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Best Bets: Friday 1/1

8 am: Television

It’s been a New Year’s Day tradition for 110 years, so how can you pass up the Tournament of Roses Parade? Well, you can pass up the crowds but not the floats with a flip of the remote control. KTLA’s commercial-free coverage is a Southern California’s favorite, but by no means the only place to watch. The choices also include Spanish-language commentary on KMEX. Or go to your local Best Buy store and watch the parade on HDTV.

* Tournament of Roses Parade on CBS, NBC, KTLA, ABC, KMEX and cable’s HGTV, 8 a.m., repeated at 7:30 p.m. on KTLA.

11 am: Culture

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Rose queen, schmoze-queen. Get a glimpse of the Nisei queen at the Japanese New Year’s Day Celebration at the New Otani Hotel. A ceremony will include a taiko drum performance, sake barrel breaking and mochi rice pounding. Throughout the afternoon there will be other Japanese cultural demonstrations, including tea ceremonies, calligraphy, kimono dressing and a go tournament.

* Japanese Cultural Series, the New Otani Hotel and Garden, 120 S. Los Angeles St., Little Tokyo. Opening ceremony at the adjacent Weller Court Shopping Center, 11 a.m. Cultural demonstrations, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. Brunch at the New Otani, $24 to $36. (213) 629-1200.

8 pm: Comedy

After the parade, after the football, how about wrapping up the start of the New Year by helping a dozen performers commit “Improvicide”? Audience suggestions are invited in this evening of comedy improv and sketch comedy.

* “Improvicide,” Two Roads Theatre, 4348 Tujunga Ave., Studio City. Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. Ends Jan. 9. $7. (818) 766-9381.

1 am: Pop Music

You were up all night on New Year’s Eve? Why spoil a good thing? The Hollywood Athletic Club offers another dance-toward-dawn incentive in Lady Saw, a colorful Jamaican dancehall singer who dared to be as X-rated in her lyrics as her male peers--and then addressed the resulting controversy in a song called “Freedom of Speech.”

Lady Saw, with DJ Special, the Hollywood Athletic Club, 6525 Sunset Blvd., 1 a.m. $35. (323) 962-6600.

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8 & 9:30 pm: Jazz

When pianist Bill Harris opens a three-day run to play from his recent Madro label release, “Encompass,” he’ll be in distinguished company, joined by saxophonist Herman Riley, bassist John Heard and, from the Modern Jazz Quartet, drummer Tootie Heath.

Bill Harris, the Jazz Bakery, 3233 Helms Ave., Culver City. Also Saturday, 8 and 9:30 p.m., and Sunday, 7 and 8:30 p.m. $17. (310) 271-9039.

all day: Movies

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Emily Watson, who drew raves and an Academy Award nomination for her work as a deeply spiritual but troubled young woman in the 1996 film “Breaking the Waves,” tackles another challenging role: the life story of the brilliant British cellist Jacqueline du Pre, whose career and ultimately, life, was cut short by multiple sclerosis. “Hilary and Jackie” also stars Rachel Griffiths as Du Pre’s self-sacrificing sister, also a talented musician. Times film critic Kenneth Turan says the “performances by actresses Emily Watson and Rachel Griffiths are the only work that rivals [Meryl] Streep’s [in “One True Thing”] this year.”

* “Hilary and Jackie,” which is rated R for language and sexuality, is playing at selected theaters.

all day: Movies

The latter half of the 16th century, or the Elizabethan Age, was a halcyon period for English arts and letters. Flash-forward about 400 years and lo and behold, material from and about the Elizabethan Age is the basis for two of 1998’s most interesting movies, both in limited release: “Elizabeth,” a dramatic look at the life of the so-called Virgin Queen, the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, stars a luminous Cate Blanchett as the young monarch. “Shakespeare in Love” is a whimsical romance about the fictional love affair between the young playwright (Joseph Fiennes) and his muse (Gwyneth Paltrow). Dame Judi Dench, who played Queen Victoria in the 1997 film “Mrs. Brown,” is Queen Elizabeth I in “Shakespeare in Love.”

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* “Elizabeth” and “Shakespeare in Love” are both in limited release.

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Freebie: Pianist Jane Getz’s trio plays jazz at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., 5:30 p.m. (323) 857-6000.

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Spend the first day of 1999 in “The Twilight Zone” with the Sci-Fi Channel’s 42-hour marathon of the Rod Serling classic. (Full schedule: 4 a.m. Friday to 1 a.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Saturday to 3 a.m. Sunday.)


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