ABC Entertainment announced changes in its Tuesday and Friday lineups yesterday that will take effect at the end of the month . . .
Jettisoned with the changes, probably for good, are the low-rated "Diff'rent Strokes" and "He's the Mayor" . . .
ABC will introduce "Perfect Strangers" at 8:30 on Tuesday, March 25, one of the few time slots on the current ABC schedule a producer would kill for -- right after "Who's the Boss?" . . .
The move puts "Growing Pains" -- this season's shoo-in for the Miracles Do Happen Award -- on leave from the 8:30 Tuesday slot until May 6 . . .
(This week, "Who's" got a 21.6 Nielsen rating and a 34 percent audience share while "Pains" got a 21.4/32, making them the two highest rated shows on network TV Tuesday night) . . .
"Perfect Strangers" stars Bronson Pinchot, who stood out in "Beverly Hills Cop" playing a gay art gallery clerk. In "Perfect," he's a "Mediterranean goatherd who arrives unexpectedly at the U.S. home of a distant cousin, an aspiring photographer who works in a small discount store" . . .
Starting Friday, March 28, "Strokes" and "He's" both go on "hiatus," the former after a run that began in 1978 on NBC. They'll be replaced between 9 and 10 p.m. by "Mr. Sunshine" and "Joe Bash" . . .
"Sunshine" was originally supposed to debut last September but was yanked in June. It's the story of a blind college professor and, off the pilot, is a lot funnier and more touching than one should expect (whether the premise can be stretched week after week is something else) . . .
"Joe Bash," played by Peter Boyle, is a New York street cop "who wants to spend his last years before retirement in peace and tranquility." Andrew Rubin plays the predictable "young, eager colleague." One thing going for "Joe": It was created by Danny ("Barney Miller") Arnold . . .
Speaking of Tuesday night, as we were, CBS' excellent "A Deadly Business" averaged a poor 12.3/21, while a repeat of the pilot of "Stingray" on NBC had a 14.2/24 . . .
Baltic Americans, with the aid of Sens. Donald W. Riegle Jr. (D) and Carl Levin (D) of Michigan, have protested to NBC about next Wednesday's episode of "Highway to Heaven," in which the leader of a neo-Nazi group tormenting an Auschwitz survivor is named "Jan Baltic" . . .
In their letter, which was also sent to Michael Landon, the producer of "Highway," the senators said, "We share the concerns of Baltic Americans that the linkage of their entire community to the kind of ethnic bigotry and hatred exhibited by Jan Baltic could create harmful tensions and misunderstandings. A similar concern has been voiced by the American Jewish Committee . . .
"We appreciate your position expressed to representatives of Baltic American organizations that the use of the name . . . was merely coincidental and was not intended to associate the over one million Baltic Americans in this country with the reprehensible attitudes of the individual portrayed as Jan Baltic . . .
"In the interest of ensuring that no group is discriminated against or vilified because of its national origin we request that NBC seriously consider substituting the name Baltic with a more appropriate one prior to the film's showing" . . .
The letter was sent to Bettye King Hoffmann, vice president, program information resources . . .
According to Sen. Riegle's office, additional letters yesterday were being circulated for signatures in both the House and Senate regarding the issue.
The Baltic states -- Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania -- were overrun by the Soviet Army at the end of World War II. According to a Riegle aide, on Jan. 23 of this year, Sen. Riegle introduced a bill calling for June 14, 1986, to be declared Baltic Freedom Day, and a House bill was similarly introduced "to focus the attention of the world on the plight of the Baltic people and demonstrate solidarity with them in their continual struggle for freedom" . . .
A spokesman for NBC late yesterday said no change will be made in the Wednesday program . . .
In a statement issued yesterday, Hoffman said, "We're sorry to learn of your distress over the use of Jan Baltic as the name of the neo-Nazi in this program. We assure you that this is a totally manufactured name and is in no way intended to be identified with any particular group . . .
"The episode in question stresses the subject of intolerance. It contains no dialogue whatsoever that refers to the ancestry of the fictional Jan Baltic or to that of his accomplices . . .
". . . NBC is sensitive to scapegoating and the imputation of guilt. Fixing an entire community with responsibility for acts committed by individual members is unacceptable . . .
"At the same time, for any group to assume that the mere mention of an individual's name or identity inevitably tars the entire group with the acts of that individual is unwarranted . . .
"Even if viewers associated the name of Baltic with Latvians sic we strongly believe they would not conclude that those engaged in neo-Nazi activities are Americans of east central European sic extraction" . . .
Moving Right Along
To our Thanks, We Needed That file: CBS' "Nightwatch" will air an interview with murderer Charles Manson at 2 a.m. Friday morning (that's real late tonight, folks) . . .
Host Charlie Rose interviewed Manson in San Quentin prison out in California last week . . .
Here's some other highlights from the local February ratings sweeps . . .
In the Always Interesting Saturday evening public affairs program race, Channel 9's veteran "Agronsky & Co." was the clear winner in both the Arbitron and Nielsen books . . .
At 7 p.m., "Agronsky" earned an 11.9 ARB rating and a 22 percent audience share. In the Nielsen book, it was 12/22 . . .
On Channel 7 at the same hour, David Schoumacher's sprightly "Point to Point" could do no better than a 4.8/8 (3.7/7 in Nielsen) . . .
At 7:30 on Channel 4, "The McLaughlin Group" averaged a 9.7/17 in both books (each ratings point representing approximately 15,000 TV homes) . . .
Looking at the 4-to-5-p.m. late afternoon competition, Monday through Fridays (ARB ratings first, Nielsen in parentheses):
Channel 7's combination of "$1 Million Chance of a Lifetime" and "Sale of the Century" averaged an 8.0/20 (6.1/15), Channel 5's combination of "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe" and "GI Joe" averaged 7.3/19 (6.8/17), Channel 9's "Hour Magazine" 6.5/17 (9.0/22), Channel 4's "Hart to Hart" 5.6/14 (6.8/17), and Channel 20's combination of "Challenge of the Gobots" and "Transformers" 3.0/8 (3.8/9) . . .
From 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., "Wheel of Fortune" on Nine leads with a 13.0/22 (15.4/24), followed by "M*A*S*H" on Five, 12.8/22 (14.7/23), while "The New Newlywed Game" on Four and "Entertainment Tonight" on Seven tied at 9.2/16 (in Nielsen, Four has a 10.9/17, Seven has a 9.5/15). "Benson" on Twenty had a 4.6/8 (4.8/7) . . .
"Jeopardy!" on Seven averages a 7.8/13 (8.5/14) at 7 p.m. . . .
Channel 7 has announced it will air "The Barbour Report," a half-hour of humorous essays, comedy in the news and light features, at midnight starting Monday . . .
The "Report," hosted by John Barbour, is getting a two-week tryout by the network, which is seeking a good show that can hang on to the "Nightline" audience at midnight come next fall . . .