January 11, 1999 12:00 PM

RAISING THE CURTAIN ON 2000

Time marches on, and the stars can’t wait to celebrate in concert

Focus

Forget the computers. If you want a real Y2K problem, try booking a celebrity for your Millennium’s Eve party on Dec. 31,1999. It’s still 12 months away, but many famous names have already made other commitments. Celine Dion will bid the old year adieu in a Montreal concert before temporarily retiring to concentrate on her family. Gloria Estefan is mulling plans to bring her Latin beat to a Miami gig. Naomi Judd will reunite with her daughter Wynonna in a Phoenix concert billed as a celebration of both the millennium and Naomi’s recovery from hepatitis C, a disease that has kept her off the concert trail since 1991.

Some performers are playing musical chairs. Barbra Streisand, who’s set to tour at the end of the year, is said to be interested in performing in either New York City or Los Angeles on the Big Night, but the New York Daily News says fears about possible Year 2000 computer problems will keep her away from concert halls on Dec. 31. Meanwhile, Hollywood columnist Marilyn Beck says that the Rolling Stones are ready to take Streisand’s place at Madison Square Garden that night if the diva demurs.

A ways from Times Square, Elton John plans to greet the new age with a pair of midnight concerts in two time zones: He’ll start singing in Perth’s Opera House to mark the new year in Australia, then fly to Hawaii to finish another show before the clock strikes 12.

As for venues, Queen Elizabeth 2 (the ship) plans a Millennium cruise from New York City to the Caribbean. Queen Elizabeth II (the monarch) plans to visit London’s new Millennium Dome, where rocker Peter Gabriel is set to create a dance for the occasion. Perhaps a two(K)-step.

New Skating Partners

As icebreakers go, Bret Hedican had the perfect line to introduce himself to figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi. “You probably don’t remember me, but I played for the U.S. hockey team in France,” the 6’2″ defenseman said on meeting the 5’1″ Olympic Gold Medal winner at the opening of Vancouver’s new hockey stadium in September 1995. They quickly became friends, keeping in touch with cell phones and e-mails as he traveled with the Vancouver Canucks and she toured with the Discover Stars on Ice show. At a San Francisco restaurant on Christmas Eve, Hedican had another good line: Let’s get married. That one worked too. “I was a little speechless at first, but of course I was thrilled, and I knew the answer right away,” Yamaguchi told PEOPLE. The couple plan to wed next year. Although Yamaguchi, 27, admits that “figure skaters have awful perceptions of hockey players,” she says the 28-year-old Hedican is different—clean-cut and soft-spoken. Besides, the two are in sync about where to spend their honeymoon. Says Yamaguchi: “Someplace warm—and sunny.”

In the Cards: A Fa-La-La-La-Lot of Critters

‘Twas the season for dogs, cats, elephants and, yes, even reindeer to bring holiday greetings. Or so it seemed after a quick peek at the cards-from-stars in Santa’s mailbag. Country music’s Clint Black mailed 5,000 to friends and fans. TV’s Dr. Quinn, Jane Seymour, and her family sent 500 before they headed to their 14th-century manor house near Bath, England, for a celebration. “We laugh for two weeks and get very, very fat,” said Seymour’s husband, James Keach. For a little post-holiday fun, try matching these cards with the personalities who sent them.

A: Homeless dogs Cole, Sunny and Radar were saved from the pound in the spirit of the season.

B: I’ll have a blue without you,” is the greeting inside this hand-painted card.

C: When the family couldn’t get together for a holiday photograph, this star decided to use a cartoon instead.

D: This UNICEF card was sent by one of the agency’s ambassadors.

E: “May your heart be filled with love this holiday,” reads this card, on which animals team to decorate a levitated tree.

ANSWER: (A) Clint and Lisa Hartman Black; (B) Tico Torres; (C) Jane Seymour; (D) Jane Curtin; (E) Tim Burton.

Twice as Spice

Pregnancy hasn’t cramped the style of Spice Girls mothers-to-be Victoria Adams (due in February) and Mel B (due in March). They’re still using their Girl Power, hanging with London’s celebrity crowd and tweaking the British establishment. “Have you been doing lots of exercise?” asked a curious Prince Charles following a royal charity performance by the Spice Girls in December. “Yeah, this,” replied Mel B, making motions to indicate shoveling food into her mouth. Not that it harms their girlish figures. Said the BBC’s Kim Creed after the royal performance: “They looked fabulous.”

Staying Alive

A 29-percent drop in ratings from last fall may indicate the bloom is off The Rosie O’Donnell Show. But don’t blame Rosie. Increased talk show competition, coupled with broadcast TV’s loss of viewers to cable, satellite and Internet entertainment, meant lower numbers for just about everyone but Jerry Springer this season. “I’m sure they are not sweating,” media reporter Joe Schlosser says of the show’s team. “They know they have a good product, and the audience genuinely likes her.” Nonetheless, expect one major change: The show, which debuted June 1996, returns to live broadcasts Jan. 4 in an effort to capitalize on Rosie’s comedic strength. “Spontaneity is her brilliance,” says show spokeswoman Anne Marie Riccitelli. “She connects better with the audience in that initial segment when they are doing it live,” adds Bill Carroll of Katz Media, who believes that Rosie, like a hardy perennial, will bloom again.

ON THE BLOCK

DOUGLASES’ DESERT DIGS

Kirk and Anne Douglas are sad they’re selling the Palm Springs home they’ve owned for 42 years, but “my husband and I would like to be a little closer to our grandchildren,” Anne says. The couple will buy a home in Montecito, Calif., near Santa Barbara, where some of their children live. The four-bedroom, five-bath Palm Springs house, on the market for $1.6 million, comes with a tennis court, gym, steam room, guest house and many furnishings. Over the years, Kirk, 82, and Anne, 79, played host at the house to Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Robert F. Kennedy and Lady Bird Johnson. “I think,” says Anne, “I’m going to leave a plaque—’blah, blah, blah has slept here.’ ”

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