U.S. Millennium Gala: Monuments, GlitZ Gadjetry

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Tuesday September 28 5:31 PM ET

U.S. Millennium Gala: Monuments, Glitz, Gadgetry

By Peter Szekely

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Take America's best known monuments, add Hollywood glitz, high-tech gadgetry, music and 100,000 revelers, top off with fireworks, wait 95 days and you'll have the nation's official millennium celebration.

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled plans for Washington's three-day, $12.5 million ``America's Millennium'' party Tuesday, promising ``a National Mall bathed in lights at the midnight hour'' for the thousands on hand and millions of television viewers.

``This is a tremendous opportunity to really unite our nation, to capture an extraordinary moment in American and human history,'' Mrs. Clinton said.

In contrast to the urban setting of what may be the world's most widely known New Year's party, New York's Times Square, just 250 miles to the northeast, the Washington gala will be held on the grassy mall that connects the Capitol Building, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

With the arrival of midnight and the year 2000 will come a high-tech display of sound, light and fireworks that movie producer and director George Stevens Jr., a co-producer of the celebration, is keeping secret.

``I think that's going to be something that will reveal itself at midnight,'' Stevens said. ``But it will be in the sky and it will be inspiring.''

Stevens said he and his co-producer, musician Quincy Jones, are still lining up talent for the event, which will be hosted by rap artist turned actor Will Smith.

Among the highlights will be ``The Unfinished Journey,'' an 18-minute motion picture by director Steven Spielberg showing highlights of the 20th century with music by composer John Williams.

Stevens said the movie will be shown on two digital screens on either side of the Lincoln Memorial and will be broadcast to the nation along with the rest of the evening's events on the CBS television network, starting at 10 p.m. EST.

He said the Lincoln Memorial was selected as the stage for the New Year's Eve event in part because of its historical significance -- it was where black opera singer Marian Anderson performed when the Daughters of the American Revolution barred her from singing in Constitution Hall in 1939 and where Martin Luther King gave his ``I have a dream'' speech in 1963.

Musical talent includes blues legend B.B. King, singer Aretha Franklin, former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and rock 'n' roll pioneer Chuck Berry. Also slated to appear are children's book author Virginia Hamilton, song leader Ella Jenkins and other literary and scientific figures.

``We have created a free, family-oriented celebration that will highlight the arts, the history, the achievements and innovations of the American century we are about to leave behind and peer toward the limitless possibilities of the new millennium we are about to begin,'' said Mrs. Clinton.

``Needless to say this will be no ordinary party and no ordinary time,'' she added.

The more than 100,000 people expected to attend the New Year's Eve finale of the three-day celebration on the National Mall will be able to watch the midnight millennium celebrations of Asia and Europe that come before through satellite hookups.

Mayor Anthony Williams offered assurances that the events would not be affected by the Y2K computer glitch that threatens disruption if computers mistake the year 2000 for 1900.

``The long and the short of it is, our systems are going to work,'' said Williams.



-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), September 28, 1999


My guess is that if people here in the U.S. on the morning of December 31st see significant Y2K problems in Asia on TV as Asia rolls over into 2000, there won't be many people showing up for events such as these.


[Fair Use: For Educational/Research Purposes Only]

Tuesday September 28 6:26 PM ET

Clintons Leading Millennium Gala

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Clinton will address the American people as part of a splashy outdoor millennium gala in the final minutes of New Year's Eve on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

``This will be no ordinary party for no ordinary time,'' Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday. ``This is a tremendous opportunity to really unite our nation.'' Along with the Clintons, the event will have actor Will Smith as host and will include a special film directed by Steven Spielberg.

The first lady announced the celebration, ``America's Millennium: A Celebration for the Nation,'' along with Washington Mayor Anthony Williams and George Stevens Jr., who will co-produce the show along with Quincy Jones.

In her weekly newspaper column, ``Talking It Over,'' the first lady said Clinton will speak to the nation just after Spielberg's film is shown on large screens on either side of the memorial, and before the ``Midnight Moment,'' a high-tech light display planned for the stroke of midnight.

Stevens declined to specify what would happen at the precise moment the century turns. ``That is something that will reveal itself at midnight,'' he said. ``It will be in the sky, and it will be inspiring.''

The gala caps a national celebration on the Mall that begins New Year's Eve with the unveiling of the national time capsule and runs through the holiday weekend. All the events are free.

The celebration, with a budget of $12.5 million, will be financed through private donations from individuals and corporations. It is expected to draw about 100,000 people.

The mayor assured that Y2K computer glitches will not affect the celebration. The subway will work, the lights will work, Williams said. ``Our systems are going to work, both in the public and private sector.''

Besides Smith, performers lined up for the gala include singer Aretha Franklin, former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and blues guitarist B.B. King.

The stars will perform along with a 100-piece orchestra and all of the U.S. military bands, choirs and marching units.

Other events include:

-''Millennium on the Mall: Traditions and Tomorrows,'' an exhibit by the Smithsonian Institution featuring family-oriented performances, lectures and demonstrations examining music, art, literature, sports, science and technology of the 20th century.

-''Main Street Millennium,'' a block party along Constitution Avenue featuring food from local restaurants and performances by local entertainers.

-''Millennium Around the World,'' a worldwide broadcast feed at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center showing celebrations and events in other countries. Mrs. Clinton said U.S. residents from other countries can gather there to welcome the new millennium as it arrives in their respective homelands.


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), September 28, 1999.


"Stevens declined to specify what would happen at the precise moment the century turns. ``That is something that will reveal itself at midnight,'' he said. ``It will be in the sky, and it will be inspiring.''"


-- h (h@h.h), September 28, 1999.

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