Ring in the New Year with a television remote in your hand
(Everything2000) Television traditionally has been the refuge of people whose soaring New Year's Eve plans never materialized. However, recent surveys show that this time around, more of us will be staying home than ever. Blame it on a combination of Y2K and related fears, price-gouging galas and rebellion against the high-pressure, party-hearty expectations of 1999.
For viewers who may not have had time to do the advance sorting, the Seattle Times did some sorting for you. Here's what they've highlighted:
ABC will go 24/7, with Peter Jennings hosting the entire non-stop undertaking from 5 a.m. PST Dec. 31 through 5 a.m. PST Jan. 1. "ABC 2000" aims for nothing less than to show us the New Year as it is celebrated at various points around the world, beginning in New Zealand and concluding in Western Samoa. Interspersed with the news will be acts that include Billy Joel, the Kirov Ballet, the Sydney Opera - and Mr. New Year's Eve himself, Dick Clark, who will narrate the Times Square ball drop.
CBS has its own star-studded night in store, getting under way at 7 p.m with "America's Millennium" from 7 to 10 p.m., a variety show hosted by Will Smith and featuring Trisha Yearwood, Celine Dion, Kenny Rogers and President and Mrs. Bill Cinton. AT 10 "Late Show with David Letterman" takes over (including a millennium edition of "Stupid Pet Tricks").
Fox will have a special one-hour show at 10 p.m. Brit Hume and Paula Zahn host "Fox 2000," a mix of news and whoopie from places like London, Moscow, Bethlehem - and most intriguingly, Roswell, N.M..
NBC begins it coverage at 5 a.m. PST Dec. 31. Though this sounds much like ABC's undertaking, it isn't - what NBC will do is cut into regular programming throughout the day with top-of-the-hour updates from correspondents worldwide. Highlights include a three-hour "Today" show from 7 to 10 a.m. and a 6 to 10 p.m. live special that includes New Year's news anchored by Katie Couric and Tom Brokaw, plus an abbreviated version of "Tonight Show with Jay Leno" from Times Square.
PBS steals a march on for-profit network television with 25 continuous hours of coverage from 1:40 a.m. PST Dec. 31 to 3:05 a.m. PST Jan. 1. Co-produced by WGBH-TV, the BBC and 58 host countries, this live undertaking will be hosted by Gwen Ifill, Will Durst, "Sesame Street's" Bob McGrath and Midge Woolsey. The entertainment is PBS-suitable: Kiri Te Kanawa, Enrique Iglesias, Ray Charles, the Gipsy Kings, a premiere of classical composer Tan Dun's new millennium symphony and, of course. . .Sting? Personally, we can't wait for the sun-welcoming ceremony in Macchu Pichu.
CNN: Take that, network TV! Starting at 5:30 a.m. PST on Dec. 31, CNN will present "Millennium 2000," a walloping 100 hours of continuous global news coverage that includes live reports from 60 correspondents, 50 specially-produced programs on issues facing the 21st century and features on examination of cultural phenomena that have shaped the past 1,000 years. This promises to be the most unsullied stream of straight reporting on what's happening elsewhere in the world from the channel that has the resources to do it until the wee hours of Jan. 4 - particularly if a millennium-sparked news story breaks.
Nickelodeon: Perfect for your little upstart, the children's channel presents what may be the most original programming of the cable bunch with "Nickellennium," a 24-hour visual time capsule airing the hopes, dreams and predictions of thousands of children from around the world. The special begins on the stroke of midnight New Year's Eve and will air in 122 countries. Check in and out during the day for what promises to be uplifting, hope-filled commentary from the inheritors of the future.
Independent Film Channel: Champaign and cheese puffs are fine and good, but to really make your artsy-fartsy party complete, tune into the "2000 Seen By. . . " marathon beginning at 8 p.m. The series serves up seven visions of the last days of 1999, all under 90 minutes long. These flicks originally rolled at the Grand Illusion, so you know they're tres fin de siecle.
History Channel: An all-day marathon begins at 4:30 a.m. with a chronological reprise of "The Century: America's Time." At 8 p.m., "New Year 2000: Centuries of Celebration" gives us Deepak Chopra, Dick Clark and fashionista Vivienne Tam among the experts weighing in on the cultural significance of the last day of the year. From 11 to midnight, the series "Lost and Found" examines the Times Square Ball and other symbolic New Year artifacts; at 12 a.m., it's time for a thousand-year look back with Harry Smith.
USA Network: The smackdown of the century awaits on USA Network with "WWF Eve of Destruction," featuring clips of the most memorable body slams and concussions of the century and pinned down by hosts Cold Stone Steve Austin, The Rock, Mankind, The Under