John Huddy, executive producer of CBS' "Nightwatch" news program, has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation within the CBS News Washington bureau of allegations of sex discrimination by Huddy . . .
A meeting between 13 former and current employes of the late-night program and deputy bureau chief Joe Peyronnin last Thursday precipitated the probe . . .
Bureau chief Jack Smith, CBS Personnel Vice President Lynne Wellbrook and Beth Bressen from the CBS legal staff in New York are conducting the investigation . . .
Sources indicate that the charges arose from an incident several weeks ago in which three female broadcast associates were assigned secretarial duties in the absence of regular secretary help . . .
Earlier, a female broadcast assistant had been assigned to overnight duty against her wishes, these sources said . . .
Huddy, who was placed on paid leave Monday, yesterday denied published reports that any allegation of sexual harassment was involved . . .
Bureau chief Smith refused comment on the probe, pending its outcome, expected by the end of the week . . .
Huddy said in a telephone interview that he could not comment directly on the investigation, but pointed out that the "shock wave" among the 60 employes of the program in Washington and New York at the news several weeks ago of pending personnel cuts "contributed to the problems" within the unit . . .
He said that a personal decision to meet with every member of the staff for a performance review in recent weeks probably also contributed to the situation . . .
"Looking back, I did what I thought was fair and right but I'm afraid it sent a shock wave through the organization" . . .
Denying any harassment, Huddy said, "There's a part of me that's angry and hurt and part of me that's philosophical" . . .
The probe reportedly involves a single instance of sex discrimination, apparently the secretarial assignment incident, but that could not be confirmed yesterday . . .
Ironically, rumors over cutbacks or even elimination of the late-night program come at a time that the program is enjoying its greatest success in its four years . . .
In recent weeks it has averaged a 1.5 Nielsen rating and a 24 percent national audience share between 2 and 6 a.m. In Washington, its impact is considerably greater, averaging a 3.2/42 . . . Also in the News
Channel 7 and David Schoumacher, a major presence on the station since 1976, have decided to call it quits following cancellation by WJLA of his "Point to Point" Saturday night public affairs program after last week's broadcast . . .
Schoumacher joined Channel 7 in 1976 after tenures with both CBS and ABC News and served as anchor and coanchor at the station until the spring of last year . . .
At that point he renegotiated his contract to produce and anchor "Point to Point," an ambitious but low-rated program that suffered as a late starter in the Saturday night public affairs competition against "Agronsky & Co." and "The McLaughlin Group" . . .
Tom Cookerly, president and general manager of WJLA, said yesterday that he was "proud to have 'Point to Point' on the station. David did a good job. But the ratings were poor and we've mutually decided not to continue it. We're exploring other possibilities with David" . . .
Other sources indicate that chances are slim Schoumacher will return to WJLA although discussion of future documentaries is a possibility . . .
*Schoumacher said yesterday he will devote full time to his four radio stations and make occasional free-lance TV appearances. He is scheduled to anchor a PBS series on economics starting this fall . . .
NBC News President Larry Grossman says he was "stunned and disappointed" Monday at the reception he received from visiting TV writers here . . .
Grossman expected to field questions on his highly successful "NBC Nightly News," "Main Street" and "Today" lineup as well as about plans for his division . . .
Instead, after announcing that "Today's" Jane Pauley had signed a new long-term contract and revealing a partial list of replacements for Pauley after she departs on maternity leave in late July, all Grossman received for the next 45 minutes was criticism over NBC's handling of the terrorist Mohammed Abul Abbas' interview a few weeks ago . . .
As a group, TV reporters are at least as liberal as the American public suspects the network news organizations they write about really are . . .
And ordinarily they'd be all over a news division president only if he'd failed to air an interview with the Devil himself, especially if he were a Republican . . .
But an Arab terrorist with a price on his head who acknowledges his complicity in the murder of Americans is apparently beyond the pale and beyond the normal rules of journalism . . .
After the Q&A, Grossman said he was "stunned and disappointed. Some of the questions were pretty dumb" . . .
Two of the reporters had asked why NBC correspondent Henry Champ hadn't made a "citizen's arrest" of the heavily guarded Abbas when his interview in Algeria was concluded . . .
That aside, Grossman announced the network has torn up Pauley's contract with two years remaining on it in favor of a new long-term pact . . .
He also said she goes on leave right after the royal wedding coverage July 21-23 and will return Oct. 10 . . .
In the meantime, the first six of her temporary replacements as coanchor on "Today" were listed as Gloria Steinem, Ann Garrells, Ann Rubinstein, Carol Marin, Pat Mitchell and Jean Innersen . . .
One NBC News executive said several on that list will be getting a hard look as possible replacements for Connie Chung on "NBC News at Sunrise" and as a potential anchor for the Sunday version of "Today" the network is still considering . . .
NBC has apparently dropped the idea of a Saturday version of "Today" because of the continuing success of the morning kiddy lineup . . . but the Sunday morning version -- maybe between 7 and 9 a.m., before affiliates air their religious programs -- could be on the air sometime next year . . .
Revenue-fat NBC has quietly notified about 35 of the 100-plus reporters who regularly attend these press junkets (to L.A. in January, to New York in October and March) that the network will no longer pick up their tabs (the rest, like hard-working Captain Airwaves, attend at their newspapers' expense) . . .
Hard-pressed ABC is expected to second the NBC motion soon, leaving only CBS to pick up the increasingly expensive hotel bills over increasingly long tour sessions -- which can add up to nearly eight weeks in a year now . . .
"CBS Evening News" regained the top spot in the weekly network news race last week with a 10.4 Nielsen rating and a 22 percent audience share . . .
"NBC Nightly News," which made first place for the first time in 213, er, 214 weeks just last week, was back in second with a 9.7/22, followed by "ABC World News Tonight" with a 9.4/21 . . .
RCA executive Tom Ross has been named senior vice president of NBC News . . .
Ross was formerly with the Washington bureau of the Chicago Sun-Times and a Defense Department undersecretary during the Carter administration . . .
Visiting TV writers were buzzing this week over NBC's "L.A. Law," Steve ("Hill Street Blues") Bochco's upcoming series on an L.A. law firm . . .
C. Airwaves wasn't all that ecstatic -- he thought there were a few too many barristers in the ensemble, too many of whom looked like matinee idols and spoke 1960s -- but he quibbles. It should be a hit . . .
Airwaves' favorite so far is "ALF," the series about an alien who is taken in by a family when his spacecraft from the planet Melmac crashes on their garage roof . . .
He immediately won Airwaves' heart when he tried to snack on the family cat . . .
When the suspicious next-door neighbor peers through the blinds and spots ALF she shouts to her husband: "It looks like a cross between a kangaroo and an aardvark" . . .
Husband from the other room: "Don't be so hard on yourself . . . " TV Ratingzzz
Following are the top 20 network prime-time shows last week, ranked according to the percentage of the nation's 85.9 million TV households that watched, as measured by the A.C. Nielsen Co. A share represents the percentage of actual sets-in-use tuned to a particular program when it aired. [See original source]
NBC won the week ending June 15 with a 12.8 Nielsen rating and a 25 percent audience share, followed by ABC with a 10.4/20 and CBS with a 9.91/19.