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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Times Square, Washington Monument Areas Clear Out; Hollywood a Sign of the Times; Divine Miss M, One Hot Ticket

Aired January 1, 2000 - 1:30 a.m. ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Chicago, Illinois, pictures of Chicago, which is now 25, almost 26 minutes into the third millennium. From Chicago, we're going to go back to a city where it seems like it was hours ago that New York joined the new millennium. But actually, it was just an hour and 26 minutes ago. Our own Fred Hickman.

Fred, are you still there?

FRED HICKMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am still standing by, Judy. And you know, that's so correct. I look down here now at Broadway and down towards Times Square, where there was once a sea of people, and now it's pretty much clearing up, and it didn't take long for the people to start to leave. But the people who are coming in now happen to be the guys wearing green and they're carrying the long brooms trying to clear out some of this four tons of confetti.

If we could take a look down here at the intersection of 46th and Broadway, you can see that the police officers now are starting to move down the barricades, and the clean-up crews are working, although the celebration, in essence, is going to continue until 6:00 a.m. until the last time zone crosses over into the new millennium into the year 2000.

But we do have some information to give you from the mayor's office, from the deputy mayor, in fact, who unofficially says that between two million and three million people were in Times Square to bring in the new year, between two and three million people, clearly smashing all records for any previous celebrations here to bring in a new year the 94 years they've been doing it.

Also, some great news from the mayor's office indicating that there were no Y2K glitches to report at this time. All electrical systems, all water systems, everything seems to be working just fine as we move into the year 2000.

So all and all, it's been great, it's been incident free. The people have been wonderful. I've seen police officers embracing different folks, just kind of walking along. We've seen people get engaged and dancing and, you know, mambo lines and the whole bit. So it's been a quite memorable situation here, quite incident free. And, boy, I wish every party were like this. Judy?

WOODRUFF: Well, Fred, you know, you make it look like a lot of fun, and it is a lot of fun, but it's also a lot of work. And I think the fact that New York City has been able to get this far without any troubling incident is in no small part due to the very hard work of a lot of security people, police, and a lot of other folks who were at their desks or doing their jobs. And I think the citizens of New York and the tourists in New York have them to thank. Wouldn't you say?

HICKMAN: Oh, I think that's absolutely true, Judy. Thirty- seven-thousand police officers were on duty this evening, 8,000 in uniform, and that's not including all the people who were out of uniform and working in plain clothes, working in the streets here. Just the security operation was three years in the making, an operation by the -- that went by the code of "archangel." The FBI was working on it, the NYPD was working on it, so all of those people concerned with security.

As far as the citizens of New York, you can't say enough about them. It's hard to say how many of those people actually showed up here at the square. They say that a small percentage of New Yorkers actually make it here, and most of them happen to be tourists. I don't believe that. I think New Yorkers are a little bit tough, and maybe they don't want to admit they came down, but I think plenty of New Yorkers were here in Times Square tonight.

And everybody working in concert, all the business people here in the Times Square area, just pulled off a terrific job, and it was a real pleasure to be here.

WOODRUFF: They sure did, and I, you know, I read about the police -- even the police thought those MREs, meals ready to eat, enough for a 30-day supply. I also read that the city had a elevator SWAT team, a team of people ready to go around to different, I guess, skyscrapers in case the elevators broke down.



HICKMAN: Well, it's like they say, hope for the best and...

WOODRUFF: Exactly.

HICKMAN: ... see what you get.

WOODRUFF: Exactly. And then there was this other guy, this other familiar face on CNN, who has spent this evening and on into the wee hours in Washington, D.C. He's our own beloved Wolf Blitzer.

Wolf, are they still partying?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, this place, the Washington Monument area, the Washington Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial, there are a few people still here, but it's basically emptied out. They got out shortly after 1:00 a.m., about a half an hour or so ago after another round of fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial. But the place was packed earlier. And at the stroke of midnight, there really was a spectacular demonstration of fireworks here in Washington. Let's take a replay of what occurred at midnight about 90 minutes ago.

And, of course, there was an enormous crowd here, probably not as big as Times Square, but for Washington standards, very, very big. They were packed along both sides of the Reflecting Pool. People had come from all over. Crowds much bigger than anticipated. Obviously, people encouraged to go out, (a) by the relatively mild weather; and (b) by the fact that there had been no serious Y2K computer glitches that had been reported in other time zones earlier in the day.

And people did revel here at the Washington Reflecting Pool, like some people got into the Reflecting Pool themselves. They were dancing, they were having a lot of fun. Everything was really, really smooth.

The District police, the park police, all of those involved in managing this very huge operation managed to get through without any serious incidents, and everyone seemed to be very, very happy. And as I said, now it's relatively -- There's only a few people who are left here. It's amazing how tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, Bernie and Judy, can come to an area like this, but within a matter of minutes, they've dispersed, they've gone home, or wherever they were going, but they're certainly not here anymore. Bernie, Judy?

WOODRUFF: Wolf, just one question about President Clinton's remarks. You've covered this man for most of his presidency up until very recently. Any thoughts, observations about what he had to say in the few minutes before midnight?

BLITZER: He was speaking for himself. He thought a lot about the 6 1/2 minutes that he spoke about. The first lady was intimately involved in preparing all of these millennium operations over the past year and a half, and this was not just an overnight wonder what occurred here.

The president is now about to enter his last year in office. He's getting rather nostalgic by all accounts. He wants to now, the first year of this new millennium, this new century, squeeze as much as he possibly can in the remaining one year of his own presidency. He's going to be doing a lot. He's going to be very active. But I think some of that activity, some of the objectives that he wants to achieve in the coming year were reflected in the brief remarks just before midnight here at the Lincoln Memorial.

WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf Blitzer reporting from The Mall in Washington, D.C., where the celebration was big, it was spectacular. And as you see, it's starting to clear out now, but the likes of which Washington won't see for quite some time.

We're going to take a break. We're coming up on 27 minutes before 2:00 Eastern time, but 27 minutes until the Mountain Time Zone, and parts of Canada observe the new millennium. We'll be right back.


(CELEBRATIONS IN AUSTIN, TEXAS) WOODRUFF: As we look at those live pictures of Austin, Texas, which is about 36 minutes into the year 2000, we're going to take you now -- Here's a quiz. It's a city with a population inside the city limits of 3.6 million people, the western part of the United States. It's the movie making capital of the United States. You're right. It's Los Angeles. It's Hollywood and our Kyra Phillips is there.

Hi, Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, I'm pretty impressed with your facts there, Judy.

WOODRUFF: I've got my almanac here. I'm pulling...

PHILLIPS: Are you pulling your facts from the almanac?

WOODRUFF: Yes, you better believe it.

PHILLIPS: Good for you. Well, we've got a lot more history for you. As a matter of fact, Judy, I remember as a teenager, 16-year-old when I just got my license, the girlfriends and I hopped in my mom's Mercury, and of course, headed to Hollywood. We never found this sign, but I did find out a lot of history this past week.


PHILLIPS (voice-over): Oh, yes, Hollywood, in a town where the limelight can be as fleeting as fame. For the better part of a century, the Hollywood sign has served as a monument to a place where make believe is real and image is everything. And like many starlets, she came to tinsel town with another name.

Built in 1923, the Hollywoodland sign went up on Mount Lee as a $21,000 publicity ploy advertising the neighborhood. Studded with 4,000 light bulbs, the sign became quite a city site and a target.

Just ask 73-year-old Don Seltin (ph), who as a teenager, used to take aim at the lights with is BB gun.

DON SELTIN: It was kind of exciting to do something that you probably weren't supposed to do.

PHILLIPS: Don's target was destined for greatness. In 1949, she took on a new look. The "land" was dropped and a star was born.

SELTIN: I'm sure it's on the list of many people that come here from all over the world that they got to see the Hollywood sign.

PHILLIPS: On the road to stardom, respect wasn't easy. In 1976, it was Hollyweed. You can guess who was behind that.

During the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987, it was Olywood. Five years later, Ross's pals had pulled their prank (Perotwood). And there's been others. She's proudly withstood the rips to her reputation, but her greatest enemy has always been time. By 1978, the sign had seen much better days. Hugh Hefner stepped in, raising some $45,000 for the restoration effort. Hollywood hot shots like Gene Autry, Andy Williams and Alice Cooper followed, ponying up $28,000 a piece to sponsor a letter.

Once all the money was raised, so was her new steel frame. Enamel letters were attached to what would become a four-story tall, 480,000-pound solid structure.

Now 76 years after her debut, she's getting made up for those who have stood by her and her biggest performance yet.


PHILLIPS: And you're going to see that performance right here live on CNN. That's the stage set up by the city where Mayor Richard Reardon and Jay Leno are going to be here very shortly. They're going to flip the switch, and you are going to see the most amazing light show ever hit that sign in years. As a matter of fact, since 1984, when it was lit up for the Olympics. But this is going to be much more high tech, much more exciting, and we're going to have it for you. Judy?

