| Out there toasting to the new millennium on New Year's? Well, so was the media, and boy, did they lay it on thick. Never mind that technically, the 20th century ends next year (there was no year 0, folks---do the math). Never mind that the so-called Y2K bug was blown way out of proportion by the media starting this time last year, so they'd have a consistent news story once Zippergate dried up. Never mind the millions of non-Christians who don't use the Gregorian calendar. The media will not be denied!
So, here's what you missed on Y2KTV:
On NBC, there was a special Dateline covering "the kitchen of the future." Then the millennium coverage kicked in with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric in New York, and the especially lame Jodi Applegate from London. On MTV 2 Large, the annoying Kathy Griffin co-hosted with the interchangeable VJs. And since it's against the law for the Backstreet Boys not to be on prime time television at least once a day, MTV kept us all out of jail.
CBS served up a prime-time Letterman show, a lame-ass Grammy retrospective, and finally, "America's Millennium," hosted by Will Smith on the White House lawn, and featuring the resurrections of Don "American Pie" McLean, Kris Kristofferson, and John Fogerty. The most cringe-inducing moment was the overwrought short film by Steven Spielberg interspersed with readings from Maya Angelou and President Clinton.
The clear winner for Y2K hysteria was ABC. Peter Jennings signed on at 4:50 a.m. and trudged through the day with the help of his satellites---Barbara Walters got the cushy Paris coverage, and Cokie Roberts got Rome (where she cordially pointed out that this was all about Jesus), and Sam "Spock" Donaldson got Washington, D.C.
Jennings covered midnights all over the world, including places that don't use the Gregorian calendar, but whose tourism offices were smart enough to cash in on the American way of imposing its beliefs on everyone. The folks in Giza, Egypt, the site of the pyramids, had to be laughing their asses off. "Aw, 2000 years, isn't that's cute. We've had civilization for 7 millennia, you losers. But here's some fireworks for ya!"
But you gotta love Dick Clark. Here's Jennings, on for 24 hours, doing card tricks with some magician, and Clark strolls in at 11:30-ish, vamps a little, and he's done. New Year's is, and always has been, Clark's baby.