Will the show go on come New Year's Eve on Broadway?

Not likely. As New York City officials debate whether theater crowds should stay home or turn out for what promises to be a night of human gridlock in Times Square, a producers' organization says the matter has been settled for months, with virtually every show deciding to sit out the night.

On Wednesday, it was reported that the Big Apple police department was recommending a Broadway blackout out of "safety concerns."

It's estimated some 2 million people will jam into Midtown Manhattan to ring in Y2K. With surveys showing 80 percent of every blinkin' person in Florida, to name one state, wants to spend New Year's Eve in New York, 2 million may be a very conservative guess. In any case, theater productions--from hit shows such as Chicago, Fosse and others--could add another 40,000.

The police plan went over well with the League of American Theaters and Producers, but not so well with the mayor, sort of a league unto himself.

Big Apple hizzoner Rudy Guiliani spoke wistfully with reporters Wednesday of his own theatergoing habits. "There was a period in my life where I used to celebrate New Year's by going to a Broadway play," he said. "It was a tradition."

Recovering from that bout with sentiment, Guiliani went on to blast the police proposal. "You have to allow the signature entertainment for New York--Broadway--to take place that night," he said.

But not even the take-charge mayor--reenforced cement bunker or no--can force the curtains to go up on December 31. Some shows, in fact, have long planned to skip the evening.

Broadway's hottest ticket, The Lion King, for instance, is hosting a special matinee performance that day and, in turn, cutting its usual 8 p.m. show. Tony-winner Cabaret, now at the old Studio 54, will make way for a private party at the famed venue.

And according to Kylie Robertson, of the producers' league, virtually every Broadway show plans to call it a night--decisions unaffected by Guiliani's appeal.

(ORIGINALLY POSETED at 2:10 p.m. on 7/8/99)