If Americans follow the script, most people will be home on the evening of the millennium rather than carousing in bars and on the streets. They will be watching television, which has gone all out to produce the biggest shows in history to welcome the year 2000.

The problem for the stay-at-homes, as I see it, is who will control the television remote control. The person who holds the clicker in his hand has the power to bring in the New Year all around the world.

It is a responsibility so great that only the best and brightest will be permitted to put their finger on the channel button.

I predict that this could happen in a typical American household:

Tucker Gibson grabs the clicker before his wife can touch it. He tells her, "Tonight is too important to let an amateur surf."

This doesn't go over very well with Edith. "Tucker," she says, "you had the remote for the entire decade. I want to bring in the year 2000."

"It's too risky. I am the only one in the family who knows how to select a channel with my eyes shut."

"Change to ABC. I understand Peter Jennings is on for 24 hours."

"If that is true we can always get to ABC later. Let's see what NBC is doing."

Young Reg Gibson says, "Switch to MTV. I'm sure they have a better show."

Tucker replies, "Do you mind if I do the clicking?"

Edith complains, "You just went by CNN. I think we should at least see what the people in Baghdad are doing."

Tucker says, "If we watch CNN, then we also have to watch Geraldo Rivera on MSNBC."

Young Reg says, "What station is carrying 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'?"

"They're not showing it on New Year's Eve."

"Why not?"

"For the same reason they're not showing Guy Lombardo. Everyone be quiet. I'm going to surf to Mike Wallace."

"Why Wallace?"

"He'll tell us who the crooks will be in the New Year."

Edith asks, "Couldn't I click once for good luck?"

Tucker answers, "You can if you promise to give it right back to me."

Edith takes the remote and the screen goes blank.

"What happened?"

Young Reg says, "I think it's the Y2K bug."

"Give it to me," Tucker demands. "It's almost midnight."

Reg does the countdown. "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one."

Tucker yells, "Bingo!" and pushes the remote button. On the screen he gets the wrestling channel--the only one that is working.

And that is how the Gibsons and many others will bring in the first day of the next 2,000 years.

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate