99-014 (Millennium)
Distributed September 2, 1999
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Glenn Hare

15th-century portion of CNN's `Millennium' will première at Brown

Episode five of the CNN presentation Millennium will première at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, 1999, in the Starr Auditorium of the MacMillan Science Building. Millennium is a 10-hour documentary series that takes a sweeping look at events, culture and people that have sculpted the world during the past 1,000 years.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A première screening of a one-hour episode from Millennium, a 10-hour CNN presentation that takes a sweeping look at events, cultures and people that have sculpted the world during the past 1,000 years, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30, in the Starr Auditorium of the MacMillan Science Building.

The free public screening will feature episode five, Century of the Sail: The Fifteenth Century, and is presented by the John Carter Brown Library, in cooperation with CNN and Ted Turner, Brown Class of 1960.

Episode five tells of Zheng He, a Chinese admiral who sailed to more than 30 countries around the rim of the Indian Ocean. His ships were the largest wooden sailing vessels ever built. Some were as large as 400 feet long and 150 feet wide. His first fleet had more than 300 ships and almost 28,000 men. His voyages marked the beginning and the end of Chinese sea-going exploration. Bureaucrats persuaded the emperor to abandon global ambitions with the advice, "The outside world has nothing to offer China; leave it alone."

Christopher Columbus is also featured in this segment. During 15th century, Portugal and Spain were poor countries compared to their Mediterranean neighbors. Eager for riches, the Portuguese and Spanish looked to the seas for the gold of Africa and the spices of the East. Columbus had an idea for a faster, better trade route. He sailed west into the Atlantic, and his gamble paid off. Columbus made landfall in the Caribbean on Oct. 12, 1492. He failed to reach India but discovered a new world.

In addition, episode five explores the riches of Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire of Turkey, and Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital of Central America.

The series was inspired by the best-selling book Millennium: A History of Our Last Thousand Years, written by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, a former research fellow at the John Carter Brown Library. His other highly acclaimed books include The Times Atlas of World Exploration, The Times Guide to the People of Europe and Columbus.

The documentary series took more than two years to film. Its producers and crews traveled more 100,000 miles in 28 countries gathering footage. British filmmaker Sir Jeremy Isaacs and Pat Mitchell, president of Time Inc.-CNN Productions are its executive producers. Academy Award winning actor Ben Kingsley narrates the series.

As part of the screening, Fernandez-Armesto, Isaac and Mitchell will be on hand to answer questions after the preview. Millennium will air on CNN for 10 consecutive Sundays beginning Sunday, Oct. 10, at 10 p.m.