Now Here's the News
The networks tried real hard Sunday night to outdo each other with some special programming and when the dust (and sleaze. And shootups. And face lifts) had cleared, NBC and CBS wound up in a tie for first and ABC trailed badly, according to Nielsen overnight ratings in its top 10 markets . . .
The network premiere of Sylvester Stallone's "First Blood" on NBC and the TV movie "Malice in Wonderland" on CBS both averaged a 19.3 Nielsen rating and a 30 percent audience share . . .
Part one of ABC's "A Death in California" trailed with a 16.3/25 in the 10 big cities . . .
Washington, which has been exposed to "First Blood" on cable systems in the past, clearly preferred CBS' version of the Louella Parsons-Hedda Hopper rivalry starring Liz Taylor, as it averaged an 18.7/31 on WDVM, compared with a 16.0/26 for "Death in California" on WJLA and a poor 14.5/24 for "First Blood" on WRC . . .
NBC News, which has been on a promotional kick for months now, came up with a new wrinkle yesterday when president Larry Grossman revealed that the "Today" morning show will do a live, one-hour prime-time special on Monday, Aug. 26 . . .
"Today" has been nibbling at the heels of "Good Morning America" for the last couple of months now -- even beating the ABC show a couple of times -- so as an advertising tool, the prime-time showcase isn't a bad idea. Even the average prime-time audience on an evening in late August should be about three times the size of the average morning-show crowd and just might switch some allegiances in the process . . .
Steve Friedman, executive producer of "Today," said the special would include segments on a newsmaker, a human-interest story and travel. It would also update some stories "Today" has broken in recent months . . .
He admitted the prime-time outing amounted to self-promotion. "It's a pat on the back for a good year," he said. "It's also a showcase for the guys he means coanchors Jane Pauley and Bryant Gumbel , a 'Best of Today' and a look at the future" . . .
Actually, "GMA" anchor David Hartman has privately felt for some time that when his early morning show is hitting on all cylinders, the "best of" a solid five-morning run would be a considerable cut above the usual prime-time fare at least one night a week -- but he's had no success selling the idea to ABC executives . . .
Grossman, speaking to the NBC affiliates meeting in Los Angeles this week, also announced yesterday that the title for Roger Mudd's new magazine show will be "America's Almanac" (I don't know how the affiliates took to the new title, but methinks Ben Franklin would have loved it) . . .
As reported previously, the one-hour program will start monthly appearances in August and will become a weekly series in January, the Nielsen ratings willing . . .
Grossman also announced that "Time Out," a series of eight new monthly one-hour after-school NBC News specials directed at children, will air on the network, probably starting in October . . .
NBC correspondents will cover news involving children on "Time Out," which apparently will replace the "Special Treat" series now periodically on the schedule . . . Also in the News
Actress Selma Diamond, who played a wisecracking court matron in the NBC series "Night Court," died yesterday of lung cancer at the age of 64 . . .
A spokeswoman for Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles said she entered the hospital in critical condition on May 1 and that friends and television executives remained with her until her death. She had no known close relatives . . .
A spokesman for NBC yesterday said funeral arrangements were pending and that no decision had been reached about continuing Miss Diamond's role in the series, which has been renewed for next season . . .
Miss Diamond played Selma Hacker on the show and -- a heavy smoker herself -- was often seen with a cigarette hanging from her mouth in the role . . .
She had a long career in the movies, on stage and in TV and was once a writer for the Milton Berle show . . .
Her movie credits include "My Favorite Year," "All of Me" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" . . .
She appeared on the stage in "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Barefoot in the Park," among other productions . . . Wait, There's More
A report in yesterday's TV Digest said the CBS television network last year had pretax profits of $280 million on gross revenues of $2.24 billion, compared to ABC's profit of $260 million on revenues of $2.64 billion and NBC's $100 million on revenues of $1.93 billion . . .
ABC's five owned TV stations made $140 million on $455 million in revenues, compared to $115 million on $340 million for NBC and $110 million on $330 million for CBS . . .
All three networks have stations in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. In addition, ABC has outlets in San Francisco and Detroit; NBC, in Washington and Cleveland; and CBS, in St. Louis and Philadelphia . . .
Revenues and profits for all three networks were up from 1983 figures . . .
Network officials routinely will not confirm the annual TV Digest figures, which the newsletter says come from "reliable New York financial sources" . . .
CBS Sports yesterday announced it has signed another five-year contract with the U.S. Tennis Association for broadcast rights to the U.S. Open, starting next year . . .
When the network carries 36.5 hours of Open tennis in late summer this year, between Aug. 27 and Sept. 8, it will be concluding 18 straight years of what is now called Open tennis . . .
A natural lead-in, that, to the news that Steve Kanaly, who plays Ray Krebbs on "Dallas," and Tim Reid, Downtown Brown on "Simon and Simon," were due to play in "The 13th annual informal doubles round-robin invitational tournament" (a.k.a. "The CBS/Tennis Invitational") last night out at the Arlington Y Tennis and Squash Club . . .
They were joining about 60 doubles players who also included about 20 congressmen, plus CBS executives and on-air talent, and high government officials . . .
Defending champions were Rep. John McKernan (R-Maine) and FCC commissioner Henry Rivera, who last year defeated CBS chairman and chief executive officer Thomas H. Wyman and his partner, FBI director William Webster, in the finals . . .
"Reading Rainbow," which is aimed primarily at children between the ages of 5 and 8, will return to PBS next year for a third season, thanks to funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public TV stations and B. Dalton Bookseller . . .
The $2 million total from the three underwriters will fund five new shows this season and five more next year, to be added to the current list of 20 programs in the series . . .
"Reading Rainbow" recently won an Ohio State Award in the Performing Arts and Humanities category . . . And Finally
This curious footnote to last week's clemency hearing for Gary Dotson, whose sentence for a 1977 rape in Illinois was commuted by Gov. James R. Thompson on Sunday, although Thompson said he was "satisfied Dotson was proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt at his 1979 trial" . . . despite testimony from Dotson's accuser that she had originally fabricated the rape charge . . .
One of five witnesses called at the hearings to confirm alibis for Dotson said he couldn't possibly have committed the July 9, 1977, crime because she "distinctly remembered" that while she was fixing a dinner of Polish sausage for Dotson, "The Love Boat" was on TV between 8:30 and 9 p.m. (Central Standard Time) that Saturday night . . .
A state law enforcement official subsequently testified at the hearing that he had checked with the network and learned that "The Love Boat" had not premiered on ABC until the night of Sept. 24, 1977 . . .