Now Here's the News

Morton Dean, a fixture on CBS News for 17 years, said Friday "it's 99 percent certain" he'll be leaving the network at the end of the year to coanchor the syndicated Independent News (INN) . . . which is seen locally at 1:30 p.m. on Channel 20 and at 12:30 a.m. on Channel 45 in Baltimore. . .

CBS reportedly offered Dean, who currently anchors the Sunday night edition of "CBS Evening News," a four-year contract . . . but wanted him to leave the Sunday assignment to anchor the very early (6 to 7 a.m.) morning show "CBS Early Morning News" as part of the deal. . .

The network plans major revisions in both its very early show and "CBS Morning News" sometime this fall in still another attempt to become competitive in a three-hour time period currently owned by ABC news and entertainment programming. . .

In recent months, the anchor job on the "Early Morning News" has been split on a weekly basis between "Morning News" coanchor Bill Kurtis and whoever is sitting in for the departed Diane Sawyer. . .

In his INN job, Dean would anchor the 9:30 p.m. feed of the INN news show, which airs on more than 90 independent TV stations around the country, as well as the one-hour 10 p.m. news for WPIX in New York. . .

(INN has been known as the Independent Network News for some years but recently dropped the "network" from its title. In addition to the nightly news program, it provides a daytime service that increases its nationwide coverage to about 145 stations). . .

"I haven't signed," Dean said Friday, "but it's 99 percent certain. I'm really enthused and ready for the change". . .

Dean, who worked for CBS' WCBS in New York before joining the network, said he had just received notice that he was "up for my 20-year gold watch" from the network. . .

"I'm really going to miss many, many people here at CBS ," he said. . .

Over the years, Dean, an excellent writer, has established a reputation among his peers as a superior political and space program correspondent . . . while also serving as an anchor and a member of the "60 Minutes" team, among many assignments. . .

In the past, when executives at rival news divisions spoke of CBS News' awesome "bench strength," they meant the presence of talent like Morton Dean. . .

Howard Stringer, executive vice president of CBS News, said Friday that Dean's departure would represent "a great loss" to the network. "He's had an extraordinarily distinguished career. He reports well, writes well and anchors well". . .

Stringer said a major sticking point apparently was the loss of the Sunday night anchoring job, if Dean had accepted the early morning assignment. . .

Dean, who will coanchor the INN broadcast with Pat Harper, would replace Steve Bosh, who is now with the CBS affiliate in Dallas. . .

He reportedly would receive a raise, as well as a long-term contract, from INN, but neither Dean nor INN sources Friday would discuss the negotiations. . . Also in the News

It's academic locally -- the soap opera had already been dropped by the two area ABC affiliates (WJLA here and WJZ in Baltimore) -- but ABC announced Friday it is cancelling "The Edge of Night" as of the Dec. 28 broadcast. . .

The 28-year-old show, produced by Procter & Gamble, has been suffering from poor ratings for some time. . .

In the most recent weekly Nielsen ratings, "Edge" finished 23rd out of 26 daytime shows ranked nationally while averaging a scant 2.8 rating and a 9 percent share of the audience ("General Hospital," the top-rated show, did a 9.3/31 the same week). . .

The soaper was being cleared by fewer than 70 percent of the network's 210 stations . . . and except for the five ABC-owned stations, it was absent from the top 10 TV markets. . .

"Edge of Night" debuted on CBS in April 1956 and moved to ABC in 1975. . .

In an accompanying announcement (of interest Within the Industry, anyway), ABC said that in dropping "Edge" at 4 p.m., the network was reducing its current weekday schedule of 11 half-hours of programming to 10 half-hours, turning back the "Edge" half-hour to the affiliates for their own use . . . although the network said it hoped to develop another half-hour for the affiliates before 1985 is over. . .

After just a month, viewer response to the new prime-time shows in the 1984-85 season is already settling into definite patterns and the three networks are already reacting to those choices. . .

For instance, NBC has just ordered 12 more episodes (for a total of 25) of "The Cosby Show". . .

That Thursday night entry, which is taking a large bite out of CBS' "Magnum, P.I." audiences every week, is far and away the big, indeed, the only hit among the 21 shows introduced so far on all three networks (the jury's still out on No. 22, NBC's "V," which premiered Friday). . .

And CBS, which has already pulled the plug on "AfterMASH," has announced that "Dreams," a nightmare in the ratings so far, has been put to sleep as of Wednesday night's telecast . . . and will be replaced at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 by "E/R," which moves from Tuesday, where it's been comatose. . .

"AfterMASH" becomes an afterTHOUGHT following tomorrow night's broadcast. . .

So far CBS has not chosen replacements for the two Tuesday night entries, but has penciled in a couple of specials (next Tuesday, in case it's slipped your mind, is Election Night) to fill the 8-to-9 p.m. time slot, including a Donald Duck's 50th birthday special on Nov. 13 and Charlie Brown and Bugs Bunny Thanksgiving specials on Nov. 20. . .

Meanwhile, the network has announced that additional episodes of "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer" have been ordered. . .

