Now Here's the News

Despite a carefully orchestrated publicity campaign by its producers, the Monday night episode of "Cagney & Lacey," dealing with the abortion issue, did poorly in the national Nielsen ratings . . .

For its time period, it finished third, well behind NBC's "An Early Frost" and the Denver-San Francisco football game on ABC . . .

"An Early Frost," a two-hour drama about a family that learns their lawyer son is a homosexual when he contracts AIDS, averaged a 23.3 Nielsen rating and a 33 percent audience share around the country. The NFL game did a 19.9/32 while the "Cagney & Lacey" episode, deemed unfair by prolife organizations, did a 15.1/23 . . .

Locally, the football game averaged a 22.5/36 between 10 and 11, while "An Early Frost" averaged a 21.0/32 and the "Cagney & Lacey" episode a 12.4/19 . . .

As Channel Nine reported that night, about a dozen anti-abortion advocates picketed the Brandywine Street studios of the CBS affiliate during the telecast . . .

Elsewhere, some 200 pickets were outside the CBS Studios in Hollywood. One CBS affiliate, WXVT in Greenville, Miss., refused to carry the episode . . .

The network reported receiving about 100 phone calls protesting the episode prior to the telecast . . .

Meanwhile, NBC reported that hotlines set up around the country following the AIDS drama received "hundreds of inquiries" . . .

CBS' Tuesday night venture into Cowboyland proved to be something of a disaster . . . at least in the 12 big urban markets where Nielsen takes overnight surveys . . .

Them city slickers gave the one-hour Part I of "North Beach and Rawhide" a 7.2 rating and an 11 share, while the usually popular Kenny Rogers in the two-hour "Wild Horses" commanded only an 11.5/18 . . .

That gave CBS a 10.1 rating and a 16 share for the night on Tuesday, while ABC moseyed right on through the evening with a 19.2/29 and NBC hunkered down with a 14.7/23 . . .

"Spenser: For Hire," who was headed for the Last Roundup himself not too many weeks ago, even won its 10 p.m. time period on ABC with a 15.8/26 . . .

ABC News has promoted Don Dunphy Jr. from director of its syndicated news service to vice president for affiliate news services out of New York . . .

John Huddy, executive producer of CBS' "Nightwatch," has his "designated chair" back in the control room and, as he noted in a memo to the staff yesterday, the "chair wars have ended" . . .

A first Huddy memo, circulated Tuesday, wasn't at all chairful. In fact, it was downright cranky . . .

"I am no longer willing to sit on the floor in my own control room," wrote Huddy. "Beginning today, we are designating the black swivel chair with the wooden armrests as the 'designated chair' for the broadcast management. It will be positioned behind the director and beneath the line producer. It shall be used by either the executive producer or the senior producer on duty. Please ask your technicans and AD's associate directors not to remove this chair." . . .

Huddy found eight new chairs in the control room yesterday morning, prompting the second, concilatory memo from the "chairman" ("spreading good chair," he called it) that exhorted the late-night talk show crew to "chair and chair alike" and reminding them that "chair today, gone tomorrow" . . .

Catching up: That dreadful JFK-Marilyn Monroe skit on "Saturday Night Live," among other disasters, prompted at least 140 complaining phone calls to NBC in New York on Sunday . . . Locally, the WRC switchboard was closed and no count was obtained . . . Also in the News

A 30-second commercial, designed to counter a pro-"Star Wars" ad featuring a crayola rainbow that made a splash here and in markets throughout the South and Midwest in late October, has debuted in the Washington market on WDVM, WTTG and WJLA . . .

The "crayola" ad, in which a rainbow-like "peace shield" stops incoming missiles while a daddy explains it all to his little daughter, was developed for High Frontier, the key Strategic Defense Initiative advocacy group, and its public relations arm, the Coalition for the Strategic Defense Initiative, by Ringe Media Inc., a Washington firm . . .

The counter ad, called "Space Wars," features a little boy named Matthew, who says, "I asked my daddy what this 'Star Wars' stuff is all about" . . .

The narrator explains: "Matthew has the same problem the White House does. He's trying to turn 'Star Wars' into something called the 'Peace Shield.' But it doesn't fit. Because Matthew's learning what adults already know. When someone wants to mislead you, they try to change the name. But when you look closer, it's still the same old thing" . . .

Matthew: "I got it: Space Wars!"

Narrator: "A moment of truth" . . .

The counter ad was developed for the Committee for a Strong, Peaceful America, a coalition of eight arms control groups, and produced by Robert Squier's The Communications Company and supervised by Richard Pollock Associates Inc., both of Washington . . .

The initial media buy cost $15,000 and eight other markets are being considered for placement . . .

"CBS Evening News" was first in the Network Wars last week with a 13.0 rating and a 22 percent share, followed by "NBC Nightly News" with a 12.3/21 and "ABC World News Tonight" at 12.2/21 . . .

That spread of only one share point between first and third was the closest since the week ending April 23, 1982, when CBS and NBC had 23 shares and ABC had a 22 . . .

But let's talk about a Cold War: As we reported last week, Dan Rather and "CBS Evening News" will be broadcasting from the roof of the Metropole Hotel in chilly Geneva next week during the summit meeting . . .

Now we learn that Peter Jennings and "ABC World News Tonight" will be bundled up broadcasting from in front of the Beau Rivage hotel . . .

And "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" will be outside the Noga Hilton, right next to the lake . . .

If the wind really starts to whistle, both ABC and NBC have fallback positions inside the Intercontinental Hotel, however . . .

C-SPAN, the public affairs cable network, is not happy with Sigma Delta Chi, the journalism fraternity, right now . . .

SDX is holding its annual convention in Phoenix this week and C-SPAN has its cameras there to cover at least three workshops and . . . most exciting of all . . . tonight's "roast" of CBS special correspondent Walter Cronkite at the Phoenix Hilton . . .

But apparently SDX officials, informed by CBS' Andy Rooney that he, for one, would have to temper his remarks if cameras were to be present, got nervous and yesterday canceled C-SPAN's roast coverage . . .

"We'd already had requests from several journalism schools for tapes of the roast," C-SPAN's Susan Swain said yesterday. "It's a funny thing, but every time we run into this problem it's at the hands of media groups" . . .

Tapes of the roastless SDX proceedings will air over the weekend on C-SPAN . . .