They broke out the champagne at ABC yesterday. For the second time this summer, the basement-dwelling network had managed to finish in a tie for second place in the primetime ratings . . .
At NBC, which had won or tied for first the previous 13 summer weeks in a row, they were taking off their "Juggernaut" buttons and a short practice roller towel alert was held in all executive washrooms. The one-time House of Hits had fallen to third place for the week ending Sept. 1 . . .
At first place CBS, which had tied NBC for first just last week, there were only smug smiles all around (well, there were a couple of noontime toasts at 21 Club, too) . . .
The actual count: CBS with a 12.0 rating and a 22 percent audience share, followed by ABC with an 11.9/22 and NBC at 11.6/21 . . .
Pre-season ABC Monday Night Football, armed with a much better lineup of teams this year, helped again last week, as did the contnuing good Tuesday night peformances of "Moonlighting" and "Who's the Boss?" (and if you use that "daylighting" joke again, Airwaves, we'll scream) . . .
The second episode of CBS' "Hometown" slipped from a premie re week 23rd to a tie for 30th, while the network's short-run "I Had Three Wives" was 31st . . .
The Houston-Dallas NFL game on CBS was 49th and the San Francisco-Seattle NFL game on NBC tied for 50th . . . Speaking of Sports
Warner Wolf, the one-time Channel 9 sportcaster who made it big in New York, is returning to the "CBS Morning News" starting tomorrow . . .
Wolf's renewing his regular Friday appearances on the show, which ceased during the winter when he complained that the early Friday appearances on the network were too much, considering his nightly segments on WCBS . . .
And while we're in the Sports Arena, TV Column fans, Channel 20 announces it will carry the University of Maryland-Boston College football game out of Boston on Saturday, Sept. 14, starting at noon . . .
And CBS Sports yesterday signed Jim Nantz, sports anchor at KSL in Salt Lake City, to anchor its Saturday college football pregame show . . .
Blaine Baggett, former creative director at PBS here and producer of last spring's four-part "Space Flight" series for that network, has joined KCET in Los Angeles as executive producer, public affairs . . .
Jim Miklaszewski, who has been a correspondent with CNN the last five years, will join the NBC News bureau here Sept. 23, splitting duties between the Pentagon and general assignment . . .
The reason you haven't been hearing Jeffrey Osborne on WJLA's "Seven on Your Side" promotions lately is that the station decided the $20,000 it would have cost to renew the popular singer's option for a second year was a little much (WJLA, like everybody else in the business, has been hit with a very soft advertizing market recently) . . .
That slump, incidentally, is one of the reasons cutbacks were ordered at ABC and CBS. As we mentioned yesterday, CBS News has been asked to cut 100 people from its payroll, part of a company-wide budget cut that has been ordered in face of the advertising slowdown and, in CBS' case, the added costs of fighting off Ted Turner's takeover attempt this past summer, including the huge stock buy-back ordered by management . . .
Tuesday, CBS Inc. chairman Tom Wyman announced that the company is offering early retirement to about 2,000 employes as part of the overall budget strategy -- and that may lower the number of casualties at CBS News when the division finally makes its personnel cuts later this month . . .
Last week the three nightly network news shows were without their regular anchors. In the process, "ABC World News Tonight Without Peter Jennings," but with Ted Koppel at the helm, scored a 10.4 rating and a 22 share, just behind "CBS Evening News Tonight Without Dan Rather," but with Bob Schieffer, which scored a 10.9/23. "NBC Nightly News Without Tom Brokaw," but with Roger Mudd, trailed with 8.8/18 . . .
That's the closest ABC News has been to CBS News since the week of -- are you sitting down? -- Sept. 19, 1982!!! . . . Well
We said it was only "a cursory glance at the current call letters in use around the country," for gosh sakes . . .
Captain Airwaves' Brainwave yesterday, suggesting Gannett, when the sale of WDVM to Gannett goes through, might want to change Channel 9's call letters to WUSA (because the call letters aren't currently in use, and because Gannett owns USA Today) turned out to be a very short Airwaves Brainwave, indeed . . .
Airwaves had used the reliable, but by now, slightly dated 1985 Broadcasting Yearbook's list of call-letters-in-use on which to base his Brainwave. Unfortunately for Airwaves, Gannett had changed the call letters of its Minneapolis station -- an NBC affiliate -- from WTCN to WUSA this past July 4th . . .
On July 4th, of course, Airwaves was at his top secret research laboratory high in the Rocky Mountain West (the breakfast nook airbag experiment has suffered another serious setback, TV Column fans, but that's a story for another day) leading the annual Fourth of July revels on the headquarters picnic grounds, which always include a parade, barbecue, patriotic speeches, and, in the evening, fireworks . . .
He had left strict orders not to be disturbed unless WTCN changed its call letters to WUSA. Additional heads, you may be assured, will soon roll at the top secret Airwaves Research Laboratory (Cookie, who did the steaks, was let go in August after he had recovered from his fall into the still-smoldering pit during the fireworks display).