'Idol' goes international for holiday

A famous straight-shooter delivers wince-inducing assessments of friendly foreigners. No, it's not a roundup of Donald Rumsfeld's press conferences, it's Simon Cowell, judging the contestants on "World Idol," (7 p.m., Fox). This international talent contests pits "American Idol" Kelly Clarkson against singers and "Idol" winners from all over the world. In the second half of this competition, airing Jan. 1, the "World Idol" will be crowned.

  • By Christmas evening, some viewers have gorged themselves on holiday programming and are ready to move on to year-end retrospectives and the glut of bowl games. Here's a handy list for those who want to wring every last minute out of the Christmas season:

TNT's "A Christmas Story" marathon will run until 5 p.m., giving viewers plenty of chances to shoot their eye out.

Viewers who are amazed, amused or appalled by garish Christmas lights and neighborhood decoration contests owe it to themselves to watch the encore presentation of "Extreme Christmas: Bigger and Brighter" (6 p.m., HGTV)

The documentary "Jesus: The Complete Story" (7 p.m., Discovery) devotes three hours to the life of the religious figure whose birthday is celebrated today.

Hallmark repeats the 2003 TV film "A Carol Christmas" (7 p.m., Hallmark), starring Tori Spelling as a spoiled Hollywood workaholic who learns a lesson or two before the holidays end.

Charles Durning stars in the 1989 holiday drama "It Nearly Wasn't Christmas" (7 p.m., Disney), about a little girl who tries to talk Santa out of throwing in the towel.

The vintage animated film "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" (9 p.m., Family) repeats one more time before being put back in the programming attic until December 2004.

Tonight's other highlights

  • Lily investigates a drug-related shooting from 1973 on "Cold Case" (7 p.m., CBS).
  • Murder stalks the robot competition circuit on "CSI" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • VH1 kicks off a five-part countdown of the "100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years" (8 p.m.).
  • A troubled teen flees a mental ward on "Without a Trace" (9 p.m., CBS).
  • Upon his return from Africa, Carter receives a frosty reception from Abby on "ER" (9 p.m., NBC).

Late night

  • Cate Blanchett appears on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Hugh Grant, Dakota Fanning and Jonny Lang on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

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