Downloading Woodstock '99

Members of a generation that once was told never to trust anyone over 30 are among those looking back this week at a couple of big events in their lives that now are turning three decades old.

The landing of Apollo 11 on the moon on July 20, 1969, has become a "where were you when" event for millions of Americans, many of whom sat gaping at their TV sets, amid held hands and prayers, until the voice of Neil Armstrong crackled from the lunar surface with news that "the Eagle has landed." (As for me, I was home from college pushing a night janitor's cart around the headquarters of National Car Rental in Minneapolis, riveted to a transistor radio as Armstrong took his "giant leap for mankind.")

A 30th-anniversary Woodstock festival begins today in Rome, N.Y. Aimed at today's teens and twentysomethings, it will have about as much similarity to its predecessor as spinning a vinyl 45-r.p.m. record does to downloading tunes off the Internet to your Rio player.

The July 23, 24, and 25 music festival also will be broadcast as a pay-per-view cable TV event, as well as offered in real time on the Internet at www.woodstock.com.

The original was branded as "three days of peace and love." The '99 version is being held at the former Griffiss Air Force Base, where B-52 bombers used to be stationed - complete with ATM machines and a food court.

An eclectic group of about 50 acts are expected to perform, including Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Bruce Hornsby, Jewel, Dave Matthews Band, Metallica, Alanis Morissette, Willie Nelson, and the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

Tickets are a mere $150 for the weekend, modest by today's standards. But the crowd is not expected to match the 350,000 who attended a 25th anniversary concert five years ago in Saugerties, N.Y. - or the estimated "half a million strong" who showed up at Max Yasgur's farm in 1969.

TV broadcasters are feeling the heat about the lack of minorities on the new fall TV schedule at the Television Critics Association meetings under way in Pasadena, Calif.

The meeting is intended to promote new shows debuting this fall. The NAACP has called for a boycott of network shows until they reflect more of the racial diversity of America.

Especially embarrassing to the top four networks - ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC: None of their 27 new comedies and dramas has a minority character in a major role, and few of them even have minorities in supporting roles.

Black Entertainment Television (BET) does serve a minority audience, but it is available only on cable. Smaller networks like UPN and WB have been leading the way on minority programming, though WB's new lineup has dropped many of those shows for this fall.

"I think there's a lot of people who want to reach that [minority] audience," UPN network president and chief executive Dean Valentine told AP. "I think it's a mistake to cut them out of the broadcast spectrum."

*Please send your comments on Arts & Leisure to entertainment@csps.com

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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