Y2K goes Hollywood
Thirty-nine days and counting …
Hollywood, what took you so long?
Although the television and film industry has skirted the Y2K issue
throughout the year, Hollywood had not tackled millennium madness head-on until Sunday Night, when NBC aired its disaster-laced “Y2K” movie at 9 p.m.
Planes fell from the sky. Buildings exploded. The Eastern Seaboard suffered a major power outage. In other words, it was a survivalist’s dream – the only thing seemingly missing was cameo appearances by Shelly Winters and George Kennedy.
Another prominent feature of the TV movie was a large disclaimer at the
beginning and end, reminding viewers that the whole thing was a work of fiction.
Industry professionals who have been working to head off the Y2K Bug were worried that, despite their best efforts and much evidence to the contrary, the public might take Sunday’s Y2K movie and run with it. Could NBC’s sensationalist portrayal cause panic in the streets?
Before you scoff, remember that Orson Welles did much the same thing on radio in 1941, with his “War of the Worlds” broadcast. Despite repeated disclaimers, some actually believed that the Martians were invading, and there were isolated incidents of panic.
But it seems that the NBC movie did little to move the masses on Monday morning. Perhaps Y2K is hype-proof by this point … or maybe Ken Olin isn’t much of an actor.
Rob Halvorsen, president of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, said that
while many have called Hollywood irresponsible for giving the real-life issue of Y2K fictional twists prompting hysteria, the exaggeration may be helping to dispel consumers’ Y2K fears.
“People have seen striking images of calamity time and again-such as in
movies like “Armageddon”-and have come to expect this kind of hype from TV and movies,” Halvorsen said. “So that alone will temper their reaction considerably. The more Hollywood depicts Y2K, the more we hope people will associate the doomsday aspect for what it is-fiction.”
Many Y2K professionals were relieved when a Y2K motion picture starring Chris O’Donnell was shelved.
NBC’s film focused on a Y2K trouble-shooter trying to save the world from disaster on New Year’s Eve. Nick Cromwell, played by Ken Olin (L.A. Doctors) is a complex-systems-failure expert who is working on an important government Y2K project to insure that the country is Y2K compliant. Cromwell urges his boss to ground all planes before midnight.
It’s not just Y2K disaster movies that could spark some hype. Nike is
currently running a commercial that shows a jogger staying dedicated to his daily jogging routine, despite exploding fire hydrants, traffic jams, malfunctioning ATMs and zoo animals roaming the street-all happening, of course, because of Y2K.
Then, of course there are motion pictures such as the upcoming “End of Days,” in which Arnold Schawarzenneger battles Satan himself on New Year’s Eve.
And NBC’s “Y2K” was on opposite Fox’s “X-Files,” in which Mulder and Scully battle a flesh-eating fiend.
Come to think of it, that sounds a little more realistic that Ken Olin’s saving the world.
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