WOODRUFF: All right, Kyra Phillips in Los Angeles, in Hollywood to be exact, where they are just about an hour and 20 minutes away from the magical hour.

And now, we're going to go to a state neighboring California, Nevada, Las Vegas, our own Laurin Sydney.

Laurin, what's going on?

LAURIN SYDNEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, we don't have a sign here in Vegas, but boy, do we have a strip. We are having our own party here at the sky, the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel at 35 floors below, one of the hottest tickets in town is the Divine Miss Midler's Millennium New Year's Eve concert.

Concert goers now inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel below us celebrating with her. I caught up with the diva Las Vegas last night, as she rehearsed for tonight's big gig.


SYDNEY: Bette, at CNN, of course, we do not believe in rumors. We've come to you for the truth.

BETTE MIDLER, ENTERTAINER: Oh, I have no truth. I have nothing to offer. I'm terrified. But it's OK. I'm going forward. I had a great life. I hope everybody that's listening had a good one, too. Goodbye.

SYDNEY: Hello, hello. Because the rumors that are going around about you is that come the millennium...

MIDLER: About me? Oh, rumors about me? Oh, I see. SYDNEY: But they're clean ones. Come the millennium, Bette Midler will no longer do a raunchy show. True or false?

MIDLER: That's very true. That is absolutely true. That's absolutely true. I'm changing. I'm changing. I'm just going to sing ballads, and I'm going to only work with one piano player. And maybe I'll open up a club of my own. That's what I'm thinking.

SYDNEY: But that's the future, this...

MIDLER: A club with children.

SYDNEY: That's then, this is now. So how raunchy are you going to get?

MIDLER: A lot of it's going to be pretty silly. I'm not so sure it's going to be so raunchy, but it's going to be a lot of fun. We have all sorts of things planned for this event. We have -- We have stuff. We have lots and lots of stuff and lots of really silly jokes. And I think the crowd's going to be great. I think they're going to be sloshed, and I think they're going to be out for a really good time. And I'm really looking forward to it. This is a beautiful arena, the Mandalay Bay arena. Just a beautiful arena. And the sound is going to be fantastic, and it's -- I'm just going to have a ball. I'm looking forward to it. We've been on the road for three months, we've been preparing for this night, so we're, like, we're keyed, read to go.

SYDNEY: With all the fun that's going around, we know that there is fear that is gripping some people in this nation. What are your feelings about it?

MIDLER: Oh, I think they should be very frightened, but not in this arena, because they're going to have fun here. You know, I don't know. I really don't know. I think a lot of it is hype. I think a lot of it is -- a lot of it is the media, you know. I mean, they're -- I don't think people are out there spreading these rumors by themselves; they've had a lot of help in the press, and I don't think -- I think a lot of retailers are really mad, and I know that people here in Las Vegas are really mad, too. And I think it's going to be -- it's going to be just like every other New Years. It's going to be a great time for people who know how to have a good time, and I don't think anything's going to happen. I really don't.

SYDNEY: Everyone will be safe and sound to see your next two movies.

MIDLER: Who cares? They don't come anyway. My friend is freaking out. No, everyone should be safe and sound because human beings have so much potential for such good things. And I think this new millennium, I hope they'll -- I just hope some people will wake up, you know, on January 1st and say, "I will be -- I am going to be different. I'm going to look at humanity in a different way. I'm going to try my best. I'm going to do my part, even if it's a tiny piece. I'm going to do my part." And that's really what I'm hoping for. And I think a lot of people are taking it quite seriously in a spiritual way, because it's a chance for people to assess what they have done, what they have become, and what they can do. And I think in my own demented little way, I believe that that's what's going to happen.

SYDNEY: And, Bette, you've done more than your part, and thank you for that.

MIDLER: Why, thank you, thank you.


SYDNEY: I also asked Bette what song she was going to perform at midnight, and the Divine Ms. M declined comment. But a little later in the new century, we will all hear Midler's millennia moment as CNN brings you her performance from the stage to your home.

Now it's time to go back to Bernie and Judy's home in Atlanta, and I'm running out of offerings here. I do have this, as annoying as it might be. What do you think? Should I send it?

WOODRUFF: Go ahead, do it. Let it go.

SYDNEY: OK, all right. Live a little.

WOODRUFF: All right, it's just the sound people who said don't do it. Laurin Sydney, thank you. No, we'll let you try anything. You'll never run out of offerings, and I just -- I have to say, Bette Midler, what a remarkable performer and what modesty from her with thoughtfulness.

We're going to take a break. Much more coming up.



BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: I wonder what's happening in Granbury, Texas, where Candy Crowley has been all through the night.

