Now Here's the News

Part I of NBC's "Mussolini: The Untold Story" finished third Sunday night behind CBS and ABC -- in Nielsen's 12 big-city markets, anyway . . .

The combination of "Murder, She Wrote" and Part I of the mystery thriller "Doubletake" on CBS averaged a 20.6 rating and a 30 percent audience share from 8 to 11 that night, compared with a 19.4/28 for the two-hour "Ewoks: The Battle for Endor" and "The World's Funniest Commercial Goofs" on ABC. The three-hour premiere of "Mussolini" on NBC averaged an 18.5/27 . . .

In Washington, "Doubletake" on Channel 9 averaged a 19.3/31, compared with a 20.1/28 for the "Ewoks" on Seven and a 16.3/25 for Mussolini on Four . . .

From the Alms Talks:

Channel 26 took in $27,700 Sunday night as the station kicked off its on-and-off 14-day fund-raising drive . . . The tambourines won't be heard again after tonight until Friday and they'll take another rest on Dec. 5 during the drive, which ends Dec. 11 and has a goal of $500,000 . . .

Incidentally, the Library of Congress was so swamped with ticket requests for last night's reading by Garrison Keillor, creator and host of American Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion" and author of "Lake Wobegon Days" . . . that Channel 26 agreed to tape the performance . . .

So Saturday night at 8 p.m., a one-hour version of the reading by Keillor will air on WETA, followed by the previously scheduled "The Last Waltz," at 9 p.m. . . .

Also joining the Alms Race, starting this Friday, will be stations of Maryland Public Television, which hope to raise $375,000 over a 13-day period that will also end Dec. 11 . . .

Meanwhile, Channel 32, Howard University's public TV station, had a burnout on a transmission line last July that forced it off the air for 10 days. When it returned, WHMM broadcast at only half its 5 megawatts of power . . .

It was later determined that a basic design problem in the original equipment -- which is no longer manufactured -- caused the burnout . . .

Therefore, starting Monday, Dec. 2, the station will be off the air through Sunday, Dec. 8, as a completely new 850-foot transmission line is installed . . .

Another casualty of CBS News' budget-cutting campaign: those long-range plans to build a new facility for the crowded CBS bureau here . . .

The CBS News bureau, with about 250 people on board, currently occupies about 30,000 square feet at 2020 M St. NW, as well as office space next door at 2030 M St. and across the street (where "Nightwatch" is located) at 2033 M . . .

The network has dropped an option to purchase property at 1250 23rd St. NW, where the new building was to have been built . . . and instead, painters are touching up the Old Digs these days . . .

And while we're there on M Street, correspondent Bob Faw is sitting in as anchor of "Nightwatch" for vacationing Charlie Rose all this week . . . Also in the News

Channel 56 said late yesterday it will have live coverage of the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis from Cape Canaveral tonight between 7 and 8:30 . . .

Using the term "Star Wars" to describe President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative has turned a movie of fantasy into one of fear, lawyers for filmmaker George Lucas told a federal judge here yesterday . . .

Laurence Hefter, representing the creator of the adventure film that has earned $1.3 billion around the world, asked U.S. District Judge Gerhard Gesell to grant a preliminary injunction stopping two groups from using the phrase "Star Wars" in their competing TV ads about the controversial defense proposal . . .

" 'Star Wars,' your honor, is a fantasy. It's something that doesn't exist," Hefter said. Ads that associate "Star Wars" with a missile program, he said, "will cause children and parents to tend to shy away from 'Star Wars' " . . .

Mary E. Jacksteit, a lawyer for an arms control organization, told Gesell that the reality of possible war in space has caught up with the fantasy created in the movie . . .

She said Lucas "cannot turn back the clock" on what she described as "the real world" . . .

Lucasfilm Ltd. has filed suit against High Frontier and the Committee for a Strong Peaceful America . . .

Both ads feature children. In the High Frontier ad, the child associates "Star Wars" with peace, while the child in the ad from the Committee for a Strong Peaceful America determines that SDI will lead to war in space . . .

Hefter said Lucasfilm "does not seek to silence either party" but merely wants to protect its trademark and "prevent it from association with a noxious subject, particularly nuclear holocaust" . . .

During the oral arguments yesterday, Gesell combined the two cases. He took the case under advisement following the arguments . . .

Showtime, the pay cable network, has ordered a final six episodes of "The Paper Chase" from 20th Century-Fox TV that will probably start airing in mid-1986 . . .

The series -- about a Harvard-like law school, based on the 1973 movie of the same title -- debuted on CBS in 1978 but lasted only until July 1979 . . .

In 1983 Showtime revived it, with John Houseman playing contracts law teacher -- and world-class grump -- Prof. Charles W. Kingsfield, James Stephens as James T. Hart, Tom Fitzsimmons as Franklin Ford III and James Keane as Willis Bell, all from the original CBS cast . . .

Houseman had won an Oscar as supporting actor in his role as Kingsfield in the movie . . .

The class has completed its three years in law school, so the new episodes (which include a two-hour graduation special) will take them through graduation and perhaps even bar exams . . .

In 1987 Showtime will begin airing, on a weekly basis, all 58 episodes, including the 20 from CBS . . . And Finally

A poll of 1,217 adults, conducted in late October by USA Today and announced today, indicates that CBS' Dan Rather is the most trusted news anchor and that a majority of viewers said they would least like to be interviewed by ABC's Barbara Walters . . .

Rather had 39 percent of the vote as most trusted, compared with 30 percent for ABC's Peter Jennings and 20 percent for NBC's Tom Brokaw . . .

Walters' got 51 percent of the anti-interview vote, followed by CBS' Mike Wallace at 20 percent, ABC's Sam Donaldson (13) and ABC's Ted Koppel (11) . . .

Female viewers polled chose "Magnum, P.I.'s" Tom Selleck as the sexiest man on TV, with 38 percent of the vote. Don Johnson of "Miami Vice" got 18 percent to finish second . . .

Linda Evans of "Dynasty," with 16 percent of the vote, was named sexiest woman on TV, followed by "Dynasty's" Joan Collins (11), "Moonlighting's" Cybill Shepherd (7), "Dallas' " Victoria Principal (6) and "Dynasty's" Heather Locklear (4) . . .