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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Alaskans Greet New Millennium; Celebration Continues in Las Vegas; L.A. Y2K Command Center Reports No Problems

Aired January 1, 2000 - 4:00 a.m. ET


JUANITA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And it's just two minutes to midnight in the nation's 49th and largest state. The patient people of Alaska finally get their turn to cheer after watching a party for the ages around the world.

BRIAN NELSON, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has spent nearly 24 hours covering the millennium's arrival and we will look back even as we move ahead.

PHILLIPS: Anchorage is already celebrating with the fireworks just about to start.

NELSON: And Fairbanks is doing the same. They've even partied a little on Diamede Island (ph), once a cold war outpost. CNN's extensive coverage of Millennium 2000 continues right now.

PHILLIPS: Well, we've been on an incredible journey these past 24 hours around the world. It's not quite over yet. Time now to take a look at the last major city in North America to welcome in the new year. Anchorage, Alaska canceled some of its planned celebrations because it's too cold and foggy there.

NELSON: With temperatures is at minus eight degrees many Alaskans decided to stay home rather than attend the planned fireworks display.

PHILLIPS: Now we're looking at some live pictures coming in now from Anchorage, Alaska, people there counting down to midnight. It's just 10 seconds to go. And we're seeing starting, the fireworks have just started. We did hear that they might have been delayed for a while. But it seems like at least some of the fireworks did start to go off then. Let's listen in. That drumming is apparently the traditional way of welcoming in the new year.

NELSON: They're partying heavily in Anchorage, Alaska right now. The temperature, as we said, is about minus eight degrees but with a 15 mile an hour wind chill it brings it down to about minus 40 degrees. And so it might be fair to say that some of those people were jumping around just to keep warm.

PHILLIPS: I think they were. I think they had their winter woolies on there. It's the 49th state of the USA, one of the last places on the planet to welcome in the new millennium. We still have a couple of hours left to go. As I said, the last 24 hours we've been on a journey right across the planet, as the various peoples and nations of the world welcome in the new millennium.

NELSON: Also, let's now go take you to Los Angeles, where Kyra Phillips is standing by in the aftermath of the Millennium 2000 celebrations in that city.

Hello, Kyra. Have you calmed down from your last interview?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. Did you catch that interview with Jay Leno?

NELSON: I certainly did. It was great. Jay Leno.

KYRA PHILLIPS: I said I'm glad, I think we're all panicking out here. We're all wondering if our pink slips are going to come in tomorrow after that one. Oh, baby, I tell you what.

NELSON: Well, you've got the sign lit up behind you. That's a good sign.

KYRA PHILLIPS: That's right. Let me tell you what's going on. You can see the lights actually are still in full force. The mayor's asked to keep them on for a little while longer. It took three weeks, believe it or not, to get all that up there, the 400 lights, 16 experts of a lighting crew with the lasers and the -- it was all computerized, too. It wasn't just a matter of flipping switches. It was all done by computer so it was very high tech.

Now, I understand, it's going to take two weeks to tear it all down so everyone's still going to be working in full force even through the new year.

Now, early on today or early on this evening, rather, Mayor Reardon came out along -- well, here you go. Here's the video of when midnight struck and the sign lit up. Mayor Reardon and Jay Leno came and flipped the switch and set everything off. Now, we didn't have fireworks and the reason why is because there's been a lot of fires in southern California recently. You may recall the coverage all in the past week. And it was very ironic because we had rain today and things cooled down, but that is the reason why we didn't have any fireworks. There was just a light spectacular and this coincided with a whole bunch of celebrations that happened throughout the day, cultural celebrations in all different neighborhoods and all throughout the city and then everything was interlinked via satellite. So there were huge video screens at all of the celebrations so you could enjoy everything.

Well, it looks like, Brian, we're going to take a look at that interview we had with Jay Leno. Here you go.


JAY LENO: You know what I love about CNN, my favorite thing?

KYRA PHILLIPS: What do you love about CNN?

LENO: Whenever there's a hurricane or a disaster, they send out...

