tim Yellin, who is coordinating ABC’s coverage for the night.
While NBC offers hourly updates from 16 correspondents around the world throughout Jan. 31, MSNBC has planned 30 continuous hours of coverage beginning at 4:30 a.m., including “a team of MSNBC computer and utility experts following any Y2K problems throughout the world.”
Commercial enterprise has not been overlooked.
Euro RSCG Worldwide, the world’s fifth-largest advertising agency, is determined to air the first commercial of the new year.
It has created a 90-second advertisement that will air at 12:00:01 am on Jan. 1, 2000, from the local television station in the Chatham Islands, which the agency says is “the first inhabited land mass to see the new millennium.”
Not to be outdone, Comedy Central is telling its viewers to “take a break from stockpiling arms and canned goods” for three year-2000 salutes, which include “Are You there God, it’s me Jesus” with the infamously foul-mouthed South Park animated characters.
It is MTV, perhaps, which has taken the most bizarre route.
From Dec. 26 through New Year’s Day, the network and its companion Web site will place six people in a “cavernous Y2K-proof human-capsule deep in the bowels of Times Square.”
The group will stay for a week, all in view of MTV Web cams, which will broadcast the whole thing live over the Internet.
“When they emerge, in the event that the rest of the population has been wiped out in a millennial apocalypse, they will serve the planet as modern-day Adams and Eves. If not, they’ll just wander home and maybe visit a sun-tan parlor,” MTV advises.
The music video network is already auditioning for volunteers.
“The Bunker Project combines Web voyeurism with reality television and on-line audience participation to create an entirely new form of entertainment that is interactive, and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” noted producer Allie Eberhardt.

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