What about anything for children? At the L.A. Unified School District, representatives tell me there are no plans they're aware of. "We have enough with our regular business; the millennium has not surfaced as any kind of an issue. Try the Office for the President of the Board." Or for students? I get bumped from one department to another at UCLA and USC. The conclusion: no millennium plans at either. Nor at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
So what about the sports arenas? At the Great Western Forum, nothing. We've "gotta take it a year at a time," drawls a staff person. It's the same at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena. The Sports and Entertainment Commission tells me the Department of Cultural Tourism is "researching what other cities are doing," and that together they will team up with the city and "probably put together a task force."
Surely the cultural institutions must be leading the way, using the arts to commemorate or offer an inspired interpretation of such a historically significant date? But at the Ahmanson Theater there are "no specific plans." At the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, there is "nothing at the moment." The Museum of Contemporary Art seems interested. It is currently co-sponsoring, with the L.A. Public Library, a program of readings titled "Racing Toward the Millennium" but beyond that has nothing particular in the pipeline, even though its ambitious "End of the Century" architecture exhibit will open in 1998.
The Getty already has enough on its plate with the 1997 opening of the new Getty Center and the slated completion in 2001 of the remodeled Getty Museum. At the Music Center, L.A. Philharmonic Managing Director Ernest Fleischmann hopes "there isn't a great deal going on," because, he grouches, "the whole thing is so phony." And anyway, "they've got the date wrong." He perks up at the prospect of a completed new concert hall, however. "In 2001, we're going to open the Disney Concert Hall. Why don't we go for the Jan. 1, 2001, deadline and be the only city who does?"
I look away from the mainstream. The venerable Museum of Jurassic Technology, explains a director, tends not only "to steer away from concerns that we feel are covered more than adequately elsewhere," but "we're more interested in 999 to 1000."
Next stop, Hollywood. This is, after all, a company town. Surely it is the duty of the entertainment industry, as L.A.'s largest employer, producer of the world's greatest spectacles, and the most influential and technologically advanced communications nexus on the planet, to show the world who's tops at the start of the third millennium?
Fox makes the TV show "Millennium," so I start there. After struggling through the wilderness that is the Fox voice mail system, I arrive at an oasis of intelligence in the person of a representative of the International Publicity Department. He tells me there was a huge bidding war for the TV show overseas. Aside from that, he doesn't know of anything Fox might be planning, civic or cinematic. We discuss whether movies like Fox's new "Volcano," due out next month and showing all of Los Angeles being devastated by--yes, that's right--a volcano, are expressive of a sense of pre-millennial tension.
Absolutely not, declares another Fox executive, the head of the Studio Publicity Department. "Volcano" is simply "a great story" and shows only "an increased interest in disaster films." He adds, cheerfully, there is "nothing planned, no studio-wide event, nor films." And concludes: "It was not even a topic until you brought it up." Oh.
At Disney, a representative in the film division laughs: "You know, that's four years away." Well, no, not really. And the theme park division doesn't think "we have anything set yet." At Disney Development Corp., there's hope. I am told there are no firm plans yet but that they will be celebrating, and whatever they do "will be in the inimitable Disney fashion." A Warner Bros. staffer is dismissive: "You certainly like to plan in advance; how do I know what we're doing in four years?"
At Universal Studios, a spokesperson is upbeat. Universal will be "looking at the millennium very closely." The company recognizes it as an "exciting and wonderful opportunity to tie in all their businesses--the theme park and entertainment venues, CityWalk, films, music, television, home video and so on--with great opportunities for corporate sponsorship." Paramount has nothing specific in the works.
If the corporate machinery isn't in gear, what about that icon of self-made celebrity, Our Lady of the Los Angeles Billboard, Angelyne? Perhaps she will blitz the city with a millennium special. In fact, she conveys to me via an intermediary, Scott Hennig: "The wonderful 2000 year gods and the 2000 year fairies have scheduled a celebration for me, and I'll find out then." Can we come?