Now Here's the News

The Sunday night debut of "North and South" on ABC made a strong showing during its two-hour run, according to overnights in 12 major Nielsen markets . . . but ABC still finished third for the night in those 12 cities behind CBS and NBC . . .

"North and South" averaged a 24.4 rating and a 36 percent audience share from 9 to 11 p.m. But during those same two hours, the TV debut of "48 Hrs." on NBC was close behind with a 22.7/33, while CBS' "Crazy Like a Fox" and "Trapper John, M.D." averaged a 13.8/20 in the 12 markets . . .

Locally, interest in the ABC mini-series was considerably higher. It averaged a 29.4/43 on Channel 7. That 43 share tied Philadelphia as the highest among the big cities . . .

Sunday winner CBS got off to a roaring start for the evening with "60 Minutes," and the network's audiences went even higher for "Murder, She Wrote" from 8 to 9. NBC's full hour of "Amazing Stories" at 8 did a 20.0/28, a considerable improvement for the Spielberg series . . .

In case teacher asks you for an essay on the 12 Nielsen overnight markets this afternoon, your crib notes should read: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston, Detroit, Dallas, Washington, Houston plus recent arrivals on the list, Miami and Denver, which rank about 14th and 19th, respectively, among TV markets . . .

President Reagan's decision to address a joint session of Congress on Thursday night, Nov. 21, at 9, following the summit meeting in Geneva, has thrown a small monkey wrench into ABC's plans to hit the air running with its new "Dynasty II: The Colbys" . . .

On Wednesday, Nov. 20, a regular "Dynasty" at 9 is to be followed with the premiere of "Dynasty II: The Colbys" at 10. Originally, the next night at 9, "Colbys" was to have been introduced in its regular 9 p.m. time slot . . .

The Wednesday premiere still stands but Thursday, Nov. 21, will now be "Colby-less" . . .

Instead, ABC will now air a double-header again on Wednesday, Nov. 27, starting with a "special edition" of "The Colbys" at 9 that night followed by "Dynasty" at 10 p.m. . . .

Then, finally, at 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 28, the official "time period premiere" for "The Colbys" will get under way, if we can all stand it . . . Election Night Plans

It's that time again . . .

Northern Virginia's enterprising Channel 56 will go live for three hours tonight starting at 8 with the state's vote results, including General Assembly balloting . . .

In the matter of the four local stations with news shows, all plan remotes from Richmond, the District and other election sites . . .

Channel 4 will begin its election story with the 5 p.m. news and will do cut-ins with results on the half hour during prime-time hours. WRC, however, will slide the NBC programming in each instance so viewers miss none of the shows. The 11 p.m. news will run to midnight . . .

At Channel 5, they'll be doing two-minute updates starting at 7 p.m., and during the 10 o'clock news will do live remotes from all points, including some Virginia precincts . . .

Channel 7 will do "limited cut-ins" during the evening but plans a "major early wrap-up," if results are firm enough, between 8 and 9. Seven is sticking with its half hour news show at 11 . . .

At Channel 9, they've commissioned an exit poll for the top three Virginia races -- for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general -- results of which will be announced "no later than 7:58 p.m." There will be live cut-ins also at 8:58 and 10:30 and "crawls throughout the night" (Airwaves hates crawls! Especially in the spooky parts of a movie!) . . .

While we're talking Local Stations, here's a short list of special series the news departments are planning to air during the rest of this November ratings sweeps period . . .

At Channel 4 this week, Lea Thompson is doing a series on dangerous products around the house and Susan King has "behind-the-scenes" segments about Vice President Bush . . .

Next week WRC takes a hard look at cab service, such as it is, in the District and Arch Campbell does a series on duffers' golf (including an outing with Bob Hope, who, after six holes with Arch, suggested he take up tennis) . . .

In the third week, Henry Tenenbaum will do a series on AIDS and Marjorie Margolies will report on her trip to South Korea with the young woman she adopted some 13 years ago to help her find her roots . . .

On Channel 5, they're doing a lighthearted "where-are-they-now?" series this week on former Redskins, area politicians and other personalities of the past. But the big ticket item, starting Nov. 20, will be a six- or seven-part series on parapsychology . . .

On Channel 7, Wes Sarginson is doing an eight-part series (one in the early news, another at 11 each night) about terrorism worries in Washington starting tonight through Friday. Otherwise, WJLA's new news director, Tom Doerr, has elected to downplay special sweeps month series (he scrapped a planned series on AIDS) while the newsroom gets settled in under new management . . .

Channel 9 is airing reporter Ellen Kingsley's story about her mastectomy this week as well as a series on preparations for the visit of the Royal Couple. Next week, there will be a three-part series on AIDS plus a look at why some marriages work and some don't and a portrait of the Marine Corps commander . . . In the third week, a hush-hush investigative report on a "major local problem" by Mark Feldstein will air. Meanwhile, J.C. Hayward has returned from California where she taped a bunch of interviews with TV stars, most of whom, we'd guess, are on CBS shows . . . Also in the News

Three local stations -- WTTG, WJLA and WDVM -- will begin airing a 30-second commercial today sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists that urges President Reagan to negotiate with the Soviet Union in the upcoming Geneva talks . . .

The ad will run in the Washington and New York markets through Friday. A second ad, still to be completed, will air during the week of the Summit, starting Nov. 18 . . .

In the ad, a self-described "working man with a bad haircut" tells the president: "Maybe the best thing you can do on November 19 is drop a bomb -- a verbal bomb, a real proposal to end the arms race. This summit is a chance to do something bold. Maybe something brave. And to waste it would be almost as tragic as dropping the bomb itself. So, for God's sake, sir, please don't blow it" . . .

WTTG will air the paid commercial adjacent to its news programs. WJLA will show it during "Nightline" and "Good Morning America," WDVM during "CBS Morning News" . . .

A spokesman for the Concerned Scientists said yesterday that the cost of the two commercials and placement of the ads will come to "between $50,000 and $75,000" . . .