And, in the matter of CBS' "Cover Up," whose costar Jon-Erik Hexum died recently after accidentally shooting himself in the head, Mr. Hexum's last appearance on the series will be seen this Saturday. . .

The series will then go on hiatus, probably until Nov. 24, as episodes featuring his replacement, Anthony Hamilton, go into production. . .

On Nov. 10, a second one-hour episode of "Mike Hammer" will air in place of "Cover Up," while the Nov. 17 replacement is still to be determined. . .

Hamilton will portray Jack Striker, an experienced agent who uses the male fashion model job as a cover. . .

Hamilton most recently was seen on TV in ABC's "Samson and Delilah." He played Samson. . .

In still more series news, NBC announces that Edward James Olmos is joining the cast of "Miami Vice" as Lt. Martin Castillo, the "intense, yet understanding" commanding officer of Dets. Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas). . .

Olmos replaces Gregory Sierra, who made the supreme sacrifice, as Lt. Lou Rodriguez, on the Oct. 19 show, throwing himself in front of a bullet intended for Crockett, because Sierra didn't like working in Miami, where the series is filmed. . .

Channel 20 will bring back a cartoon version of "Flash Gordon" in the 4:30 p.m. time slot starting next Monday. . .

And from our Do You Know Me? file: Two new associate producers have been named for "Nightwatch," which is produced at the CBS News bureau here. . .

Pamela Browne, who produced "Nightwatch" cohost Charlie Rose's Channel 4 talk show back in 1981-82, joins the show in mid-November. She has been recently working at KYW in Philadelphia. . .

Already aboard at "Nightwatch" is Donald A. (Andy) Purdy Jr., who most recently has been a consultant for NBC radio. . .

Meanwhile, "Nightwatch" associate producer Mary Fifield has moved to CBS' "Face the Nation" as an associate producer. . . reducing its current weekday schedule of 11 half-hours of programming to 10 half-hours, turning back the "Edge" half-hour to the affiliates for their own use . . . although the network said it hoped to develop another half-hour for the affiliates before 1985 is over. . .

After just a month, viewer response to the new prime-time shows in the 1984-85 season is already settling into definite patterns and the three networks are already reacting to those choices. . .

For instance, NBC has just ordered 12 more episodes (for a total of 25) of "The Cosby Show". . .

That Thursday night entry, which is taking a large bite out of CBS' "Magnum, P.I." audiences every week, is far and away the big, indeed, the only hit among the 21 shows introduced so far on all three networks (the jury's still out on No. 22, NBC's "V," which premiered Friday). . .

And CBS, which has already pulled the plug on "AfterMASH," has announced that "Dreams," a nightmare in the ratings so far, has been put to sleep as of Wednesday night's telecast . . . and will be replaced at 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 by "E/R," which moves from Tuesday, where it's been comatose. . .

"AfterMASH" becomes an afterTHOUGHT following tomorrow night's broadcast. . .

So far CBS has not chosen replacements for the two Tuesday night entries, but has penciled in a couple of specials (next Tuesday, in case it's slipped your mind, is Election Night) to fill the 8-to-9 p.m. time slot, including a Donald Duck's 50th birthday special on Nov. 13 and Charlie Brown and Bugs Bunny Thanksgiving specials on Nov. 20. . .

Meanwhile, the network has announced that additional episodes of "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer" have been ordered. . .

And, in the matter of CBS' "Cover Up," whose costar Jon-Erik Hexum died recently after accidentally shooting himself in the head, Mr. Hexum's last appearance on the series will be seen this Saturday. . .

The series will then go on hiatus, probably until Nov. 24, as episodes featuring his replacement, Anthony Hamilton, go into production. . .

On Nov. 10, a second one-hour episode of "Mike Hammer" will air in place of "Cover Up," while the Nov. 17 replacement is still to be determined. . .

Hamilton will portray Jack Striker, an experienced agent who uses the male fashion model job as a cover. . .

Hamilton most recently was seen on TV in ABC's "Samson and Delilah." He played Samson. . .

In still more series news, NBC announces that Edward James Olmos is joining the cast of "Miami Vice" as Lt. Martin Castillo, the "intense, yet understanding" commanding officer of Dets. Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas). . .

Olmos replaces Gregory Sierra, who made the supreme sacrifice, as Lt. Lou Rodriguez, on the Oct. 19 show, throwing himself in front of a bullet intended for Crockett, because Sierra didn't like working in Miami, where the series is filmed. . .

Channel 20 will bring back a cartoon version of "Flash Gordon" in the 4:30 p.m. time slot starting next Monday. . .

And from our Do You Know Me? file: Two new associate producers have been named for "Nightwatch," which is produced at the CBS News bureau here. . .

Pamela Browne, who produced "Nightwatch" cohost Charlie Rose's Channel 4 talk show back in 1981-82, joins the show in mid-November. She has been recently working at KYW in Philadelphia. . .

Already aboard at "Nightwatch" is Donald A. (Andy) Purdy Jr., who most recently has been a consultant for NBC radio. . .

Meanwhile, "Nightwatch" associate producer Mary Fifield has moved to CBS' "Face the Nation" as an associate producer. . .