Stay-at-home celebrants will have plenty of choices on
cable on New Year's Eve, whether they're looking for gimmicks, movies or live news
For some networks, it's business as usual, or almost as
usual. Others are using repeats of millennium or century specials, while the news channels
are planning wall-to-wall global coverage of what seems like every minute of the last day
of 1999 and the first days of 2000.
The most ambitious original program scheduled to premiere
over New Year's may well be Nickelodeon's Nickellennium event. Starting at the
stroke of midnight, Nickelodeon will air thoughts about the future culled from interviews
with more than 10,000 children on five continents.
Sponsored solely by McDonald's Corp., the five-hour film by
documentary filmmaker Linda Schaffer will be available to nearly 100 million homes in 122
countries. It will be used in various formats during the 24 hours.
"I believe it's going to be one of the proudest
moments of my life with Nickelodeon," president Herb Scannell said as he explained
the project. "It only seems appropriate that if kids are the future, we ask them
about the future."
Nick also commissioned the producers of various shows to
create special episodes with the future as the theme. Those will air from 7 p.m. until
Nickelodeon's programs are ready to roll, but several other
cable networks will be working without a net in some respects as they try to produce 24 or
more hours of live coverage of New Year's Eve around the world.
Cable News Network, MSNBC and Fox News Channel are
committing massive resources to live spot-news coverage, while Pax TV has the exclusive
domestic rights to Millennium Live Humanity's Broadcast, billed as the
"largest live, interactive broadcast ever attempted."
The core production team for Millennium Live also
produced Live Aid, and it promised that this event will be even bigger. The celebration
will begin in Fiji and move west across 24 time zones with musical acts along the lines of
Sting, Spice Girls and Bryan Adams, as well as short original films and online
The news networks face a different task -- covering the
celebrations as breaking news while keeping an eye on possible Y2K problems.
CNN is teaming up with CNN International for most of the
100 hours of "Millennium 2000," promising 100 hours of coverage, including live
remotes from dozens of special reports and programs examining major issues at the turn of
To emphasize the particularly global nature of this pair of
milestones, anchors from the two networks are being paired for the first time, although
the lead team will still be made up of Bernard Shaw, Judy Woodruff and Larry King.
More than 50 CNN correspondents will be reporting live from
around the world, ranging from Christiane Amanpour at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich,
England, to staffers in New Zealand, Thailand, Iraq and Venezuela, in addition to those
spread out across the United States.
"We're a global network, and we want to cover the
millennium in a way that fits what CNN is," CNN Special Projects executive producer
Jerry Krieg said. "We'll show people what the world is doing as every sector
approaches midnight, what worries people, what concerns people, but we're going to do it
with a very balanced approach."
Krieg described balance as not jumping to conclusions when
some automated teller machines don't work -- after all, some don't work today.
Beginning at 4:30 a.m. Dec. 31, MSNBC's 30-plus hours of
continuous coverage will rely heavily on reports from NBC News correspondents stationed
around the world, with Brian Williams anchoring at midnight. John Gibson will report
overnight from the MSNBC.com newsroom in Redmond, Wash.
A special edition of The News with Brian Williams
Sunday, Jan. 2, will carry reports from around the world as other countries return to work
after the holiday.
OPENING BELLS CASCADE
CNBC will start its 2000 coverage at 5:30 a.m. Jan. 2, when
the world's first major market opens in New Zealand. Hourly special reports by CNBC and The
Wall Street Journal correspondents will follow. The special reports will continue
overnight as Europe wakes up and through the next day when the U.S. markets open.
There will be no looking back for FNC's The New
Millennium. Instead, the spin will be forward, as futurist Alvin Toffler and others
help the network to explore the next century. "It's a new time for us, a new time for
our viewers," senior producer Thom Bird said. FNC is counting on that attitude to set
it apart from the rest.