Candy, what does it look like?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bernie, it looks pretty empty. I tell you, they got out of Dodge, in this case, Granbury Square, pretty quickly after the bell tolled midnight. When you get right down to it, Bernie, Granbury celebrated this new millennium much like Rome did, much like Paris did, much like New York and Washington did. It was just smaller. There was a parade to kick things off. There was the countdown at midnight. And then, of course, there were the fireworks, lots of enthusiasm as there was all over the world. Not a glitch that we could see. Haven't checked with their ATM machines or any of their computers, but so far, we haven't heard anyone complaining about not being able to get to their money.

They had country western music. They had blues music. They had gospel music, and they had families. That's what they said they wanted this to be about, that this was a small town, and that they wanted it to be a family affair.

The question we got most often was: Why Granbury? Well, the fact of the matter is small town America is where everyone in some way or another has their roots, and we knew that there should be a small town celebration. Granbury was having one and so we came. And they accepted that explanation, and they threw quite a little party here. I'd say 2,000 to 3,000 people. Started off around 5:00 and really hit its peak at midnight, when their country western singer helped them count down. They watched the fireworks. They had one more round of songs, a little "Auld Lang Syne," and then they all went home.

So we promised we'd be back in the next millennium. I don't know if it'll be me, but I just wanted CNN to know that we have made that commitment for the next millennium celebration.

Bernie, Happy New Year to you and Judy.

SHAW: Thank you. And to you. I'm curious. How did they come by having the world's largest mini golf course?

CROWLEY: You know, Bernie, you read up on your material. You know, everybody's got to have something. They have the world's largest mini golf course. We didn't get a chance to do a round. We basically -- What they are proudest of here is the restoration of this square, which dates back to the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. We did see the golf course as we came into town. Maybe on our way out, we'll go around and I'll let you know how it is.

SHAW: Candy Crowley, Granbury, Texas, thanks very much.

When we come back, the toddling town of Chicago, the Windy City. Jeff Flock, he's there to bring us up to date on what's happening in the Middle West.



SHAW: The song, "Chicago," has a lyric. One of the lines goes, "You will have the time, the time of your life. I saw a man who danced with his wife." Is that so at this hour, Jeff Flock, where you are?

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie Shaw, I'm so glad that you said that because tonight, I did get to dance with my wife. She is here, and we did it right at midnight, too.

We are, as you can see, perhaps now right in the middle of a Conga line here in Chicago. This is an extraordinary night, because the people that you see perhaps now dancing around me on this floor at the International Millennium Dance Party, these people are from 205 countries this world.


FLOCK: And it's really, it's amazing how well all of these people have mixed with the native Chicagoans to really turn this into quite a special night. Many of these people, as you can see, are in native dress that they have come here with, some of it not particularly suitable for the Chicago winter. But everyone who has come here tonight, I think, has said what a great way to spend the beginning of this new millennium, if in fact, you look at it that way, with all of the people of the world. And as we said earlier, maybe we wasted some money...


FLOCK: ... trying to unite the world electronically. We did it in the flesh here. It was great both ways. A very special night in Chicago. I'm not sure when it's going to end, because, of course, these people are all on different time zones, although I guess it's fair to say that for all of them in their home countries, they have already seen the new millennium. Special night in Chicago, Bernie. Back to you.

SHAW: Jeff Flock has covered tornadoes for CNN. He's covered hurricanes. He's covered wars. Nice to see him covering fun.

WOODRUFF: It is. And I'm also glad that he and his wife had a chance to have a little spin around the dance floor.

Bernie, one little tidbit I wanted to get in at some point tonight. There was a survey done by a man named Howard Reuben (ph), who heads the computer science department at Hunter College. He surveyed 830-some-odd companies in the United State and found that there were 3.2 million at least extra employees who were going to be working tonight. So you and I and all of our colleagues at CNN are not the only ones. There are probably a lot of you who are sitting in your offices or your places of work keeping an eye on computer screens and answering the phones, and goodness knows what else. So to all of you, Happy New Year, too.

SHAW: And during the Y2K rollover as it moves out of Midwest and goes to the Southwest and the Pacific area, we can tell you that so far, generally, certainly with our computers here and around the world in our CNN network and American business, and certainly United States aviation, and the Pentagon says the U.S. military has not been affected so far by the rollover. It's good to be able to report that to you.

WOODRUFF: And that's what some of these people are doing. They are checking to make sure computers are working. They're making sure elevators are working, and all those things that we all count on and we so often take for granted.

SHAW: We'll be right back with much, much more on Millennium 2000 coverage.


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