Now Here's the News

Such as it is at this time of the year... and just be happy, TV Column fans, that we, at least, aren't into reruns...

Even though the six-hour miniseries on which it's to be based won't even premiere until Feb. 14... NBC has given the go-ahead to make a weekly series out of its remake of James Jones' "From Here to Eternity" for the 1979-80 fall season...

Already signed for nextyear are William Devane... who plays Sgt. Warden... and Roy Thinnes, and the producers also hope to bring back Kim Bassinger...

Moving Hastily Along

The National Citizens Committee for Broadcasting and its chairman... oops, chairperson... Ralph Nader... yesterday asked President Carter to direct his chief inflation fighter, Alfred Kahn... "to investigate the record billions of dollars in profits recently announced by AT&-T..."

NCCB. a consumer interest group here, charged that AT&-T's pledge to keep prices the same for the coming year was "at best illusory and, at worst, a deceitful trick"...

Nader called for a price reduction and a probe of AT&-T's "so-called assurances of voluntary compliance"... which he characterized "an outrage and an affront to President Carter and the people of this country"...

People are so GRUMPY at this time of the year.. for instance, ABC News' Geraldo Rivera... who yesterday notified his boss, Roone Arledge, that "We are mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore"....

Rivera was reacting to a recent letter to Arledge and the producers of "20/20" from C. Joseph Stetler... president of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association... charging that a "20/20" Rivera segment Nov. 30 on prescription drugs was "highly inaccurate.. unbalanced and misleading."...

Rivera wrote Arledge yesterday that "Stetler's charges have absolutely no basis in fact (and are) a continuation of the PMA's decade-long campaign to slander generic drugs so that the public will be conned into unnecessary purchases of more expensive, but no more effective, brand and branded generic drugs"...

Informing Arledge that he's drafting a "point-by-point rebuttal of the Stetler letter"... Rivera said "it's not enough just to say that your (Arledge's) review indicates the story was fair and objective, etc.... our position, in my opinion, should be that not only were we 100 percent correct in our presentation of the facts, but that we haven't even finished our debunking of the PMA's generic drug smear campaign... i.e., we stand by our story absolutely and we've only just begun exposing the deceptive marketing techniques that have characterized the prescription drug industry and its pricing practices..."

Rivera signed his rocket to Arledge with a... "peace and love"....

And up in New York yesterday, the president of the New York branch of the Screen Actors Guild said that the nation's TV and radio advertisers could be compared to a man ordering three suits from his tailor and not paying for the second or third unless he wears them....

Going into the tenth day of a nationwide strike by SAG and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists against the makers of commercials, Larry Keith pointed out that one of the contract issues is whether performers can be asked to make alternate versions of a commercial for a single fee....

For 25 years, the commercial-makers have been paying actors extra money for those additional versions....

John McGuinn, negotiator for the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers, believes that a fee for a shooting session entitles an advertiser to a day's work and that extra pay should not be required for unused alternate scenes "that wind up on the cutting-room floor."...

Our Holiday Special

We keep hearing that they're getting nervous at NBC and CBS again as reports float around mid-Manhattan that ABC has a good chance of snatching two more strong major-market TV affiliates from one of those networks sometime after the first of the year....

ABC, now up to 200 affiliates, is zeroing in on rival network affiliates that have strong local news operations... usually a key to the highest ratings in a given TV market....

CBS has 200-plus affiliates and NBC about 210, at the latest, informal count... but ABC has picked up some 15 from both of them in recent years as its prime-time operation moved into first place....

Which kind of reminds us, ABC will have a three-hour "Elvis"... which the network is calling the "dramatic story of an American hero (and) an affectionate and revealing film biography of Elvis Presley"... on Sunday night, Feb. 11....

As we've reported before, Kurt Russell plays Elvis; Kurt's father, Bing, plays Elvis' father, Vernon; Shelley Winters is Elvis' mom and Pat Hingle plays Col. Tom Parker....

And Finally

WGBH in Boston has announced that "on the advice of his doctors, Arthur Fiedler will not conduct the Boston Pops Orchestra in the annual 'New Year's Eve at Pops' although he is recovering well from recent surgery."...

Instead, assistant conductor Harry Ellis Dickson will conduct the first part of that night's program, including Jose Greco's performance of Ravel's "Bolero" and special guest Mitch Miller will conduct the second half to lead the audience in one of his sing-a-longs... And have a Happy New Year, TV Column fans....