Y2K – World in Crisis

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Y2K – A World in Crisis
Y2K (Poster).jpg
World In Crisis Poster
Written by Warren Chaney
Directed by Warren Chaney
Starring Hugh O'Brian
Richard Anderson
Dick Van Patten
Richard Roundtree
Deborah Winters
Composer(s) Rob Boyd
Ron Dickson
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
Producer(s) Warren Chaney
Rick Christie
Mike Teilmann
Editor(s) Rick Christie
Cinematography Ian Jones
Running time 60 minutes
Distributor Millennial Entertainment
Budget $9,000,000
First shown in United States
Original release February 14, 1999 (1999-02-14)

Y2K – A World in Crisis is a 1999 documentary television series produced by Studio W and Warren Chaney Productions for network and cable broadcast.[1] The series was written and directed by Warren Chaney and starred Hugh O'Brian, Dick Van Patten, Richard Anderson, Richard Roundtree and Deborah Winters. It was filmed in Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, D.C. and on location in many areas of the United States.[2]

The series was widely broadcast during the 1999 television season and for the first quarter of year 2000. It received favorable reviews for its impact on the millennium bug or Y2K computer software problems occurring at the turn of the 20th century. In keeping with the high tech theme of the programs, the series became one of the first network productions to position its hosts and narrators in digitally created sets.[3]

A popular book based on the series was written by Dr. Warren Chaney, the series' writer and director.[4] The book carried the same title and appeared in two published editions. Each edition reflected the evolving systems changes occurring in computer networks as they were repaired. The book continues to sell in book markets around the world even though the event has long since passed.[5][6][7]

Series summary[edit]

The Y2K – World in Crisis television documentary series described the computer turmoil existing at the close of the 20th century. The inability of computer software systems, and microchips to correctly recognize dates after the Year 2000 became known as Y2K. The television series brought together current Y2K research and analysis to explain problems representing a range of potentially adverse computer systems effects during the rollover from the year 1999 to 2000.[8]

The series director, Dr. Warren Chaney, chose to forgo the use of news anchors to convey information and introduce its technical and governmental guests. Instead, selected actors were cast based upon their narrative skills and perceived credibility. They were then placed in continually changing computer-digitized sets, becoming one of the first series to do this. Consequently, the broadcast programs achieved an unusual augmented reality in keeping with their technological themes winning its production company, Studio W, the first of four Emmy Awards.[9][10][11]

The series leading actors were positioned in digital sets to achieve an ethereal augmented-reality appearance. This was new to the times and the series became one of the first programs to pioneer its use.

In program after program, computer experts from government and industry made regular appearances updating the potential computer turmoil.[12] Appearances on the program ranged from Prudential's Chief Economist Edward Yardeni to former Senator Bob Bennett and former President Bill Clinton. To enhance the high tech nature of the series, the broadcasts always featured their host narrators in digitally created sets (above photo) becoming one of the first series to do so.[13]

Early in 1999, the broadcast provided government and independent research studies reporting on major computer systems, which filed during the early testing.[14] By the end of the first quarter, the national and international implications of computer system failures were made known in the press and the repair work increased. The World in Crisis series continually reiterated that if enough remediation was accomplished, damage would be minimized.

As the alarm spread, industries and government spent increasing sums of money on upgrades and repair.[15] As they did so, the series chronicled the progress that had made. In program after program, additional computer experts offered national and global commentary on the millennial problems and the unfinished work remaining.[16] As the broadcast advanced and progress made, the series focused more on the outcome of heavy industrial Y2K spending within the United States. During one episode, serious questions were raised about the nature of the problem itself. Was it real or not? One of the program's hosts, Richard Anderson, best summed it up when he reported, "When someone says to you, Y2K is not a problem. Inform them that it already is... one trillion dollars - and rising." Anderson was reflecting the enormous costs of repair.[17]

With increasing progress, the programs' focus acknowledged that most millennial computer problems had been resolved. It then turned its attention toward the sizable Y2K repair and upgrade costs that had been incurred.[18] In its final broadcast, the series documented that the nation's high expenditures had led many to believe such high costs would lead to a likely economic recession in 2001.[19] On the upside, the broadcasts consistently illustrated that the United States would benefit financially from the massive upgrade and that any recession would be a short one and that the nation would become extremely competitive as a result. The series prediction of "unseen benefits" and financial forecasts were realized during the succeeding years.[20]

As the 2000 closing programs pointed out, the much predicted meltdown did not happen, not because the problem was unreal but because the nation and many industrialized countries solved most of the pre-existing problems.[21] Program host, Hugh O'Brian closed the series with a commentary that has been increasingly quoted with the passing years.[22] He stated, “Our society has trusted technology to be so seamless - for so long, and on such an uninterrupted basis - that we have given away many of our personal responsibilities to an unsupervised technocracy. Perhaps, just perhaps - its time that we take them back again.”

