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NBC, probably surprising itself, won the big Sunday May sweeps shootout over CBS and ABC thanks to a good performance from "First Blood," a theatrical movie that had been on cable systems all over the country for several years . . .

Widely exposed movies aren't supposed to do well on the networks anymore (CBS isn't going to buy them anymore, for instance), but the Sylvester Stallone story of a very tough Vietnam vet finished fifth in the weekly ratings, beating CBS' Sunday entry, "Malice in Wonderland" (10th) and Part I of the ABC mini-series "A Death in California," which could do no better than a three-way tie for 22nd . . .

"First Blood's" showing, plus the final episode of the season of "The Cosby Show," not only put NBC in first place for the week, but gave the network a big leg up in the May ratings sweeps race, so dear to the bank accounts of local affiliates' ad salesmen everywhere . . .

For the week ending May 12, NBC was first with a 14.6 Nielsen rating and a 25 percent share of the prime-time audience, compared with a 13.8/24 for CBS and a 13.0/22 for ABC . . .

After 12 nights of the May sweeps, Arbitron has NBC in front with a 14.5/25, compared with CBS' 13.9/24 and ABC's 12.7/22 . . . After 11 nights in the Nielsen May count, NBC led with a 14.4/24, CBS was close behind with a 14.2/24 and ABC trailed at 12.6/22 . . .

In other highlights during the week ending May 12, ABC's "99 Ways to Attract the Right Man" was 37th and "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer," which CBS says won't be back on the air next year unless it finishes second to the rerun competition at 10 p.m. Saturdays this late spring, once again finished third that night, behind the ABC movie "Letting Go" and "Hunter" on NBC . . . "Mike" was also 53rd for the week . . .

The "Trivial Pursuit" game on ABC was 55th, the American Film Institute salute to Gene Kelly on CBS was 57th, and a CBS movie about Olympic skiing champ Bill Johnson finished in a tie for 60th . . . Also in the News

It's been a good week for Jan-Michael Vincent. First, CBS renewed his "Airwolf" series for next fall and yesterday he was found innocent of a misdemeanor battery charge involving a brawl last June in a Malibu cocktail lounge . . .

A Municipal Court jury in that California seaside town deliberated only a few hours before acquitting him . . .

A man hit by the actor was seriously injured in the dispute . . .

NBC's "Today" show and ABC's "Good Morning America" yesterday were competing shamelessly for the chance to televise the first public meeting of Cathleen Crowell Webb and Gary Dotson, principal figures in the Illinois rape recant case . . .

Late yesterday, "GMA" said it would air an interview with the pair sometime after 7:30 this morning, after Dotson and Webb finish a joint appearance on "Today" . . .

"Today," however, was only "pretty sure" it had the pair lined up for a 7:09 appearance . . .

"CBS Morning News," meanwhile, says that although it approached the couple several weeks ago and again, unsuccessfully, during the past weekend regarding an appearance, it is no longer interested . . .

Jon Katz, executive producer of the CBS show, said yesterday he considered the MOVE story out of Philadelphia to be "much more important," referring to the bombing by police of a radical stronghold that touched off a fire that destroyed nearly 60 homes Monday night in that city . . .

Katz added, however, that "it's possible there could be a change by the morning" . . .

The late, if tentative, announcements last night followed some bizarre manuevers that began Monday night when the NBC network aired promos saying that Webb was due to appear on the "Today" show Tuesday morning . . .

But when producers of the NBC morning show could not guarantee Dotson's appearance, too, Webb was not interviewed . . .

Thus again yesterday, "Today" was holding out for a joint appearance by the two even as a spokesman, suggesting that Dotson "is scared and doesn't want to turn it all into a circus," hesitated to make any guarantees about this morning's show, although Webb has been hidden away by NBC somewhere in the New York area so " 'GMA' can't reach her" . . .

But reach her "GMA" did, apparently. From the first yesterday, "GMA" was sure that Dotson, flying in from Chicago last night, would appear during the second half-hour of the show this morning and, said a spokesman, "we are hoping to get her and if we get both they'll appear together" . . .

All three network morning shows, incidentally, denied vehemently that Dotson and Webb would be paid anything, although both would be provided air fares, hotel rooms and limousine service while in New York . . .

Dotson served six years in prison after being convicted of raping Webb -- an act she now insists never took place. Dotson's 25-to-50-year sentence was commuted Sunday by Gov. James R. Thompson . . .

Winners Monday night of the 13th annual CBS/Tennis Invitational doubles tournament out in Arlington were Sens. George J. Mitchell (D-Maine) and J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), who defeated, 9-7, the doubles team of Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.) and Eddie Fritts, president of the National Association of Broadcasters . . .

Speaking of victories, the PBS documentary series "Frontline With Judy Woodruff" caps a rare hat trick among prestigious journalism awards this Thursday when it picks up the Grand Prize in the annual Robert F. Kennedy Journalism awards for coverage of the nation's disadvantaged . . .

"Frontline" has previously won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University and George Foster Peabody broadcast journalism awards this year . . .

NBC announced yesterday that "Saturday Night Live" will return late next fall for its 11th season . . .

The glory days of John Belushi, Bill Murray and Eddie Murphy on the show are long gone. The most recent cast of characters averaged a 7.4 Nielsen rating and a 23 percent audience share last season, compared with a 7.4/22 in 1983-84 . . .

Monday night, the May sweeps battle continued on all three networks . . .

The conclusion of "A Death in California" on ABC showed improved ratings in the 10 major Nielsen markets, averaging a 19.7 rating and a 30 percent audience share (including a 16.8/28 on WJLA here) . . . compared with a 15.5/24 for the Miss USA Pageant on CBS (worth a 16.2/27 on WDVM) and a 13.3/20 for "Peyton Place: The Next Generation" on NBC, including an 11.7/19 on WRC here . . .

Jim Lynagh, president of Multimedia Broadcasting in Cincinnati, yesterday was reelected chairman of the NBC Television Network Affiliate Board of Directors. He has been chairman for one term and a board member since 1979 . . .

At one time, Lynagh was vice president and general manager of Channel 9 here, when then-WTOP was owned by Post-Newsweek Stations . . .

Sid Feders, who has been special segment producer for NBC News in New York, has been named one of two senior producers for the upcoming NBC magazine show, tentatively titled either "America's Almanac" (which is what the network is calling it) or "American Almanac," (which is what NBC News president Larry Grossman called it Monday when he introduced the show's anchor, Roger Mudd, to NBC affiliates out in L.A.) . . .