The Dawn of a New Millennium

DAVID WESTIN: What you have in the millennium is the dawning of the sun in twenty-four time periods around the world. So why don't we cover it in twenty-four hours and bring it to the American public as the clock turned to midnight in each time period? This idea would not have worked without Peter at all because Peter is the person who could cover the world.

MARC BURSTEIN: He prepared, and he studied, and he did his research, and he knew he had to learn even more. He knew it was an enormous challenge. There were moments leading up to it when, truth be told, many of us involved in that broadcast thought, "Is this going to be a huge mistake? Or is this going to be the greatest thing we've ever done?"


DAVID WESTIN: About two days before December 31, 1999, I went down to Peter's office. He was alone and he had this big stack of index cards. He was going through them, memorizing essentially every fact about the world for 2,000 years. I remember sitting down and saying, "Peter, relax. You are meant for this. You know this. Whatever happens during this twenty-four hours, there is not one viewer who is going to walk away from this and think, 'Peter Jennings doesn't know things. Peter Jennings isn't smart.'"

BARBARA WALTERS: He would make us do the kind of homework that he did, and I'm pretty compulsive about doing homework. My anchor place was the Eiffel Tower; what could be better? So, I'm thinking about the sparkles and the lights and how many are there going to be in the Eiffel Tower. Then Peter said to me, "Do you know anything about the student revolution in Paris?" So suddenly, the day before I'm on the air, I am cramming everything I could possibly know about the student revolution in Paris. I can't let Peter down; I can't look foolish. You know what? He never asked me one question about the student revolution in Paris. But that was Peter. He wanted to know everything, and he wanted to make sure that we did, too.

ROGER GOODMAN: About a week before the millennium, he said, "Roger, the world is big, and twenty-four hours is a long time. I'm going to use you as a crutch. Every time I get lost, I'm going to say, 'Roger, where are we going?' And I want you to give me thirty or forty seconds so I can figure out what I'm talking about." Over the twenty-four hours, we never left him. Nor did he leave us. It was one of the most incredible feats that I've ever seen in my entire career. He could go from event to event, from city to city around the world, effortlessly, seamlessly. For those 24 hours, Peter downloaded all of his knowledge. We couldn't believe what we were hearing. Any place we went in the world, Peter could tell us about moments and events that were critical to that country's history. At times we couldn't even keep up with him.

BOB IGER: I went down to our studio to say hello to him and there he was in his tuxedo with the throngs behind him, having a gay old time. Totally immersed in it all and the experience. Not just as an anchorman, but as a person of the world.