Y2K issues remained following the close of the television series. The problems and enormous costs received little press but were noted in the books and business literature of the time.[23] As Open Library wrote of both the series and book, "It's clear description and non-exaggerated discussion of the Y2K problem lead many in the media to credit the work as having positively influenced many businesses and organizations to do the computer repair that was need to their computer clocks."[24]


Lawrence E. Donaldson of Biblio.com Reviews wrote, "Y2k- A World in Crisis, written by Warren H. Chaney, Ph.D. is a brilliant historical record of the near hysteria surrounding the turn of the 20th century computer/clock dilemma.”[25] Mack Decabner wrote in Screened, "Warren Chaney produced the most fact-based assessment of the computer scare surrounding the Year 2000 computer changeover. Moreover, the director avoided the temptation to use newscasters and instead went for capable actors with high credibility."[26]

Book publication[edit]

As the television series progressed through 1999, an associated book based on the series was published.[27][28][29] As with the series, the book received favorable reviews similar to the series. Aaron Winston in a Library Review wrote, "Its clear description and non-exaggerated discussion of the Y2K problem lead CBS and many in the media to credit the work as having positively influenced many businesses and organizations to do the computer repair that was need to their computer clocks."[30]

Video and book distribution[edit]

A DVD was available during the run of the series however it was pulled from the market at its close in 2000. Millennial Entertainment has as of May 2011, yet to announce plans for its re-release. The book remains on the market and continues to sell as a historic reference of an important period in computer-systems history.[31][32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ Open Movie Index
  3. ^ Chaney, Warren H., Ph.D. (2007), Y2K - A World in Crisis, p. 197 - 217, Swan Publishing Company, NY. ISBN 0-943629-39-X
  4. ^ Amazon.com listings [1]
  5. ^ BookFinder.com Edition Listings [2]
  6. ^ Amazon.com book listings [3]
  7. ^ China Publishing listings
  8. ^ A Y2K analysis of the problem
  9. ^ History of Augmented Reality [The History of Augmented Reality]
  10. ^ Emmy Awards - Studio W
  11. ^ Chaney, Warren H., Ph.D. (2007), Y2K - A World in Crisis, p. 149-153, Swan Publishing Company, NY. ISBN 0-943629-39-X
  12. ^ Business Wire, 17% of U.S. Banks Receive 'Below Average' Y2K Grades; 5% Rated 'Low', Business Wire, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, March 8, 1999.
  13. ^ Chaney, Warren H., Ph.D. (2007), Y2K - A World in Crisis, p. 76 - 83, Swan Publishing Company, NY. ISBN 0-943629-39-X
  14. ^ Abrams, Jim CIA Predicts Serious Year 2000 Computer Problems in Foreign Lands, Associated Press, February 24, 1999
  15. ^ Yardeni Report On Y2k to U.S. Senate Committee
  16. ^ House of Representatives Subcommittee Report on the Year 2000 Y2K, Congressional Research Service, December 31, 1998.
  17. ^ Y2K Cost is Worse Than Anyone Thought/Business Week
  18. ^ Smart Computing, The True Costs of Y2K, Aug. 1999, Vol. 7, Issue 8
  19. ^ Chaney, Warren H., Ph.D. (2007), Y2K - A World in Crisis, p. 197 - 217, Swan Publishing Company, NY. ISBN 0-943629-39-X
  20. ^ Lee, Elliott, Benefits of Y2K
  21. ^ Hollman, Kenneth, Ph.D., Zietz, Emily J. Norman, Ph.D., Colvard, Robert G., Ph.D., A Progress Report on Y2K, Journal of Industrial Technology, Number 2, Feb. 1999 to Dec. 1999 [4]
  22. ^ Yardeni, Edward, The Year 2000 Recession, Yardeni Economic Network, November 2, 1998.
  23. ^ Infoworld, "Y2K issues still remain", January 10, 2000 [5]
  24. ^ Open Library Review [6]
  25. ^ Biblio.com Reviews
  26. ^ Screened Reviews (Y2K: World in Crisis)
  27. ^ Amazon.com Books [7]
  28. ^ Barnes & Noble Books [8]
  29. ^ (ISBN) International Standard Book Number Listing [9]
  30. ^ LibraryThing Review [10]
  31. ^ BookFinder Listings
  32. ^ BizView Video and Book Combination

External links[edit]