So here we are, less than two weeks from the most important New Year's Eve of the century. Yeah, yeah, yeah--we've already heard it a thousand times by now: After a year of hype about once-in-a-lifetime experiences and transcendental moments of global spiritual renewal, turns out everybody is nesting with family and friends. The real catch phrase this year is: Dare to Be Dull.
But even the rich and famous? The people who have the connections and the bucks to jet to New Zealand or the Pyramids? Or hang with Barbra--like buttah--in Vegas?
Inquiring, gossipy minds wanted to know, if only to live vicariously through their fabulousness. So here's a peek at what some famous names in the Washington area have planned for the big MM. Not necessarily the stuff dreams are made of, but a night to remember (hold the iceberg):
Jim Johnson, chairman of the Kennedy Center: "More and more people we talked to said they started out with the notion of doing something exotic, foreign, large-scale," says Johnson. "But what we're finding is that more and more of our friends have decided that friends and family, at home, small-scale, is what they really want. I think what the millennium is causing people to strive for is a sense of who they really are, a sense of the authentic. There's nothing more basic and real than family and close friends." Johnson, wife Maxine and 13-year-old son will be at the Kennedy Center's celebration until 10 p.m., then ring in the new year at home.
Jonathan Ledecky, co-owner of the Washington Capitals: "I'm going to be at the White House--I made that decision just 10 days ago," says Ledecky. "The thing is, no one has really made New Year's Eve plans. Everybody's looking at everybody else and saying, 'So, what are you doing?' "
Cora Barry, wife of former Washington mayor Marion Barry: "I'm so confused about it. You feel like you ought to be doing something more than you usually do, so we're torn between ringing in the New Year in Haiti or South Africa with friends . . . and just staying with our kids and going to church like we always do."
Ken Duberstein, Ronald Reagan's former White House chief of staff: "Probably staying home at this juncture. I considered travel. I considered going to the Kennedy Center. As an old New Yorker, I even gave a thought to Times Square. But the answer is family."
Christopher Hitchens, British journalist: "Normally, it's the only night of the year I'm in bed by midnight," but this year contrarian Hitchens, wife Carol and their 6-year-old daughter will celebrate the anniversary of the Cuban revolution in Havana. "If you've seen 'Godfather II,' you may remember that all the mobsters gather in Cuba to carve up the island; on New Year's Eve, they have a big party, in the course of which a huge cake in the shape of the island is brought in to celebrate their deal." The mobsters hear noise in the streets and mistake it for New Year's fireworks, but it was Castro's revolutionaries. This New Year's Eve, "there will be a big street party, then I'll go with a very big hangover to hear Castro give an eight-hour speech on January 1 in Revolution Square."
Karen Campbell, public relations officer for the Prince George's County Council: She has wrangled with options for almost a year, but she'll probably end up at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Anacostia with her 13-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. "I take the dawn of a new century very seriously. I'm just thankful to see and experience it. It's a good time to sit and ask, 'What is my purpose?' "
Gary Brown, president of the Bare Buns Family Nudist Club: "We are having a potluck dinner at a member's home in Woodbridge." About 30 people will celebrate with champagne in a souvenir glass, board games, movies, television--all in the buff. "Our club has never done a New Year's Eve party before, but we thought we should do something special. Since this is the last year of the millennium, we're calling the party 'The Beginning of the End.' " Bottoms up, gang.
Rep. Jack Tanner (D.-Tenn.): "I plan to stay out of the line of fire," watching TV at home in Union City, Tenn. "I probably will not see the [start of the] millennium. If I make it to midnight, I'll be watching a bowl game. How boring is that?"
Vernon Jordan, lawyer: "Whatever my wife tells me to do," says Jordan, a dear friend of the Clintons who, in fact, will spend the evening at the White House.
Lakhinder Jit Singh Vohra, founder of Virginia-based PartyDigest.com: "I'll be sipping champagne at the Taj Mahal in India, where I'm from, with 500 members of my family. I go to parties every night of the week. This is one New Year's Eve when I would not want to be in a room full of strangers."
