A Closer Look At Music On Television This Week (Jan. 3-9, 2005).

Fine Tuning - Weekly column highlighting music on TV (Jan. 3-9, 2005).

A WHOLE NEW YEAR: No matter what happened in 2004, you can forget it now. It's 2005! It's a whole new year and you get a fresh start, a clean slate, a chance to start anew!

OK, so really it's just a simple time accounting construct that for some reason gives our fragile humanity something to look forward to, even though Jan. 1 was just another day, not unlike the one before it, or the one after. But, as humble slaves to television, let's look at it together as 365 chances for the glowing box to astound us anew.

LOU'S DOING GOOD: For years Lou Rawls has hosted "An Evening of Stars" to raise money for the United Negro College Fund via a syndicated entertainment special. Although in some markets this show gets buried in unfortunate time slots, it's worth seeking out on Saturday (check local listings), with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Brian McKnight, Musiq, Yolanda Adams, Joss Stone and more performing. The 2005 edition features a tribute to Quincy Jones, who is presented with the UNCF's Award of Excellence and honored by a host of musical stars.

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT: Tune in to the "31st Annual People's Choice Awards" Sunday on CBS and be astounded at what your fellow man enjoys! That might be a bit harsh, because we're all people, and surely Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey and Jeff Foxworthy must have some redeeming value, no?

MISSY SCHOOLS THE NEXT GENERATION: Missy Elliott didn't make her way to the head of the hip-hop class without working her ass off, and the hopefuls on the UPN series "The Road To Stardom With Missy Elliott" shouldn't expect any special treatment just because they're taking their shot at the big time on reality television. Premiering Wednesday on UPN, the 13-episode series was shot during Elliott's summer 2004 tour, and features wanna-be artists put through the ringer as they're exposed to just what it takes to be a professional performer.

Joining Missy on the judging panel are fellow artists Busta Rhymes and Teena Marie, as well as producer Dallas Austin and Elliott's manager, Mona Scott.

DAYS GO BY: And you're sitting around watching TV? Good for you. Here are some highlights for this week:

Monday: "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson" debuts in earnest on CBS, and G. Love will be on hand to inaugurate the new host, as wlll actors David Duchovny and Nicole Sullivan.

Tuesday: If you haven't had your fill of college football bowl games, ABC's got the 2005 FedEx Orange Bowl and the comic mismatch of Trace Adkins and Ashlee Simpson performing at halftime. Will he have a wardrobe malfunction? Will she lip-sync? Tune in and find out!

Wednesday: The Black Keys, the greatest little duo to come along in some time, entertains on CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman," which will also feature Keifer Sutherland chatting about saving the world again on a new season of "24" and Marv Albert saying "Yes!" a lot and avoiding conversation about that messy sex stuff from few years ago.

Thursday: Jill Scott is one of my favorite vocalists, and you can find out why when she visits PBS' "Tavis Smiley" ... But if soul's not your thing, then rock out with the Donnas on CBS' "The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson."

Friday: If there's even the littlest bit of a Rush fan in you, then watch "VH1 Classic in Concert: Rush in Rio" this week. It's an astounding live trio with a stellar rock show... and watch Wilco on CBS' "The Late Show With David Letterman," because everyone loves Wilco.

Saturday: More Wilco... The band is taking up half of PBS' "Austin City Limits," sharing the hour with Bright Eyes. Is it me, or is this show still proving its mettle 30 years on? (Pssst. It's not me. This show's great!)

Sunday: Say it with me: "Kenny Loggins on Ice." C'mon... Say it again: "Kenny Loggins on Ice." It's on NBC. 'Nuff said.