'Idol' threat to world peace

As if America didn't have enough diplomatic crises, we now have Simon Cowell representing us as a judge on "World Idol" (8 p.m., Fox). The pugnacious Brit was in particularly foul form last week, insulting the Polish "Idol," Alicja Janosz, the Polish judge and the Polish people. He also dismissed the efforts of Lebanese singer Diana Karazon, representing the "Pan Arab" countries. She had the temerity to perform in her own language and represent the musical tradition of her own culture.

While Kelly Clarkson is the likely winner, the one person who stands to gain the most from her international exposure is Belgian judge Nina De Man. While most of the other "experts" played "Simon Says" and offered testy putdowns, De Man seemed supportive and fair without ever descending into fawning fandom. Paula Abdul should study her performance.

Elton John will perform on the conclusion of the competition.

  • Traditionalists can kick off the year with the "115th Tournament of Roses Parade" (10 a.m.), live from Pasadena, Calif. NBC has been broadcasting the annual New Year's Day event for 77 years, beginning on radio in 1927 and then televising the popular parade beginning in 1954.

Tonight's other highlights

  • A serial attacker returns to the scene of his crimes on "Cold Case" (8 p.m., CBS).
  • Walter Cronkite celebrates his 20th year hosting "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2004" on "Great Performances" (8 p.m., PBS).
  • Florida State and Miami meet in the Orange Bowl (8:30 p.m., ABC).

Late night

Amanda Peet and Barry Sonnenfeld appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno hosts Elijah Wood, Jennifer Tilly and Counting Crows on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).

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