BBC millennial bash: virgins, priests, ice

Program to offer something from everywhere

LONDON — How’s this for a riveting climax to a marathon of millennium TV? Live coverage from Easter Island of seven virgins entering a cave with a single naked man and later emerging “married.” The interim logistics evidently still are being worked out.

This is but one of many initiatives unveiled by reps from 60 international broadcasters assembled in London to organize the BBC’s year-end, 28-hour TV extravaganza, “2000 Today.”

The epic broadcast will kick off at 9:30 a.m. GMT Dec. 31 on the usually uninhabited Pacific island of Kiribati. The Beeb’s world affairs editor, John Simpson, will be on hand to report.

Over the course of the program, there will be addresses from the Pope, U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, South African leader Nelson Mandela and probably the Dalai Lama, but much of what will be offered is simply fun.

Icy propositions

The Swedes have come up with three cool ideas: a wedding in a church made of ice, a concert on musical instruments made of ice and a gigantic bottle of champagne that will emerge from the sea.

Both Israel and Egypt are offering music: a classical concert from the Dead Sea and Jean Michel Jarre performing at the pyramids. Argentina’s offering is also melodious: children’s choirs singing on top of a glacier and in the depths of the rain forest.

Meanwhile, Russia’s celebrations, centered in Moscow’s Red Square, will include the Bolshoi ballet.

From Panama, expect a ceremonial U.S. handover of the canal. And Samoa, which will be one of the last places to greet 2000, is planning a religious service on a beach, Christ’s blood symbolized by coconut milk instead of wine.

U.K. activities will be dominated by events at London’s Millennium Dome. There, 10,000 people — 5,000 of them drawn from the elite of British society — will see in the new year.

The BBC is partnered with PBS station WGBH Boston for the project. Contributing broadcasters include ABC in the U.S., China’s CCTV, RTL in Germany and Brazil’s TV Globo. The show will be coordinated by producers and editors based in Sydney, London and Washington.

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