Ted Leonsis, co-owner of the Capitals: "I don't want to do anything with anybody except my family." He's spending the evening with his wife, Lynn, his kids, parents and in-laws at his house in Vero Beach, Fla. At midnight, they'll shoot off fireworks. "I decided a year ago, 'All this is going to be crazed. Let's not get caught up in the hype.' "
Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America: "I know this--I don't want to be in the air. And I say this as an ex-pilot."
Willee Lewis, arts fund-raiser: "I decided not to go to Renaissance Weekend this year because flying would be very tough." Instead, she and her husband, Finlay, are making the rounds here in town: cocktails at lawyer Boyden Gray's, a small dinner party, dancing at the Metropolitan Club, maybe a quick stop on the Mall, and breakfast and dancing until dawn at a neighborhood party in Cleveland Park.
Debbie Dingell, executive director of the General Motors Foundation: The wife of Michigan Democrat John Dingell is sure of only one thing: "I'm going to avoid the Mall at all costs. I'm one of those Y2K cautionaries. I'd rather be snug at home."
Doug McKelway, anchor/reporter at Channel 4: McKelway will be part of the Y2K-Disaster-Just-in-Case media blanket. "It's going to be all hands on deck--live shots at the power station, the airport, the train station. It will sort of be like the blizzard of '96 without the snow. I may be wrong; there may be one PC on someone's desk that starts the domino effect."
Mark Dessauer, researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies: He, wife Betsy and four friends have rented an old farmhouse on 40 acres near Berkeley Springs, W.Va. "We said, 'Let's get a cabin, hide out in West Virginia, and if the world disappears, we won't know." On New Year's Eve, they'll cook dinner, drink champagne, shoot off firecrackers and play board games.
Bill Gray, former congressman and president of the United Negro College Fund: He'll be at Bright Hope Baptist Church in North Philadelphia, where he has been minister for 27 years. "Every New Year's Eve, you can find me in that church on my knees saying, 'Thank you.' Always say thank you--you might get another year."
Louis Freeh, FBI director: He'll spend the night with wife Marilyn and their six sons--ages 15 years to 21 months--"unless I have to go to work." There were never any plans to drag six children to the Mall--or anywhere else. "We're safer at home," says Freeh, laughing.
Alice McDermott, author: "We're doing what most people are doing--staying home. We're very trendy this year. We have a family tradition: a picnic on the floor of the family room with a few kid-chosen videos and a fire. Then we all camp out in sleeping bags in sight of the Christmas tree."
Joe Robert, developer: "I'm going to be on a boat in St. Barts" with family. "No Y2K problems down there. They don't have computers."
Andrea Mitchell, correspondent for NBC-TV: Mitchell is counting on a romantic, glitch-free Y2K evening. "Hopefully, I'll be with my husband"--Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan--"which means I hope everything is calm and he doesn't have to do anything."
William Cohen, secretary of defense: He and wife Janet Langhart will have "dinner at the home of close friends" in Washington.
Arthur Noll, a k a "Artie Swell," bass player for Vanity Champ: The local gutter-pop band is booked for the Velvet Lounge on U Street, which is great because none of the twenty-something band members had big plans for the night. "I was thinking it would be quiet with friends," Noll says. "I reserved a lawn chair on a friend's porch about two years ago. I haven't bestowed it on anyone else yet, but I guess I'll have to."
Norm Ornstein, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute: "For the last seven years, we've done the Renaissance Weekend," but this year the family will visit his sister and her family in Miami. "We decided to go over to South Beach. Actually, we'll probably let the kids go out and have them call every hour while we watch television."
Antonio de Oyarzabal, Spanish ambassador to the United States: He and his American-born wife, Beatrice, may stay in the city or accept an invitation to the Eastern Shore. "I think one should be contemplating the event of the turn of the millennium: looking back and looking forward." Oyarzabal feels it's fitting to mark the occasion in the United States: "This has been the American century. This is the place to be."
Leon Fuerth, security adviser to Vice President Al Gore: "Home. That's the place to be. We decided we could hook up with friends who can cook authentic Italian."
