Now Here's the News
No one was injured and damages were held to about $40,000 in that early Monday morning fire in the office of the Washington "Today" producer out at the NBC News bureau on Nebraska Avenue . . .
But lost in the blaze were "two huge Rolodexes" containing all those priceless, irreplaceable private telephone numbers "Today" bookers use to contact important Washington figures for appearances on the morning program . . . the very heart of any network news/interview show operation . . .
Producer Margie Lehrman said yesterday that she had lost "6 1/2 years of numbers. I planned this summer to feed them into a computer but we were so busy we just never got around to it" . . .
Lehrman said "people are sifting through the ashes and all the water-soaked debris, looking for cards. We've found a few and we're trying to dry them out" . . .
Lehrman said she began collecting the numbers when she first joined the early-morning show as a researcher . . .
"People all over NBC not connected with 'Today' call me for those numbers. I should have had them insured" . . .
She said the loss of the numbers won't affect bookings over the next couple of days but after that it's going to be tough. "I'll just have to start all over again," she said. Lehrman said the planning calendars for upcoming "Today" shows also went up in smoke . . .
Lehrman also suffered a personal loss in the blaze: six hours of audio cassettes comprising an autobiography of her father she had been painstakingly compiling in recent years . . .
According to an NBC spokesman, the fire, which may have started in a TV monitor, entirely destroyed Lehrman's office, damaged an adjacent office and caused "some smoke damage" in a nearby hallway . . .
Three pieces of D.C. firefighting equipment handled the blaze, which broke out in first-floor offices in the southeast corner of the Channel 4/NBC News bureau building near the National Presbyterian Center . . . Also in the News
CBS will air three advisories tonight during "Murder: By Reason of Insanity" that will state, in part, that the movie "is not intended to be a general reflection of the mentally ill, the vast majority of whom never commit a violent act. Indeed, they are not more prone to violence than the non-mentally disordered" . . .
According to a CBS spokesman yesterday, the network's standards and practices unit had given the program close scrutiny several weeks ago, but recently the network was approached by several mental health organizations that "had expressed concern that viewers might misconstrue the violence in the movie -- based on a true story -- as a broad statement about the mentally ill" . . .
After consultation with "several mental health professionals," the spokesman said, the advisory was prepared. It will appear tonight at the beginning, at the first break and at the conclusion of the movie . . .
The loyalty of Washington Redskins fans continues to amaze . . .
Despite the beautiful fall weather Sunday, nearly 40 percent of the area's 1.5 million TV homes were still watching the Redskins-Chicago Bears blowout when the teams headed for the locker rooms at half time . . .
And by the end of the game, 25 percent of the market (and 53 percent of the sets-in-use) was still tuned in, despite the lopsided 45-10 verdict, which had been decided before the second-half kickoff . . .
The game averaged a 35.2 Nielsen rating and a 68 percent audience share from 1 until 4:15 p.m. on Channel 9. The ratings rose to 39.5 at half time. By the end of the game they were down to 25.7 . . .
The Miami-Denver game at 4 p.m. on Channel 4 averaged an 18.2/42, by comparison . . . Along the Ratings Rialto
The First Week of the New Season having just concluded, with the futures of several network executives and several of the series they picked for the fall already on the line, here's a look at some of the bigger weekend battles . . . as registered in Nielsen's 10 major markets . . .
On Friday night, CBS at 8 got a nice surprise when "Twilight Zone" won its time period handily over "Webster" and "Mr. Belvedere" on ABC and "Knight Rider" on NBC . . .
In the battle of the biggies, the two-hour "Dallas" premiere averaged a 23.3/36, just edging the two-hour "Miami Vice" premiere on NBC . . . 23.3/36 to 22.1/35 . . .
This left ABC's one-hour "Diff'rent Strokes" with an indifferent 10.5/16 and "Spenser: For Hire" with an emaciated 7.6/12, which suggests Spenser may really be for hire sooner than either Spenser or ABC had planned . . .
For the night, CBS had a 21.3/34, NBC a 19.0/31 and ABC a 10.7/17 . . .
Saturday night, NBC's 8-to-10 comedy block carried the evening . . . as "Gimme a Break" and "Facts of Life," averaging a 17.2/31, buried CBS' "Airwolf" (10.3/18) and ABC's "Hollywood Beat" (8.9/16) . . .
At 9, "The Golden Girls" and "227," with a combined 18.3/31, took the edge off the first half of "National Lampoon's Vacation" on CBS and ABC's "Lime Street," which had a sour 12.0/21 . . .
But "Lampoon" took the 10-to-11 time period, leading ABC's "Love Boat" and NBC's "Hunter" by a slight margin . . .
For the night, NBC prevailed with a 16.6/29 in the 10 Nielsen cities, followed by CBS at 13.1/23 and ABC at 12.0/21 . . .
On Sunday, CBS continued its regular-season reign, easily winning the evening over NBC and an outclassed ABC . . .
Old reliable "60 Minutes" clobbered the competition in the first hour with double the ratings of the holdover sitcoms on NBC and "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" on ABC . . .
And in the most carefully watched battle of the evening, between 8 and 9, the return of CBS' "Murder, She Wrote" beat both the debut of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," NBC's new anthology series in that hour . . .
"Murder" averaged a 23.1/35 against "Amazing Stories' " 22.1/33 and a 24.8/36 against a 19.3/28 for "Hitchcock." Meanwhile, the debut of "MacGyver" on ABC that hour averaged a slim 10.6/16 . . .
"Amos" on CBS then put them away with a 24.6/35 average, compared with a 19.3/28 for "First Blood," the Rambo movie on NBC, and a 17.9/26 for "Tootsie" on ABC . . .
For the four hours, CBS averaged a 24.6/35, NBC a 19.3/28 and ABC a 17.9/26 . . . Also in the News
Media General Cable in Fairfax County today will launch "The Discovery Channel" on its Channel 96 . . .
TDC, based in Washington, provides family-oriented programming in the fields of science, technology, history, nature, "people and places" and adventure . . .
TDC now has some 2 million potential cable customers around the country. Media General serves some 75,000 in Northern Virginia . . .
Channel 4, like Channel 7, has rejected a public service announcement on sexual harassment funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers union . . .
Like Seven, Four turned down the 30-second spot featuring Vicki Lawrence on the grounds that the station accepts PSAs only from nonprofit organizations . . .
Both Five and Nine, meanwhile, are still mulling a decision whether to run the spot . . .
CBS Sports revealed yesterday that its 1985-86 college basketball schedule will include the Georgetown-St. John's game at 2 p.m. on Jan. 11 and Georgetown vs. Louisiana State University at noon Feb. 2 . . .
CBS' 28-game schedule, which is still not completed, will begin Nov. 30 with Georgia Tech-Michigan . . .
Burton (Bud) Benjamin, a 29-year veteran of CBS News, has elected to take early retirement from the network at the end of November and will join the Gannett Center for Media Studies at Columbia University in March as a senior fellow . . .
Benjamin, taking advantage of a special early retirement plan offered by CBS management this fall, has had a distinguished career at the network, producing many documentaries and serving as executive producer of "CBS Evening News" from 1975 to 1978 . . .
Most recently he has been senior executive producer and is perhaps best known for "The Benjamin Report," his 1984 internal investigation of the News division's procedures -- which he found wanting -- in preparing the controversial CBS documentary "The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception" . . .
During his six-month stay at the Gannett Center, Benjamin will write a book, tentatively titled "To Be or Not to Be -- Fair," a study of media fairness . . .