Sunday night's premiere of "Hollywood Wives" did just about what ABC Entertainment expected, at least in the Nielsen overnights . . .
In the two hours from 9 to 11 p.m. in Nielsen's nine major markets, "Wives" averaged a 23.5 rating and a 36 percent audience share, compared with a 14.9/23 for "Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil" during the same two hours on NBC and a 13.5/21 for the CBS lineup for the two hours . . .
Advertisers had expected "Wives" to get a share in the mid-30s . . .
In Washington, "Wives" did a 21.2/32 on Channel 7, "Hitler" averaged a 16.2/25 on Channel 4 and the CBS shows did a 15.6/24 on Channel 9 . . .
Complete, three-hour figures for the "Hitler" run were unavailable yesterday . . .
ABC will need the good "Hollywood Wives" numbers for this week's ratings. Its "Challenge of a Lifetime," starring Penny Marshall as a triathlon contestant, could muster only an 8.8/13 in the national ratings durings its two-hour outing Thursday night . . .
In the interest of domestic tranquility, TV Column fans, there will be absolutely no smoking in the breakfast nook during this next item (Gran, will you douse the cigar, please? Thank you. Watch out! You're getting ashes in little Leroy's gruel!) . . .
Last Thursday afternoon, before an audience of about 50 at the CBS News bureau here . . . George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, in his role as executive director of the antismoking Action on Smoking and Health group, faced off in a debate against Ernest van der Haag, a pro-smoker who is professor of jurisprudence and public policy at Fordham University . . .
It was for last Monday morning's edition of "Nightwatch," part of a regular segment, a one-hour "Night Match" debate on pressing public issues, seen every Monday a.m. . . .
The two debaters stood at separate lecterns. Banzhaf, who has had a major role in promoting anti-smoking campaigns around the country -- including getting anti-smoking public service announcements on the air -- led off the debate with a two-minute state- ment . . .
But as he finished, Van der Haag lit up a cigar . . .
According to "Nightwatch" executive producer John Huddy, Banzhaf, suddenly angered, told the audience that "my opponent is breaking the D.C. law right now," picked up his "Nightwatch" coffee mug, filled with water, walked over and doused Van der Haag's cigar, which was sitting in an ashtray (Banzhaf said yesterday that Van der Haag, despite his objections, had lit up a cigar before the broadcast and so Banzhaf had come prepared) . . .
The 70-year-old Van der Haag then picked up the ashtray, according to Banzhaf, and threw it at him, just missing a cameraman. As it smashed against the wall, he set out after Banzhaf, flailing his arms. . . .
Moderator Charlie Rose, who had been standing off camera, made his move to separate the professors but got tangled up in his audio cord. . .
Meanwhile, the 43-year-old Banzhaf backed off, saying, "I don't want to hit an old man," and the two went back to their lecterns, still smoldering . . .
Minutes later, Van der Haag started to light up another cigar, but this time Rose stepped in and asked that it not be lit. Van der Haag responded, "So sue me," but did not light up . . .
The two professors resumed the debate, although Huddy said yesterday they continued to snipe at each other all during the broadcast, on and off the air . . .
Banzhaf said yesterday, "Just think how it might have been if we'd been debating Goetz and guns!" . . .
Van der Haag was unavailable for comment yesterday . . .
"Nightwatch" plans to rerun a portion of the exciting "Great Smoking Debate" on next Monday morning's telecast . . .
The breakfast nook smoking lamp is lit, TV Column fans . . . as we move to the next . . . Exciting Item
To wit: ABC has killed "Street Hawk" and will revamp its Friday night lineup, as of March 15, with four comedies, leading up to "Matt Houston" at 10 p.m. . . .
Loser in the shuffle, aside from "Street Hawk," of course, is "Benson," which will be moved from its safe 8 p.m. time slot to 9 p.m., against the first half of CBS' "Dallas" . . .
The new lineup will start with "Webster" at 8, followed by "Mr. Belvedere," a takeoff on the old Clifton Webb-as-babysitter movie, "Benson" and then "Off the Rack," the Ed Asner-Eileen Brennan sitcom about the New York garment trade . . .
The revised sitcom lineup will get a one-month tryout. Beyond that, ABC is threatening to bring back "Street Hawk" later in the year . . .
In the most recent weekly ratings, "Street Hawk" finished in a tie for 50th, "Benson" tied for 31st and "Webster" was 27th . . .
Lark McCarthy, who has been handling the news on the aforementioned "Nightwatch" for CBS, will return from a three-week vacation to become a general assignment reporter at CBS' Washington bureau . . .
McCarthy has also been doing the network's "News Briefs" at 9:58 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights . . .
No permanent replacement for McCarthy on "Nightwatch" has been chosen, as Sam Ford and Bill Lynch fill in during her absence . . .
Olympic hurdler Edwin Moses will appear on "CBS Morning News" during the first hour of the Wednesday telecast . . . Also in the News
Representatives of the three networks and major independent sports producers met in New York last week concerning the future of the Sports Emmys, which have been on hold because of disputes involving the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, sponsors of the annual event . . .
We've learned that participants have decided to scrap entirely the 1983-84 Sports Emmys (covering the period of July 1983 through July 1984), which should have been awarded last fall . . .
NATAS hasn't okayed the proposal but the participants in last week's meeting also agreed that a third party should be brought in to administer the upcoming awards . . .
In fact, the participants don't even want NATAS to hold the annual awards dinner this time around, much less handle a Sports Emmy telecast, should one be set up this year (we have a hunch that ABC, proud of its Olympic coverage and a sure winner of lots of Emmys, might be interested in such a program) . . .
The West Coast-based Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) split from the New York-based NATAS a few years ago and took the lucrative prime-time Emmys awards with it, leaving NATAS with Sports, Daytime and News Emmy awards . . .
All three of the latter have since fallen on bad days -- basically because of disputes regarding NATAS' judging methods -- while ATAS has proved it can administer awards programs . . .
Just two weeks ago, with NATAS approval, a move was made toward getting the two organizations together again when ATAS agreed to revive the Daytime Emmy Awards . . .
Now, if ATAS will take over the Sports Emmys in time for the '84-'85 awards, there's even talk that the News Emmys may get a chance on television again, too, if the impartial third-party idea takes hold . . . and is solved to everybody's satisfaction . . .