Christopher Meyer, British ambassador to the United States: The Meyers will be in Washington--current options include a party at friends' and possibly the White House. The decisive factor will be Meyer's visiting son: "We will also be doing something to ensure intense amusement and pleasure for my 15-year-old son," says Meyer--who, like most parents of teenagers, could not precisely predict what that would be.
Bob Barnett, lawyer at Williams & Connolly: He'll be at Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn's now-legendary annual New Year's Eve party. "I resolved not to travel and to be with my family--not necessarily in that order."
Cokie Roberts, newscaster for ABC News: "We're going to Rome." Her clan will join her mother, Lindy Boggs, who happens to be ambassador to the Vatican. Roberts will broadcast from the Eternal City on New Year's Eve; her husband has to choose between a quiet dinner with the rest of the family, or hanging around for a midnight kiss between takes. "I think he should go to dinner," she says. "It's midnight somewhere all night long."
Beth Dozoretz, National Democratic Committee fund-raiser: She and husband Ronald are attending the millennium dinner celebration at the White House. "All my friends are going to be in town," says Dozoretz. "Our friends who are going away are coming back home for New Year's Eve. I think there's a reassessment of values. People want a cozy night, which I think is a real nice statement."
Michael Saylor, president of MicroStrategy: "I think right now I'll go to dinner at the White House. The truth is, I have a hard time planning my personal life. I plan business for a year in advance. My personal life? A week ahead, even for the millennium."
J. Carter Brown, chairman of the Fine Arts Commission: "Venice," because Brown's 17-year-old daughter, Elissa, has never been to the beautiful historic city.
Bob Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television: "We're going to be in West Palm Beach at a horse show." Johnson and wife Shiela usually spend the holiday at their home on the island of Anguilla, but the house has been damaged by storms. Johnson's daughter, a championship rider, asked her parents to take her to the competition in Florida.
Washington Mayor Tony Williams: He'll try to squeeze a little fun out of New Year's Eve, but essentially, he's working all night like thousands of other city employees. He'll begin the evening by visiting with police and firefighters assigned to duty, possibly stop by the White House, grab a few quiet moments with his wife Diane, then join the president and first lady on the Mall for the millennium program.
Jim Kimsey, co-founder of America Online: "I have to say I'm going to be at the D.C. millennium celebration," but where he really wants to be is curled up in his house on Mustique. "I'm going to have to fly back, unless I can delegate it."
Mandy Ourisman, car-dealership magnate: "We're going to Jamaica." He has a house on the tropical island and will spend New Year's Eve with wife Mary at the Round Hill resort for dinner and dancing.
Abe Pollin, Wizards owner: "We're actually going to be in New York at the Carlyle Hotel," for dinner and dancing. Pollin's older son announced he was going to be in New York because of his daughter, whose boyfriend said he was going to be there. A domino effect.
James Wolfensohn, World Bank president: He'll be at his home in Jackson Hole, Wyo.--"that's where I go every year." There was some thought to going to Bethlehem--the World Bank is involved in a millennium project for the historic city--"but I thought two million other people could do that."
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.): The senator is an accomplished skier, his son a ski instructor, so Lautenberg will schuss in the New Year in Aspen. "In a way, I felt I ought to do the same thing I've always done."
Gordon Peterson, anchor for Channel 9 television: "I'm working ushering in the millennium, but I volunteered. I just thought it was a good thing to do." His wife, Anne Fleming, will be at the station to grab the midnight kiss.
Barbara Parkerson, owner of Wee Sit baby-sitting service in Burke: Parkerson has 40 people working on New Year's Eve, earning $20 an hour. "The first person called me in February to make sure she was on the list," says Parkerson, whose entire family is on call to baby-sit should there be any last-minute snafus.
Frank Mankiewicz, Democratic consultant: Mankiewicz will spend the evening with his family--beyond that, he doesn't care: "First, it doesn't matter to me because I'm not milepost-conscious. Second, it doesn't matter because I don't think it's the millennium. I think it's a year away."
CAPTION: Arthur Noll, alias "Artie Swell," has a gig at the Velvet Lounge on U Street.
CAPTION: Prince George's County PR rep Karen Campbell is spending New Year's Eve in church with her son and daughter.