Super agent Ed Hookstratten is shopping O.J. Simpson around since ABC Sports announced his removal from "Monday Night Football" in favor of a college football assignment for the network as commentator . . .
Simpson's current contract was for services on "Monday Night Football" only, which gives him the option of looking around, even as he mulls the college game offer . . .
(In case you've been taking the waters in Rockville this past week, ABC Sports fired Joe Namath and moved Frank Gifford to commentator on the revised two-man "MNF" team, which will be led by Al Michaels hereafter) . . .
CBS Sports President Peter Lund and Executive Producer Terry O'Neil have talked to Hookstratten about the possibility of Simpson joining their NFL team as an analyst and other possible assignments, although right now he would seem to rank behind the redoubtable John Madden, Dick Vermeil and Hank Stram, to name a few veterans . . .
A very, very remote possibility: Simpson joining "NFL Today" . . .
A spokesman for CBS Sports said yesterday that "no deal is imminent" . . . but our sources say he's almost a cinch to go to CBS . . .
NBC Sports, which has Merlin Olsen, Bob Trumpy and Bob Griese as top NFL commentators, turned O.J. down . . . in part because his ABC pay scale (he received $40,000 a game for some 15 appearances last season) would turn their own salary scales topsy-turvy . . . and because there really isn't a high profile spot available to Simpson, whom they respect . . .
ABC News is planning a major reorganization over the next weeks . . .
Staff cuts -- though not as many as the 110 that have been rumored for several weeks in the division -- will be made and personnel will be shifted among several units as management makes a preemptive strike on any plans penny-pinching Capital Cities management might have to pare the division . . .
A task force has been working since late last year on the changes, and key supervisors have been poring over their rosters to determine who stays and who goes . . .
On-air talent reportedly will not be affected . . .
Although it produces as much, and maybe more, on-air news programming as rivals CBS or NBC, ABC News employs a bare-bones staff of about 1,150 . . . compared with about 1,500 at CBS News and some 1,400 at NBC News . . .
Nevertheless, Cap Cities, which took over ABC in January, has the budget knife out. Public and corporate relations staffs have already been severely chopped and orders have gone out to tighten up on the use of limos, first class airline tickets and expensive hotel suites throughout Cap Cities/ABC, Inc. . . .
It will be interesting this June to see just what ABC will do on behalf of its affiliates when they gather in Los Angeles for the annual cheerleading contest on behalf of the new fall entertainment schedule . . .
In the past, networks have been known to spend more than $100,000 for a single evening's gala to please the home-town station executives, many of whom are always potential candidates to jump to another network if they're not treated in the manner to which they have become accustomed over the profitable years past . . . Also in the News
A proposal made last December by Operation PUSH to CBS-owned WBBM in Chicago has surfaced that casts a new light on the boycott instituted against the station six months ago, following the release of a popular black anchorman . . .
The eight-page proposal, called the "WBBM-TV Covenant," asked the station to sign an agreement ensuring strict hiring quotas and calling for the donation of $11 million to black charities and organizations . . .
The covenant also called for minority quotas in WBBM's use of banking, professional services and contracts, and is similar to agreements that PUSH has with such large companies as Coca-Cola, Burger King and Anheuser-Busch . . .
More specifically, PUSH wants WBBM to establish a 40 percent employment quota for blacks and Hispanic employes, hire two male minority anchors for week-night broadcasts and guarantee that 25 percent of the station's legal work will be done by black or Hispanic lawyers and 35 percent of the station's outside accounting work will be contracted to minority accountants . . .
PUSH also seeks $20,000 scholarships for Chicago minority students, the establishment of a Black Policy Institute budgeted at $150,000 annually, a donation of $10 million to the United Negro College Fund and a minimum of $1 million to black organizations designated by PUSH . . .
A spokesman for CBS in New York yesterday said that talks are continuing with PUSH, which is headed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, but held out little hope that such concessions would be in the best interest of the network . . .
George Schweitzer pointed out that WBBM already has the second-best minority hiring record among Chicago stations, according to FCC figures, with 23.2 percent, just below NBC-owned WMAQ, which has a 24.3 percent rate . . .
The spokesman also said that CBS has donated some $350,000 to the UNCF over the past 10 years and that CBS Chairman Thomas Wyman serves on the UNCF board . . .
A black woman, Robin Robinson, anchors the WBBM Sunday newscasts, but the PUSH proposal specifically spells out the hiring of male anchors. In addition, PUSH seeks at least two minority members as assignment editors, reporters and managers, all male . . .
Earlier this month, Johnathan Rodgers, who had been executive producer of "CBS Morning News," was named vice president and general manager at WBBM, the only black GM of any network-owned station. At the time, CBS took pains to stress that Rodgers' promotion was based on merit and not race . . . and was in no way a response to the PUSH boycott . . .
Rodgers and Neil Derrough, president of CBS-owned stations, met with PUSH officials last Friday but no further meetings have been held . . .
In a lengthy statement issued by Rodgers yesterday, he seemed to be putting some distance between the PUSH demands and his position with the network . . .
Rodgers concluded the statement by saying that "the bottom line is, I alone am the general manager of this television station. I stand on my record and my experience and that record shows that I am a fair and just individual. This station will do what is right and in the best interest of the entire community" . . .
PUSH -- which announced yesterday it was extending its boycott to all CBS stations around the country -- claims the boycott has been effective in Chicago, with the latest news ratings showing WBBM remaining in third place. CBS points out that strong competition from lead-in shows like "Wheel of Fortune" have adversely affected WBBM's performance in recent months in the market and that the specific effect of a boycott cannot be determined . . .
PUSH officials have hinted recently that the covenant may be negotiable . . .
Neither Rodgers nor PUSH officials returned phone calls yesterday . . .
The National Association of Broadcasters yesterday announced that Rory Benson has been named vice president and special assistant to NAB President Ed Fritts . . .
Wallace Wurfel, who served in the Carter administration, has been named senior vice president of public affairs. He succeeds Shaun Sheehan, who recently left to establish the Washington office of the Tribune Broadcasting Co. . . .
The "Today" show took the first quarter (January-March) over "Good Morning America," the first time the NBC program has won a quarter since 1979 . . .
Nevertheless and notwithstanding, after 14 straight weeks on top of the early morning network race (well, ABC and NBC tied once) . . . "Today" fell to second for the week ending March 21 . . .
"GMA" was first with a 5.7/24, "Today" followed with a 5.5/23 and "CBS Morning News" followed, followed, followed with a 3.2/14 . . . TJust Try to Remember
That this is the ninth birthday for the TV Column, which once again wants to express its lasting gratitude to the TV Grid next door . . .