Paul Simon becomes the first recipient of the "Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings).
Named for George and Ira Gershwin, this newly minted award recognizes the profound and positive effect of American popular music on the world's culture. The prize will be given every year to either a composer or performer whose career and work exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.
Simon seems like a natural to win the first Gershwin Prize. Early in the 20th century, the Gershwins incorporated the relatively new sounds of jazz and swing into orchestral music. Simon has spent the past several decades infusing beats from places as far away as Peru and South Africa into his popular work.
¢ Fans of "The Sopranos" who rue its passing, or are still angry and confused about its dark and enigmatic conclusion, can take solace with the repeats, now in steady rotation on A&E.; Tonight features two from 2002 that remind us how "The Sopranos" mixed the ever-present threat of violence with absurd situations and black humor.
In tonight's first "Sopranos" (8 p.m., A&E;), Christopher, Silvio and Ralph take it upon themselves to confront American Indian protesters out to disrupt a Columbus Day parade in Newark. Critics and fans were split on this episode. Most thought it was a ridiculous departure from the show's high standards. A few (including me) loved it and saw it as a way of lampooning political correctness and ethnic sensitivities. It was also a light note in a season in which Ralph's character became increasingly erratic and homicidal.
The dark and humorous theme continues in the second helping (9:15 p.m.), when New York crime boss Johnny "Sack" Sacramoni (Vince Curatola) grows incensed when he hears that someone in Tony's crew made a disparaging remark about his wife's ample weight. Of course, sometimes a "fat" joke is more than just a joke. And this act of disrespect would have violent reverberations and cause ruptures between New York and New Jersey that continued until the series' final moments.
Tonight's other highlights
¢ The top 16 compete on "So You Think You Can Dance" (7 p.m., Fox).
¢ Impersonators impersonate on "The Next Best Thing" (7 p.m., ABC).
¢ "Bear Island" (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings) looks at the threats to Alaska's coastal grizzly bears.
¢ The talent search continues from London to Minnesota on "Last Comic Standing" (8 p.m., NBC).
¢ The search moves to New York and Chicago on "American Inventor" (8 p.m., ABC).
¢ A family battles fears of a haunted doll collection on "Ghost Hunters" (8 p.m., Sci Fi).
¢ A man named Noah is found dead beside his ark on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS).
¢ Tyler and Jay return to New York, despite threats from Will on "Traveler" (9 p.m., ABC).
¢ Tommy woos Colleen on "Rescue Me" (9 p.m., FX).
¢ Shellfish delights on "Top Chef" (9 p.m., Bravo).