More sad times at CBS News, as some 16 employes of "Nightwatch" were given their notices yesterday at the Washington bureau, reducing the late-night program's roster to 21 . . .
Affected were a free-lance senior producer, a producer, a writer, technicians and broadcast associates . . .
CBS News Washington Bureau Chief Jack Smith spent the day notifying those being cut . . .
The dismissals were in addition to the 70 employes dropped last month by CBS News. At that time, CBS News President Van Gordon Sauter warned that additional cuts were to be expected at "Nightwatch" . . .
The program, which airs from 2 to 6 a.m. on week nights, started in New York in October 1982 and moved to Washington in January 1984, when Charlie Rose took over as host . . .
The move, enabling Rose and then-CBS correspondent Lark McCarthy to tap the political and cultural resources of the D.C. area, proved to be a successful one, although ratings were minuscule compared with primetime audiences . . .
For the first 29 weeks of 1986, "Nightwatch" has averaged a 1.2 Nielsen rating (or about 1 million TV homes) and a 21 percent share of the late-night national audience . . . That's up 20 percent over last year . . .
At one time, the Washington roster had 43 permanent employes . . .
Although CBS executives in New York appreciated the kind of upscale, if small, audiences and the opportunity provided by "Nightwatch" to give Washington's power structure air time on CBS, the program has been on thin ice for some time . . .
In June, Executive Producer John Huddy was placed on paid leave while CBS conducted an investigation of allegations of sex discrimination made against Huddy . . .
A week later, on June 24, Huddy resigned "in protest," calling the investigation "shocking and unfair." At the time CBS issued a statement saying that "Huddy tendered his resignation at the conclusion of an internal investigation by CBS management into the grievances alleged by staff members against him. . . .
"The grievances expressed by staff members included several specific allegations of misconduct" . . .
At the time, CBS officials declined to comment on precisely what events led to the probe or the findings of the investigation, but specifically denied some published reports that Huddy had been accused of soliciting sexual favors . . .
Since that time the acting executive producer has been Vicki Sufian, who was brought down to Washington during the investigation . . .
Yesterday, Smith said that with the personnel cuts, taping will henceforth be done in the morning only. As a result, he said, program content will be "more topical, with not as much breaking news" . . .
He said the program will retain segments produced in Los Angeles on popular culture, sports and entertainment. "We'll pull a lot from L.A.," he said . . .
"This is a painful day for everybody," said Smith. "The program has a great future and it's the people who have worked with it who have made it a great broadcast -- and we're losing some of them today" . . .
He said that although contracts of different lengths are involved, he hoped that most of the employes can stay on the job through the transition period, until Sept. 5 . . .
Rose is slated to anchor "The CBS Morning News" for two weeks at the end of this month. Correspondent Fred Graham, who has appeared frequently on "Nightwatch," will substitute for Rose on the late-night show during that time . . .
* Coincidentally John Huddy revealed yesterday that he is embarking on a career in motion pictures. He will coproduce "Gaby Brimmer," a $5 million film costarring Liv Ullmann and Argentine film star Norma Aleandro, who triumphed in "Official Story" last year . . .
The film is based on the true story of a severely handicapped woman living in Mexico who has the use of only her left foot but becomes a famed writer and poet . . .
Huddy, a former film critic for The Miami Herald, said an unknown actress will be signed for the title role. In addition to his coproducing chores, he will work on marketing and publicity for the motion picture, which is to be filmed mostly on location in Mexico . . .
He said financing for the film comes from New York banking interests. He and his family are moving to Los Angeles . . .
Still bitter over the CBS probe -- he is contemplating legal action in connection with media coverage of the story -- Huddy said yesterday, "I'm very grateful to the Nightwatch Vigilante Committee for making this possible" . . .
* Also in the News Today is reporter Pat Collins' 40th birthday and those fun folks out at Channel 4 "are planning a few surprises for Pat" . . .
And are those fun folks who run the news at Channel 7 or maybe Channel 4 planning a few surprises for Channel 9? . . .
Gordon Peterson, the WUSA anchor affectionately -- and correctly -- referred to as "The Franchise" around 4001 Brandywine NW -- has a new contract coming up later this year . . .
People who know about such things say Gordo, who probably pulls down between $375,000 and $400,000 annually (plus a lot of extras like insurance), can probably double that this time around . . . he's that good and that dominant in the Washington market . . .
In case the new Gannett management at Nine hasn't been filled in, Channel 4 sweet-talked Gordo away a couple of years ago. Then a local judge read his old contract with Channel 9 and made Channel 4 sweet-talk him right back . . .
Channel26 will have live gavel-to-gavel coverage today of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Judge Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Court of Appeals, who has been nominated by President Reagan to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court . . .
Two hours of "highlights" from the hearings will air on WETA starting at 11 p.m. . . .
"Remembering the Bomb," which airs on Channels 26 and 32 tonight at 9 p.m., was produced and directed by Washington independent Steve York, who has done work for "Frontline" and worked with Bill Moyers at PBS . . .
Thefilm centers around the 1985 ceremonies at Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park, where 60,000 gathered to remember Aug. 6, 1945, when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city . . .
Two Americans who had significant roles in dropping the bomb and two Japanese who were in the city at that time are interviewed . . .
* The Ratingzzz The A.C. Nielsen computer called in sick yesterday down in Florida, TV Ratings fans . . .
Dr. Goodcolumn recommends two aspirin and a good night's sleep for all TV Ratings fans -- and the A.C. Nielsen computer . . .
If all goes well, Dr. Goodcolumn says the weekly primetime numbers will pop up tomorrow morning . . .