TURN ON, TUNE IN OR MISS OUT : Charlie Rose and masters of the art universe on PBS; ABC welcomes new year with Dick Clark in Times Square



"The Great Masters With Charlie Rose" / 6 p.m. KCET

Charlie Rose, who interviews prominent personalities of the present, examines a trio of true artists from our past. In this PBS special, the veteran talk-show host features the works of Jan Vermeer, Pablo Picasso and Paul Cezanne. New major exhibits of all three artists were shown in the United States in 1996: Vermeer in Washington, Picasso in New York and Cezanne in Philadelphia.


"The Metropolitan Opera Presents" / 8 p.m. KCET

Mozart's 1790 comedy "Cosi Fan Tutte" has been described as "a glorious soap bubble" and a "deep and unsettling masterpiece." Set in Naples, the plot concerns two sisters (Carol Vaness and Susanne Mentzer) whose fidelity is put to the test by their respective fiancees (Dwayne Croft and Jerry Hadley). Thomas Allen sings the role of Don Alfonso, a cynical philosopher who wagers that the women would give their hearts to new suitors if the opportunity arose. Cecilia Bartoli is the maid Despina.


"Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve '97" / 11:35 p.m. ABC

Ten, nine, eight, seven ... Neither rain nor sleet nor snow will bar Clark from taking his customary post above Times Square. It is the 25th consecutive year he has led the countdown to midnight in New York as thousands of raucous revelers go nuts on the streets below. Six, five, four ... In taped segments from Hollywood, "Clueless" stars Stacey Dash and Donald Adeosun Faison introduce Jann Arden ("Insensitive"), KISS ("Rock and Roll All Night"), the Presidents of the United States of America ("Peaches") and Tony Rich ("Nobody Knows"). Three, two, one ... Well, you know the drill.


"The 108th Tournament of Roses Parade" / 8 a.m. CBS, NBC, KTLA, ABC, KMEX

"Life's Shining Moments" is the theme of this year's pageant in Pasadena, where grand marshals Carl Lewis and Shannon Miller will lead the festive procession of floats, marching bands and equestrian units. Lewis and Miller, of course, shined at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta by claiming gold in the long jump and gymnastics. On KTLA, which traditionally carries the Southland's most popular telecast, the dependable duo of Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards will report from their usual vantage point on Colorado Boulevard.


The Rose Bowl / 1:30 p.m. ABC

It's a rare New Year's Day when both USC and UCLA have failed to qualify for postseason play. As it stands, Trojan and Bruin boosters must be content to watch one or more of the day's six games, the most interesting of which is a shootout between No. 2-ranked Arizona State (11-0) and Big Ten co-champion Ohio State (10-1). On Thursday, the Sugar Bowl offers a sweet rematch in which Florida (11-1) attempts to avenge its sole loss against Florida State (11-0) at 5 p.m. on ABC.


"Politically Incorrect's Greatest Hits" / 10 p.m. ABC

Host Bill Maher refers to his freewheeling talk show, which moves from cable's Comedy Central to late-night network TV on Jan. 6, as a "no-holds-barred debate among people who should never meet in real life." This hourlong special culls amusing clips from four seasons of the show, a lively forum focusing on hot-button issues whose guests have ranged from Tim Allen to Barry White. And Saturday at 10 p.m. on HBO, Maher appears in "The Golden Goose Special," his swan song to stand-up comedy.


"JAG" / 9 p.m. CBS

That network is no typo. "JAG," the diverting action-drama jettisoned last season by NBC, resurfaces in place of the canceled "Mr. and Mrs. Smith." David James Elliott is back as Naval officer and gentleman Harmon Rabb Jr. (his pals call him Harm), a resourceful lawyer who works for the Judge Advocate General's corps. Catherine Bell replaces the striking Tracey Needham as Rabb's by-the-book partner, Major Sarah MacKenzie (and no, you can't call her Mac).


"Lost on Earth" / 7 p.m. USA

Here's a new series that should get lost. It's a silly sitcom about a smart-aleck TV reporter (Tim Conlan) whose ratings-minded boss (Paul Gleason) orders him to host a show with a gaggle of grotesque puppets. In effect, Conlan serves as the straight man for these life-sized aliens seeking a return to their own planet. Maybe it would be funnier if Alf was around to show them the way.

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