Party like it's 1999

Three wide-eyed promoters and the almighty A.H. Belo Corp. plan to boldly carry Big D and the rest of the world into the new millennium

"To celebrate the millennium, some people are going to see the sun rise on the Pyramids," Kaplan says. "What are we going to do in Dallas?"

The actors and choir chant: "We're gonna turn!"
Some people, Kaplan continues, will rent the Concorde and fly around the world. "What are we gonna do?"

Some people will go to their local corner store and buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate the millennium, he says. "What are we gonna do?"

The crowd is swept with emotion. Like the dreamers who brought the world to Dallas in 1936, by God, this can-do crowd will introduce the world to the future. When that clock turns from 1999 to 2000, this crowd knows what it's gonna do. It's gonna turn.

In Dallas, the masses are gonna turn their heads to the future, and the future is advertising.

Yessir, here on the banks of the Trinity, in a city founded on real estate speculation, retailing, banking, and salesmanship, the new age of man will come rolling in, brought to you by the proud sponsors of corporate America.

And there at the front edge of the wave, sounding the clarion call like Gabriel blowing his horn, will be Texas' Leading Daily.

In Dallas, the millennium isn't only going to turn, it's going to spin.

Ever since mankind was blessed with the power to wonder, the future has been a source of speculation. Now, the generation that walks this fragile planet finds itself awake on the eve of a new millennium.

What does the future hold? How will humanity fare when the sun sets on the 1900s and the years begin with the number 2?

Will there be good shopping there? What brand of clothes will people wear? What will the face of the future look like?

For generations, preachers, poets, and scholars have struggled and failed to predict the future.

Until now.
"In the world of The Turn, the future wears a human face."
The young doer who settled upon this startling conclusion sits at a conference table inside a barren, third-floor suite in the Renaissance Building in downtown Dallas. He is Jeffrey Kaplan, a self-assured, handsome man whose blue eyes dance with excitement as talks about the year 2000.

"It's the right time for society to look back, take a breath, and see where we've come from," Kaplan says. "It has been said that all achievements have been done on the shoulders of greatness, and it's time to look back at that greatness and just be glad for a moment."

Kaplan lives in California, where he is the head of the Los Angeles-based Events Marketing & Management and two other promotion-oriented corporations that specialize in putting on golf and ski exhibitions across the country, including annual shows in Dallas.

Although Kaplan dreamed of The Turn two years ago, it wasn't until January that he moved to Dallas and began preparing for his biggest show ever.

"It's really challenging not to get too excited," Kaplan says. "I love every part of this. I want to run out, and I want to do all the things that have to do with this thing all the way to the end."

Of course one man, no matter how able, can't make The Turn by himself. Seated with Kaplan at the table are his two partners, David Shinn and Jean Compton. Earlier this year, the trio forged a new company called The Turn Group, a partnership of the three with The Dallas Morning News.

Any skeptics out there who might think The Turn is some fly-by-night operation can rest easy. In and around Dallas, at least, none of the partners has any civil or criminal records to speak of. In fact, their reputations appear solid.

In local film circles, Compton is best known for her work on the screenplay of the Dallas-produced Can't You Hear the Wind Howl? The Life and Music of Robert Johnson. Last year, the film made its debut at the USA Film Festival and went on to win the 1998 Lone Star Award for best documentary. Compton also is a member of The Writer's Garret and has been active in local dance and theater projects.

Some 17 years ago, Compton forged a creative relationship with David Shinn, the president of Show Works Inc. Most people in Dallas probably haven't heard of Shinn, but he is known well in the trade show industry for his ability to put together one helluva exhibit.

In fact, companies like Nortel, the Richardson-based telecommunications giant, love Shinn because he is able to take new technology the company creates and build an exhibit that visually communicates how potential buyers can use that technology to increase profits.

"I'm always looking for a new, creative, or different way of communicating our story," Nortel spokeswoman Connie Fisher says. "I can always rely on the fact that [Shinn] will come up with something different."

With their combined experience in the creative world of corporate promotions, The Turn Group trio appear suited for the seemingly impossible task of preparing, in just 18 months, the largest exhibition that any of them has ever taken on.

"This is the most important thing any of us have done in our lives. I mean, it's that important to us," Kaplan says. "This is an international event that just happens to be taking place in Dallas."

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