The 58th annual Academy Awards Monday night produced the lowest Nielsen ratings ever for the event, averaging a 27.3 Nielsen rating and a 43 percent audience share between 9 p.m. and 12:02 a.m. . . .
That figures to an average of 23.45 million TV homes during the telecast, which ABC estimated represented about 60 million viewers . . .
Setting a new low figure wasn't all that hard: The 1985 Oscars had the previous low mark with a 27.7/45, which represented 23.51 million homes and an estimated 65 million viewers (don't ask me how a mere 60,000 TV homes account for 5 million more viewers -- this is network research finagling, which seldom bears close scrutiny). . .
The Oscars were first telecast in 1953 and since that time, the 1959 Academy Awards -- when "Ben-Hur" took 11 statues back to the chariot house -- has been the all-time ratings champ for the gala, with a 47.7 rating and an incredible 82 percent of that night's national audience tuned in . . .
That year, some 20.5 million TV homes tuned in . . .
(After hours of poking through the records in the basement of the Primetime Pantheon yesterday -- whew, it was dusty! -- Captain Airwaves discovered that in 1959 a Nielsen point represented 440,000 TV homes. In 1985, it was 849,000 homes and this year it's 859,000) . . .
Earlier Monday, the Barbara Walters interview with the Reagans on ABC drew an unspectacular 20.9/31 from 8 to 9 . . .
"You Again?" and "Valerie," the 8 to 9 newcomers on NBC, had 15.4/23 and 15.4/22, respectively, while "The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission" from 9 to 11 did a 13.8/21 . . .
The lineup on CBS from 8 to 11 averaged a 13.2/20 . . .
Locally, "Squirm" on Channel 20 between 8 and 10 p.m. Monday had a 5.1/9 in the Arbitron ratings . . .
No sooner had the stage lights dimmed yesterday than PBS announced that "Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements," which won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Documentary Short Subjects, would be fed to the system next Tuesday . . .
Channel 32 here plans to air the program next Wednesday night at 10 p.m., while Channel 26 has penciled it in for May 14 at 10 . . .
A nominee in the same category, "The Courage to Care," will be fed to stations by PBS on May 6. Channel 32 plans to air the program the same evening, while Channel 26 has scheduled it for the night of May 7 . . .
PBS will also repeat a documentary feature, "The Statue of Liberty," which was nominated this year for an Oscar, on the evening of July 2 . . .
Likewise, "Unfinished Business," also nominated in the documentary feature category, and which told the story of three Japanese fighting the 1942 internment of their people on the West Coast, will also be repeated on PBS, although no date has been set . . .
"Witness" tells of a Vietnam veteran who became a Quaker and has been active in Central America. "Courage" tells the story of non-Jews who aided Jews during the Holocaust . . .
Hang on to your entertainments tonight, TV Column fans! . . .
A daily TV version of People magazine is being developed by the people at People and Walt Disney Domestic Television for syndication, starting in the fall of 1987 . . .
A weeknight half hour and a one-hour weekend show are planned . . .
Like Paramount's current "Entertainment Tonight," it would be satellited (is there such a word? If there isn't there ought to be) daily to stations specifically for the primetime access period between network news and 8 p.m. Eastern time . . .