Besides the biggest event going -- the turn of the year, century and millennium -- what else is new this week?

There's a lot of good ol' American college football, as well as the elaborate parades that go with them.

And if one of your new-millennium resolutions is to fill your life with more high-brow culture, you can get off to a fairly good start with Richard Tucker's annual "Opera Gala" Monday at 9 on WETA and the Metropolitan Opera's production of "Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro)" Wednesday at 8 on PBS.

And a note to fans of PBS's "Firing Line": The 33-year series has ended. On Dec. 13, William F. Buckley Jr. taped the two-part finale of the weekly forum. That caught many stations unaware, including WETA, which had cleared its schedule for holiday and New Year's Eve programming. The station managed to squeeze in the final two installments on Dec. 18 without fanfare.


Monday at 10 on CBS

Place your bets now: Who's the person of the century? Your choices are Franklin D. Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Mohandas Gandhi or Adolf Hitler. Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, Lesley Stahl, Morley Safer and Ed Bradley review those five leaders for the finale of the CBS News/Time 100 People of the Century series.


Wednesday at 9 on CBS

Achievement in the performing arts pays off beyond Oscars, Tonys, Emmys and Grammys. On Dec. 5 at the Kennedy Center's Opera House, CBS taped tributes to comedian-pianist Victor Borge, actors Jason Robards and Sean Connery, dancer-choreographer Judith Jamison and singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts.

Walter Cronkite hosted the 22nd black-tie event, which was attended by President and Mrs. Clinton.

The Kennedy Center board can honor one artist a year who is not an American citizen if the artist has had a significant impact on the cultural scene in the United States. Connery, a Scot, is in this category. (The City of Washington Pipe Band honored him with "Scotland the Brave.") But his up-by-the-bootstraps story is one Americans might admire.

Connery, 69, grew up in a tenement in Edinburgh, the elder of two sons of a truck driver and a charwoman. By 13, he had quit school and taken an assortment of jobs: day laborer, steel bender, cement mixer, movie usher, bricklayer, lifeguard, coffin polisher, weight lifter and artist's model. He also served in the Royal Navy for three years, but was discharged because of stomach ulcers.

In 1950, he represented Scotland in the Mr. Universe pageant in London, where he was spotted by the producers of the hit Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "South Pacific" and given the role of a singing, dancing, shirtless sailor.

In 1962, Connery was chosen over Cary Grant, Rex Harrison, Trevor Howard and Roger Moore for the role of the debonair James Bond, Ian Fleming's Agent 007, in "Dr. No." He won his Oscar for "The Untouchables" in 1987.

Borge, 90, born in Copenhagen and known as the Great Dane, escaped from Finland on the last American passenger ship to leave northern Europe before the start of World War II. He arrived in the United States knowing no English, but by 1953 he began the longest-running one-man show in history -- 849 Broadway performances of "Comedy in Music."

Jamison, 56, a native of Philadelphia, failed a television audition but caught the eye of Alvin Ailey, who asked her to join his dance troupe. From 1956 to 1980, when she appeared in "Sophisticated Ladies," she was the star of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Upon Ailey's death in 1989, she took the helm of the company.

Robards, 77, whose father, Jason Robards Sr., was a well-known actor of the 1920s and early '30s, enlisted in the Navy at 17 and was stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked. After the war, he enrolled in his father's alma mater, American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and made his Broadway debut in 1951 in "Stalag 17." He holds Obie, Tony and Emmy awards and two Oscars.

Wonder, 49, was always a music prodigy. He sang even as a toddler. At 7, he had mastered the harmonica and drums; at 11, he had a Motown contract and at 13, a hit album. With more than 70 million albums sold, he owns 17 Grammy Awards as well as an Oscar (for "I Just Called to Say I Love You").

On hand to honor them are Coretta Scott King and entertainers including Halle Berry, Bill Cosby, Matthew Broderick, Morgan Freeman, Frank Langella, Christopher Plummer, Smokey Robinson, Diane Schuur and Kevin Spacey, members of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Broadway cast of "Kiss Me Kate."


Thursday night at 12:35 a.m. on ABC

Bill Maher's show in the early hours of New Year's Eve opens with a sketch in which he portrays an MTV VJ hosting a millennium-themed show. Then John Popper, Tom Arnold and Arianna Huffington discuss a variety of issues with other celebrities playing historical characters: Napoleon (Gilbert Gottfried), Joan of Arc (Shelley Long), Torquemada (Paul Rodriguez), Mussolini (Rod Steiger) and Freud (Michael McKean).


Saturday at 11 a.m. on


The 111th Rose Parade opens with the arrival of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and closes with a human banner of 2,000 area high school students creating a formation spelling the parade's theme, "Celebration 2000." Roy E. Disney will serve as grand marshal.

The parade will feature 54 flower-covered floats, 24 marching bands, 26 equestrian units and Rose Queen Sophia Bush and her court.

Hosting are Victoria Rowell and Doug Davidson for CBS, Pat O'Brien and Nancy O'Dell for NBC and Robin Roberts for ABC.