That doesn't mean the network will ignore the celebrations
or Y2K. Drawing on the international resources of parent News Corp. -- particularly
British Sky Broadcasting Group plc -- FNC will be able to air live from around the world
without deploying its own correspondents. Domestic remotes will include Roswell, N.M.,
where, for a fee, scientists will beam your message into outer space.
Some networks have been celebrating the millennium all year
and, in the process, they have been creating their programming for the milestone weekend.
"We felt as though if any network should own the
millennium, it's The History Channel," senior vice president of programming Abbe
Raven said. The network's tag line is, "The network of every millennium." Raven
ticked off a list of various programs that covered key events of the millennium.
History's most ambitious millennium project was The
Century: America's Time, the 15-and-one-half-hour series co-produced with ABC News,
which premiered this past April. The series will be the cornerstone of the network's New
Year's Eve programming as every episode runs back-to-back from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The
last episode will be followed by repeats of two Millennium specials hosted by Harry
Sister channel A&E Network will reprise its four-hour Biography
of the Millennium starting at 8 p.m. New Year's Eve. The special counts down a list of
the 100 people chosen through a survey as the most influential people of the millennium.
ESPN's focus has been on the century in sports. ESPN
started airing "classic moments" in September 1998 as a tease for the kickoff of
its SportsCentury project. During 1999, the network slowly unveiled its list of top
athletes of the century with a program each week.
The top athlete will be identified Dec. 26. Then, starting
Dec. 30, ESPN2 will host a marathon of all 50 programs, starting with No. 50 Chris Evert
and ending at midnight Dec. 31 with athletes No. 1 and 2.
American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies are among
networks relying on a stable of favorites to fill the schedule, rather than producing
original programming to mark the occasion.
AMC opted for "Millennium Mayhem," with vintage
screwball classics and The Three Stooges, while the folks at TCM scheduled 15 hours of
Elvis. Kissin' Cousins, made in 1963, will be on at midnight.
MUCH KID STUFF
The days when babysitting your kid brother meant a midnight
rendezvous with Guy Lombardo and Dick Clark are long gone. The children of this turn of
the century have access to more diversions than ever before, among them the Internet,
videos and interactive games.
Despite the competition, Disney Channel general manager and
executive vice president of programming and production Rich Ross expects plenty of
homebound kids to show up at Disney Channel's Zoog2K: Zoogin' New Yearz Eve Party.
He's hedged that bet by giving the inmates a chance to run the asylum.
"New Year's Eve has been a classic kidless
experience," Ross said. "We thought we'd combine kids getting a choice with
Visitors to www.ZoogDisney.com were able to log on
during the first two weeks of December to vote for their favorite shows in several
categories including concerts, original movies and series episodes. Their votes will
determine the schedule for New Year's Eve.
Visitors to the site also can post their predictions and
wishes for the future. Some of their messages will show up on the network during New
Mixing nostalgia and the future, Cartoon Network will air
every episode of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Inc.'s The Jetsons back-to-back from 10
a.m. Dec. 30 through midnight New Year's Eve. The marathon begins with episode No. 75 and
works its way back to No. 1.
The first 24 half-hour episodes debuted in primetime in
1962 and then moved to Saturday mornings for 15 years; the other 51 were produced in 1984.
With its bright, sometimes prescient view of the 21st
century, The Jetsons was an easy choice, vice president of programming Dea Perez
said. But the cartoon sitcom isn't the network's only salute to the flipping of the
At midnight, Cartoon will repeat Ego Trip, a
one-hour "millennium" episode of Dexter's Laboratory that premiered Dec.
10. There's also a wall-to-wall weekend of "Looney Tunes" beginning midnight
Dec. 17 and concluding midnight Dec. 19, which was planned to salute the acquisition of a
major "Looney Tunes" package previously held by Nickelodeon.
According to Perez, the marathon was already in the works
when they heard about Time Warner Inc. sibling Warner Bros.' plans for a
"Mil-LOONEY-um" marketing push. The result is the "Mil-LOONEY-um." The
cooperation "means more publicity and word out there," she added.