NEW YORK - Elton John, the Jonas Brothers, Daughtry, Taylor Swift, Lil Wayne and Fall Out Boy all have something in common this New Year's Eve: they'll all be working - even if only through the magic of videotape.

There's some stiff competition among the networks for people who will be partying in front of their television sets Wednesday.

The granddaddy of New Year's Eve entertainment is "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2009," the title made even more torturous by the baton-passing between the two entertainment utility players. The show has a prime-time hour at 10 p.m. ET, breaks for news, then returns with Swift, the Jonas Brothers and Lionel Richie in Times Square. Fergie will host a Hollywood segment with the Pussycat Dolls and others.

Carson Daly is hosting his fifth New Year's Eve special on NBC, with the same format: an hour in prime-time, a break for news, and a longer party. T.I., Ludacris, Katy Perry, the Ting Tings and Elton John all join Daly.

Daughtry and Scott Weiland are featured players on Fox's late-night special, with Spike Feresten and Mark Thompson as hosts. It airs at 11 p.m. ET.

One recent trend is partying news networks: if you want to jam with Anderson Cooper or Bill Hemmer, you can. Cooper, teamed with comic Kathy Griffin, is in Times Square for CNN, which boasts a surprisingly cool lineup of Lil Wayne, My Morning Jacket and Hinder. Fox's "U Party 2009" has LoCash Cowboys and Chuck Hicks.

The hardest workers of the night? Try the classic rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd - they're booked on both CNN and the Fox broadcast network.

CBS, by contrast, is going to bed early. It's airing a David Letterman "Late Show" rerun.

Other shows to look out for:

-New York City's underground life is explored in "The Tunnel Dwellers of New York," a film that will get its U.S. television premiere on the Sundance Channel. Doctumentarian Chantal Lasbats explores a fascinating world of some 18 levels of tunnels and 468 open or abandoned subway stations. Among those we meet are Carlos, who has added paint and appliances to a submarine-like cubicle. It premieres Dec. 29 at 9 p.m., and is rerun at 10 a.m. on Dec. 30.

-The third season of "Great Performances at the Met" opens with "Doctor Atomic," composed by John Adams. The opera is set in New Mexico in the summer of 1945. Scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer joins the military in testing the first nuclear bomb. The story set to music has "a score filled with color, syncopation and lush interludes," The Associated Press wrote upon its premiere. Check local listings for the PBS airtime.

-Ricky!!!! "I Love Lucy" is probably the most-seen television sitcom of all time, and it has a new home. The Hallmark Channel now has the rights to the series, TV's most popular during the early 1950s. It will celebrate with a 13-hour marathon of Lucy and Ricky, Fred and Ethel, starting at 8 a.m. ET on Jan. 2.

-Still no little green men, but science remains endlessly fascinated with the prospect of life on Mars. The science series "NOVA" explores that topic with "Is There Life on Mars?" and brings in the freshest discoveries from recent NASA missions to the red planet. It premieres on PBS on Dec. 30 at 8 p.m.

-Reservations, please. HBO's "Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven" is a documentary that follows Sirio Maccioni and his three sons from the time the famed New York City restaurant shut down in 2004 to its reopening in Bloomberg Towers two years later. It premieres Dec. 29 at 8 p.m.

-It's not just talk for MSNBC's Chris Matthews this week. His "Hardball" airs a documentary, "The Decider," that takes a probing look at the eight years of the Bush administration as it comes to a close. The film focuses on what will probably be looked back upon as the key decision of Bush's presidency - to go to war in Iraq. It will be shown at 5 p.m. on Dec. 29, rerun two hours later.

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Sundance Channel is a subsidiary of Rainbow Media Holdings LLC; Hallmark Channel is owned by Crown Media Holdings Inc. HBO is owned by Time Warner Inc. MSNBC is owned by the General Electric Co.

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On the Net:

http://www.hallmarkchannelpress.com .

http://www.msnbc.com

http://www.pbs.org

http://www.homeboxoffice.com

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