Since this is Law Day, TV Column fans, we want to stipulate that on Wednesday, June 4, at 11 p.m., Channel 26 will debut "Devil's Advocate," a weekly half-hour program about the law, hosted by Washington lawyer and author Ronald Goldfarb . . .
The show gets a four-week tryout and if successful, it could become a regular series on WETA . . .
Sources at the Washington bureau of NBC News yesterday confirmed a report that "1986" anchor Roger Mudd hopped a plane to New York last Thursday to meet with NBC News President Larry Grossman shortly after he and the rest of the "1986" crew were told that Connie Chung's new contract with the network included her promotion to coanchor of the upcoming news magazine . . .
The sources, however, refused to speculate that Mudd flew to see Grossman because Chung had been named coanchor . . .
One person close to the show confirmed that Mudd and Grossman discussed the future of the magazine show, the debut of which as a weekly primetime series had previously been delayed twice by executives in New York, unhappy with the pilots . . .
"Roger wanted to get a general idea of where the show is going," this source said. "I think you could say he hasn't been happy about several aspects of the production" . . .
A report in Variety yesterday hinted that Mudd and Chung aren't getting along on the show and her promotion to coanchor and her addition to the list of the NBC "anchor pool" of substitutes for Tom Brokaw on "Nightly News" angered Mudd . . .
"I don't think that's quite true," our source said. "But if you're suggesting there's a lack of chemistry between the two, you wouldn't be too far wrong" . . .
The source added: "The fact is, Roger flew back Thursday night and was all smiles at the party the crew had out at the bureau on Friday," celebrating "1986's" addition to the weekly schedule starting June 10 . . .
Neither Mudd nor Chung was available for comment yesterday. "1986" executive producer Ed Fouhy declined to discuss either the Variety report or any speculation regarding his two touchy star performers . . .
Apparent interest in the Soviet Union nuclear disaster Tuesday night helped boost Channel 5's 10 o'clock news ratings to a 14.5 Nielsen rating and a big 25 percent audience share . . .
That was good enough to beat the 11 p.m. competition on the network affiliates, as Channel 7 and Channel 9 tied with 12.7/26, while Channel 4, with a poor lead-in audience from "Stingray," could only manage a 9.5/19 . . .
The two-hour conclusion of the mini-series "Strong Medicine" on Channel 20 Tuesday night drew an anemic 2.4/4 . . .
(There's a very tiny medical joke, there, TV Column fans, in case it escaped your attention . . .) Moving Right Along
For a couple of weeks now, Captain Airwaves has been getting notices from various programs that they've been named winners of the 46th annual George Foster Peabody Awards for meritorious service in broadcasting for the year 1985 . . .
The awards are due to be announced next Wednesday at the Plaza in New York but as long as so many of the secrets are out we thought we'd sneak in the names of some of the 21 winners in the television category . . .
They include: "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" for Charlayne Hunter-Gault's "Apartheid's People"; WETA and Central Independent Television for "The Skin Horse"; NBC News for "Vietnam Ten Years Later"; CBS Reports for "Whose America Is It?," and CBS Entertainment and Dave Bell Productions for "Do You Remember Love" . . .
Other TV winners were NBC Productions Inc. for "An Early Frost," Spinning Reels and Home Box Office for "Braingames," "Frontline" for "Crisis in Central America," plus WNET and the Harvey Milk Film Project Inc. for "The Times of Harvey Milk" . . .
Also named were the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for "Live From Lincoln Center," Bob Geldof and Live Aid, Johnny Carson and the Columbia University Seminars on Media and Society . . .
Six Peabody awards also went to radio broadcasters . . .
Speaking of Peabody Award-winning Channel 26, WETA has announced plans to produce five one-hour documentaries, each devoted to a year of "The Civil War," which are scheduled to air on WETA and PBS in 1989-90 . . .
Some funding has already been raised by WETA, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS toward the project, which could cost $2.5 million in all. Ken Burns will produce the series for WETA . . .
W.R. Grace & Co. said yesterday it has hired former secretary of health, education and welfare Joseph A. Califano Jr. to press ABC, CBS and NBC to accept advertising linked to major public issues . . .
At a New York news conference yesterday, J. Peter Grace, chairman of W.R. Grace and Co., announced the firm had retained Califano's legal services . . .
CBS and NBC recently refused to broadcast a Grace commercial entitled "The Deficit Trials: 2017 A.D." ABC agreed to air the spot only between midnight and 12:30 a.m. . . .
The ad, which cost $300,000 to produce and was directed by British filmmaker Ridley Scott, features a gray and dingy 2017 courtroom, where children dressed in rags have brought the present generation to trial for spiraling, unchecked deficits . . .
"This is a fundamental issue of whether in our country, we have a free marketplace for ideas or not," Grace said, stressing that the new campaign was not focused just on the "Trials" commercial . . .
Califano said he had written letters to the chief executive officers of the three corporations that own the networks -- Thomas Murphy of Capital Cities/ABC Inc.; Thornton Bradshaw of RCA Corp. (NBC); and Thomas Wyman of CBS Inc. -- to protest the "inconsistent, arbitrary and capricious" decisions not to run certain ads and to request explanations for the policy that guided those decisions . . .
"You can talk to the American people about detergents and deodorants," Califano said, "but not about deficits; about fast cars and fast foods but not about foreign policy; and about toys and toilet tissue but not about taxes. How can that make any sense in a free democracy?" . . .
Grace refused to speculate whether W. R. Grace and Co. would take the question to court if the networks did not respond . . .
CBS/Broadcast Group Vice President George Schweitzer said the letter sent by Califano raised "important questions" that the network would respond to directly. An NBC spokesman said the network does not accept issue-oriented advertising. ABC declined comment . . .