For those about to rock, Larry Magid yawns at you.

Yes, all 1 million of you. (Or, according to the most conservative advance guesstimates: All 250,000 of you.)

Magid is presiding over Saturday's free, no-tickets-required Live 8 show here -- a pop festival that begins at noon and, by the time it's all over six hours later, just might crowd-surf into the record books as the largest single-day concert ever staged in North America.

And yet, with just a handful of days remaining before the mile-long boulevard known as the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is transformed into a sweaty sea of Bon Jovi-cheering, Linkin Park-moshing, Beyonce-ogling humanity, Magid appears absolutely serene. Indifferent, even.

We came to the production trailer parked outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art expecting chaos -- the deadlines! the anxiety! the pressure! -- and all we got was this lousy sense of a man in complete control, unimpressed by the scope of his own undertaking.

"We've staged large, live events since 1969," Magid, 62, says in a matter-of-fact monotone that suggests Ben Stein. "We've done it before."

Magid's office in the air-conditioned trailer consists of two eight-foot tables, a pair of telephones that ring just once over the course of an hour, a few plastic folding chairs, a throw rug . . . and not much else.

No site maps or emergency contact lists or city contracts strewn about (there was, in fact, no signed contract until Wednesday -- a not quite minor detail that didn't seem to concern Magid in the least).

No high-strung production assistants popping in every few seconds with pressing questions.

No signs whatsoever that this is the nerve center for the biggest domestic pop-music happening since the great Woodstock debacle of 1999.

Outside, there's scattered evidence: An army of Verizon technicians installing 300 temporary phone lines; a small village of tents and trailers that has mushroomed in recent days like so much suburban sprawl; several dozen union workers in shorts and hard hats erecting a 60-by-120-foot stage.

In here, though, it's just Magid suppressing a yawn.

Talent? Security? Traffic? Crowd control? Construction? Rush-ordering 400 Port-a-Potties?


Apparently, organizing a humanitarian hoedown for as many as a million people on little more than a month's notice is easier -- or, at least, much less stressful -- than we thought.

It might help that Magid is Philadelphia's preeminent concert promoter and producer, a showbiz titan who knows from enormous events.

Twenty years ago, he collaborated with the legendary West Coast promoter Bill Graham on the original U.S. Live Aid, a wildly successful famine-relief benefit staged at this city's since-demolished JFK Stadium.

And even before Sir Bob Geldof arm-twisted him into producing the stateside installment of the globally televised Live Aid sequel -- before Jay-Z and Dave Matthews and Stevie Wonder and their multi-platinum pals signed on to nudge African poverty issues into the international spotlight from alongside the Schuylkill River here -- Magid already had mondo plans for this weekend.

Independence Day is a Very Big Deal in this city, which has a bit of a history with the holiday, and Magid's free Fourth of July concert on the parkway has long been the top draw in town.

That's unlikely to change this year, when Elton John, Bryan Adams, Peter Nero and the Philly Pops perform two days after Live 8 in Philadelphia's most ambitious Fourth of July event since 2001, the year Magid and Norman Lear gathered a marquee-load of Hollywood types to read from an original copy of the Declaration of Independence.

City officials estimated attendance during the dramatic reading at north of 1 million, though it's clear that hyperbole entered into the equation: A Philadelphia Inquirer space analysis published Sunday concluded that "the parkway's capacity is somewhere between 267,000 and 400,000."

With no tickets, no turnstiles and no perimeter fencing, conducting audience counts along the mile-long parkway is weird science, indeed.

And predicting the hordes? Hah!

"The event producers don't know whether they'll have to deal with a hundred thousand people or a million people," says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert trade magazine Pollstar.

(Weekend hotel rooms were still available, a Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau spokeswoman said late Wednesday, as were Amtrak tickets from Washington to 30th Street Station, just across the river. As for parking spaces near the parkway -- good luck, city officials say.)

Asked exactly what numbers he's bracing for on Saturday, when people from throughout the country -- if not the world -- are expected to wedge themselves onto the parkway for six hours of live music and save-the-world messages, Philadelphia's managing director, Pedro Ramos, smirks.

"We expect a pretty healthy crowd," he says.

Like, how healthy?

"Depends on who you ask."

Um, we're asking you.

"You'll hear anything from a few hundred thousand people up to a million throughout the day."

Either way, he adds, "I know we'll be ready."

Apparently, it's the new city slogan: Philadelphia -- We'll Be Ready!

Says Magid: "We've done this before. We know how to do it. We're very confident about the city's abilities and our abilities. We'll be ready and prepared for whatever comes."

At the other end of the parkway, in a City Hall chamber, Mayor John Street says basically the same thing in an interview: "We're very confident that we know how to handle this. We will be ready."

And anyway, Street adds, it's not like Philadelphia is, you know . . . Moscow.

The Russian capital, in fact, was added to the official list of Live 8 cities just this week, bringing the total number of shows around the world to 10.

"They tell me we're way ahead of some of the other cities," Street says, beaming.

The planning began about six weeks ago, Magid says, when Live 8 organizers started zeroing in on Philadelphia as the U.S. host city. This happened after Washington was crossed off the list because the Mall -- by far the most logical venue -- was already booked.

Almost immediately, meetings were called with just about every city department (fire, police, streets, commerce, property, planning, law -- even shelter services), the mayor created a steering committee and, in a rarity, governmental efficiency ensued.

"Nothing like adrenaline to get the job done," says Tom McNally, a spokesman for the city Commerce Department.

Now there are plans in place: Traffic plans, artist-transportation plans, sanitation plans, contingency plans, disaster plans -- though perhaps not budget plans. The city still hasn't discussed in public how much it will spend on overtime and such during Live 8.

Magid says the combined cost to the city and promoters will be about $5 million. Only some of that amount will be offset by sponsorships with the likes of America Online and vending contracts with Pepsi and others, and a television-rights deal with MTV Networks.

On this particular day, though, it's not money that's piqued the interest of the local press but, rather, the city's security and safety plans.

Chiefly, how do you guarantee safety at a high-profile event held in a public space that lacks perimeter fencing and checkpoints?

At a briefing in the Municipal Services building, men and women in uniforms and suits representing various city agencies explain that there will be a "substantial number" of officers deployed in and around the parkway area (how many, they won't say); that the police will search "suspicious" people; that SWAT teams and bomb-disposal squads and chemical experts will be at the ready; and that detection equipment will be employed, the airspace over the parkway will be restricted and so on.

In other words: No security concerns to see here, so move along now.

"We believe we should be prepared -- and we will be prepared," the mayor says back at City Hall. "But we're not obsessing over it."

Neither, of course, is Magid, the poker-faced promoter.

"It's going to be what it's going to be," he says of the event. "But I don't see that we'll have any major issues."

Well, okay, maybe just one.

Showing obvious concern for the first and only time, Magid allows that he worries about getting acts onto the stage on schedule.

Especially, he adds, if any performers forget to set their alarm clocks.

With Philadelphia's City Hall as a backdrop, work continues on the stage for Saturday's concert.

The stage in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art begins to take shape this week for Saturday's Live 8 concert.

Longtime promoter Larry Magid is handling Saturday's Live 8 concert as well as Monday's Fourth of July show, both taking place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.