KYRA PHILLIPS: We cover it.

LENO: ... their fattest and baldest reporters. Did you ever notice that? When there's like a glamorous story it's always Wolf Blitzer and then when there's like a...

KYRA PHILLIPS: Don't you rip on Wolf.

LENO: No, but then when it's like a...


LENO: Then when it's like some kind of rain storm there's one of those poor guys I never heard of chained to a pole in Miami.


KYRA PHILLIPS: I tell you what, he has no heart. I can just say that right now. And he already admitted that CNN gets much better ratings than his show does, anyway, guys. So I hope you take the rest of the new year in. Have a great time. We had a blast out here. And happy new year from all of us here in Los Angeles.

NELSON: Thank you. You too, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: Yes. Happy new year.

NELSON: By the way, are some of those entertainment shows still underway, Jimmy Buffet and The Eagles? Have they all wrapped up?

KYRA PHILLIPS: That's what, yes, that is all wrapped up. That took place down at the Staples Convention Center and we showed a little bit of The Eagles not too long ago and that's all wrapped up also. So things are calming down here in the city, no big problems to report. Y2K, the city is calm. It's gone very well.

PHILLIPS: And Kyra, it's a big party city. Any big show biz parties still continuing?

KYRA PHILLIPS: Rumor has it down at Paramount Studios they've still got a big shindig going on. I don't know. I'm trying to talk the crew into going down there and checking it out. Otherwise, no. Everything's pretty much settled down.

NELSON: OK, thanks, Kyra. Kyra Phillips in Los Angeles.


NELSON: Now we want to take you to Las Vegas, where our Paul Vercammen is standing by with the aftermath of the celebrations in that city, where people are taking a big bet on the new year.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you what, Brian, Juanita, they may call New York the city that never sleeps, but perhaps they should call Las Vegas the city that never went to bed in the first place. If you look around and behind me, just to make sure that none of the merry makers become mischief makers, on the tops of many of the hotels and high structures, the police department has positioned some spotters and they will try to make sure that nobody gets out of hand.

Now, inside the hotels a lot of huge acts. We talked about Barbra Streisand and Carlos Santana and Bette Midler with her trademark voice ushered in the new year with her own version of new year's merriment.


BETTE MIDLER: Have a wonderful time. Come on everybody, sing it with me. You know how it goes. Thank you so much.

Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind, should old acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne. For auld lang syne my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll drink a cup of kindness yet for auld lang syne.


VERCAMMEN: The divine Miss. M. wishing everyone a very happy new millennium and as you look behind me, as we said before, a lot of concerts here tonight. I should let you know that I'm on the 35th floor with a punched out window. That's why you can see things so clearly. And I'm at the Four Seasons Hotel. Throughout this city people continue to party it up.

An interesting note about Las Vegas, back in the era of Prohibition the old joke was what Prohibition? This is also a city where you will not find too many mini bars in your hotel room because they would prefer that you have your libations down in the casino, and I'm sure many people, of course not us, are having their libations and saluting and drinking their champagne and continuing all the merriment here from Las Vegas.

Back to you now Juanita and Brian.

NELSON: Paul, I've got a question for you. One of the other things notable about Las Vegas is the absence of clocks, especially inside the casinos. So I know you're outside. But have you got any word of what the reaction was in many of the casinos? Did people even know it was midnight?

VERCAMMEN: Well, as we described this earlier, there was almost two parties going on. On the street they did because of the huge monitors that the hotels have behind me counted down to midnight. Now, as far as the clocks in the casinos, no, there were none. Many people did try to place those last moment bets. Also, though, the people who were inside knew what time it was simply because people like Bette Midler broke into "Auld Lang Syne" and other, other standards.

Because you have so many people inside with the concerts at midnight, I think you, indeed, have less people on the street.

PHILLIPS: And, Paul, a lot of people were prepared, it seems, to pay top dollar for tickets to those big performances. I was hearing before that some people were paying something like two and a half thousand dollars for tickets to hear Barbra Streisand, I think Bette Midler about $1,500. Were those concerts sell outs?

VERCAMMEN: I was inside the Barbra Streisand concert for a spell and they tell me that it was sold out at 1,300 people. Midler not exactly positive. I will tell you this, though. Some people who had earlier bought hotel packages, let's say back in May, who found out that some of the room rates had been reduced or package rates were reduced made calls to that hotel and got some of their money rebated back and they were happy for that. They were just glad that they asked, as well.

Juanita, Brian?

NELSON: Paul, one last question, since you were inside the Barbra Streisand concert. There was some rumor that this might be her last concert. Have you heard anything concrete about that?

VERCAMMEN: Well, I actually saw her personal publicist and he made no mention of that. She does have a concert here tomorrow night and whether she decides to perform again remains to be seen. I will tell you, and these are some numbers that are out there, this has been a very, very lucrative concert for Barbra Streisand and certainly she might be encouraged to do it again. While I was in there, she made no mention of a fond farewell or the final concert or anything like that.

NELSON: OK, thanks, Paul. That is Paul Vercammen in Las Vegas, where they celebrated and gambled in the new year.

The celebrations were also in Seattle, but they were a little muted in that city after the officials there canceled party plans over concerns of terrorism. But that didn't stop a spectacular fireworks display from lighting up the night sky around the city's famous Space Needle. However, fences kept crowds from gathering on the grounds surrounding the monument. Officials said they wanted to take no chances after learning the Needle could be a potential target for terrorists.

And fireworks added even more sparkle to the bright lights of the hotels and casinos of Las Vegas, as we said, a city living up to its reputation as a place to see some of the top names in entertainment. Again, as we said, Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Bette Midler among the performers headlining there, tickets for the Streisand concert costing up to $2,500 apiece and we will, well, we've already brought you part of her performance. I think we're going to bring you a little more a little later and it will be free of charge.

In Calgary, Alberta, the Olympic flame atop Calgary Tower lit the way for revelers at Olympic Plaza, those who braved the chilly weather in Calgary to celebrate a parade of lanterns and lights in the downtown part of the town. The now familiar themes of fireworks and partying in the streets were there, as well. PHILLIPS: Well, instead of celebrating, and maybe as well as celebrating, thousands of people around the world were also keeping a close eye on computers this New Year's Eve. And some minor problems are being reported. But officials say it's unclear whether they're related to the Y2K computer bug.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration had said that an automated weather observation system had failed, but now the FAA says those earlier reports were erroneous.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, says a military intelligence communications system stopped working properly but that's being called a "temporary interruption."

And in Japan, officials say a possible Y2K glitch shut down a radiation alarm system at a nuclear power plant but there were no leaks or safety problems. Experts say that the real test for Y2K may be on Monday when banks and businesses resume normal hours.

Well, CNN's Charles Feldman is at the Los Angeles Y2K command center. Charles, any problems being reported at your end?

CHARLES FELDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Juanita, not a thing. Actually, things have worked out very smoothly here and it was very obvious early on in the evening as the millennium was ushered in all across the United States that there were no apparent Y2K problems, no apparent terrorism problems, the two main things that everybody was very concerned about as we went from 1999 to the year 2000.

We're going to show you a picture now of the emergency operations center, which is the room right behind me. It is four floors beneath the city hall complex here in downtown Los Angeles. It has been on its highest level of preparedness for several hours now. That was all planned. These are people representing various departments and city agencies in Los Angeles here to monitor, again, everything from any Y2K glitches to any other unforeseen events that would require fire or police action or some other emergency maneuvers, if you will, by different departments of the city.

But so far everything has been so quiet that it appears as if this high level of preparedness is going to be stepped down considerably in the next couple of hours and so far the year 2000, at least for Los Angeles, is smooth sailing.

Happy new year, both of you.

PHILLIPS: All right, thank you, Charles, that's good news.

NELSON: Thanks, Charles.

PHILLIPS: Charles Feldman there at the Y2K command center in Los Angeles.


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