With the exception of the Super Bowl or the Academy Awards ceremony, tonight's conclusion of "American Idol" (7 p.m., Fox) will probably be the highest-rated prime-time show of the year. Its hype and buildup certainly rank right up there with the annual football classic.
So who will it be: the velvet-voiced Ruben Studdard with the Pavarotti profile? Or Clay Aiken, the Dixie Pixie? If you believe in cliches, then everybody's a winner when it gets this close. Tell that to Al Gore.
- think it comes down to a simple question. Of the two contestants, whose full-length CD would you buy, or even listen to? Clay is talented and telegenic, but if I had to endure 12 of his Broadway power ballads in one sitting, I think my head would explode. Hey, that's just one man's opinion.
- have to cast my vote for Mr. 205. Unlike Kelly Clarkson, whom I've already forgotten, I think we're going to be hearing from Mr. Studdard for a long, long time.
- Speaking of pop idols, Michael Jackson will probably not be pleased with tonight's 300th episode of "Law & Order" (9 p.m., NBC). The script for the season finale is an unsettling variation on several tabloid tales linked to the Prince of Pop. Detectives Briscoe and Green respond to a call after an infant is found dead outside a posh hotel. It seems a popular comedian (Adam Ferrera) had lost control of his adopted son after dangling him outside his window. But they soon learn that the funny man had many more secrets in his closet. When they uncover the comic's hidden history of alleged child sexual abuse, McCoy feels that the only way they can bring the rich celebrity to justice is to indict the parents who allowed their children to become his "playmates."
- Reba McEntire hosts the "38th annual Academy of Country Music Awards" (7 p.m., CBS), live from Las Vegas. Singer Toby Keith leads the pack with eight nominations. Scheduled performers include Alabama, Brooks and Dunn, Terri Clark, Martina McBride, Willie Nelson, George Strait, Shania Twain and others.
Tonight's other highlights
- A new species threatens Earth's existence on the season finale of "Enterprise" (7 p.m., UPN).
- Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Ryan Phillippe star in the 1997 old-fashioned thriller "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (7 p.m., WB).
- Andrew Firestone and his final choice, Jen, are reunited on "The Bachelor: After the Final Rose" (8 p.m., ABC).