But first the good news. NBC Entertainment has bought the rights to two Jackie Collins novels -- "Chances" and its sequel "Lucky."
The first novel dealt with one Gino Santangelo, who rose from urchin to America's most powerful gangster. The second was about Gino's daughter, who runs a casino in Las Vegas . . .
NBC will put the two stories together into a seven-hour mini-series next season . . .
In announcing the purchase, NBC released a statement from Collins that flew right out of our hands and into our What Are You Doing Next Tuesday at 8 p.m., Jackie? file:
"I write very commercial books," said Collins, "and NBC makes very classy programs". . .
The Grammy Awards on CBS Tuesday night not only won the evening for the network, it helped CBS win a tie with NBC in Arbitron's February ratings sweeps, which concluded that evening . . .
From 8 to 11 p.m., anyway, the Grammys had a national Nielsen rating of 20.3 and a 32 percent audience share, which took care of ABC and NBC very nicely that night. The conclusion of "Crossings" on ABC from 9 to 11 did a 17.4/27 . . . while a two-hour "Riptide" on NBC over the same period did only a 13.3/21 . . .
After Saturday night last week, CBS trailed NBC in the February ARB sweeps by 1.1 ratings points (17.2 to 18.3) but two big nights with "Blood & Orchids" and the Grammys did the trick . . .
For the 28 nights of the ARB sweeps, which began Jan. 29, CBS and NBC both had 17.8 ratings and 27 shares . . . while ABC trailed with a 15.1/23 average . . .
The Nielsen sweeps ended last night, and going into the finale CBS was getting close to NBC in that one, too . . .
For all that, don't expect CBS to catch NBC in the regular season primetime race. With eight weeks to go, CBS would have to beat NBC every week by 2.7 ratings points (or about 2.3 million TV homes on average) and the best CBS has been able to do all year is beat NBC by eight-tenths of a point (or 672,000 homes) the week ending Jan. 5. . .
That stirring within the Kremlin walls yesterday morning in the minus-17-degree Fahrenheit cold just might have been due to the sight of ABC News commentator George Will taking his morning jog out on the square . . .
Gordon Barnes was expected to return to his weatherperson duties at Channel 9 last night after a bout with a very sore throat . . .
Nine news has been plagued with illness among its on-air troops all during February. And this is a month Channel 9 expects to set new ratings records for its news programs . . . at least in the Nielsen book. H'mmmmm . . .
Sources at Turner Broadcasting System say that NBC News recently showed considerable interest in Cable News Network anchor Mary Alice Williams . . . who used to work for WNBC in New York . . .
With Connie Chung off "Sunrise" while working on "American Almanac" and "Today's" Jane Pauley due for maternity leave maybe in July . . . the move makes sense. But apparently CNN wouldn't let her out of her current contract . . .
NBC had no comment whatsoever on the report yesterday . . .
Also in the NewsSpeaking of TBS, did you know that Channel 50, the Washington station that hopes to be on the air with a full schedule of movies and reruns as of Monday, March 31, has signed to carry all 129 hours of the Goodwill Games out of Moscow starting July 5? . . .
Well it's true. It's a barter arrangement that gives WFTY, which pays nothing for the programming, five minutes of advertising to sell each hour while TBS keeps seven for its own sales . . .
The pay TV service currently offered on Channel 50 will conclude its run tomorrow night. In the interim, WFTY will offer Financial News Network in the daytime and some sports programming from Score, with movies at 8 p.m. until the regular schedule -- which we hope to have for you any day now -- starts at the end of March . . .
The Games run through July 20 and TBS, which has already lined up KTLA in Los Angeles and WNEW in New York, as well as other stations in major markets, hopes to have 95 percent coverage of U.S. television audiences by the time the big sports events begin . . .
TBS officials expect the Games to cost $34 million but hope to earn at least $50 million in ad revenues and sales of the Games rights to foreign broadcasters . . .
Speaking of new stations in the area, we've neglected to welcome aboard Channel 24 in Baltimore (WKJL), which has been offering family fare since Christmas Eve and reportedly even made a dent in the most recent Nielsen ratings books for that market . . .
WKFL is owned by Family Media Inc. of Nashville. FMI's principal owner, Sam Moore, is also president and principal owner of the privately held Thomas Nelson Bible Publications Co. in Nashville . . .
Afternoon lineups on weekdays feature a noon movie, "Rawhide," "Death Valley Days," "The Cisco Kid," "F Troop," "Family Affair" and "Emergency" . . .
The lineup after 6 p.m. includes "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "One Day at a Time," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Bob Newhart," "The Waltons" and "Gunsmoke" . . .
According to Vice President and General Manager Ken Buschman, the new station is currently on Prince George's County cable and hopes to expand its cable audience . . . pending resolution of the "must carry" cable rules which are this very minute being hammered out between cable operators and over-the-air broadcasters . . .
Late additions to this morning's "Good Morning America" guest list: 16-year-old blind wrestler James Littlejohn and his coach Paul Hassler of Magruder High School in Rockville . . . They'll be on about 7:50 a.m. . . . Young Littlejohn was featured in a recent Post story . . .