Channel 20 viewers contributed more than $710,000 to the fifth annual Children's Miracle Network Telethon over the weekend ...

The 21-hour telecast was seen on 180 stations in the United States and Canada and raised money for 151 participating children's hospitals, including Childrens Hospital National Medical Center here ...

WDCA's good performance was in spite of two blackouts caused by severe storms in the area ...

According to the sponsoring Osmond Foundation, early figures indicate a total of $38,685,555 was raised this weekend, a record -- and up from a $31 million total last year ...

NBC Entertainment president Brandon Tartikoff told network affiliates meeting in L.A. yesterday that "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson is cutting back to a three-night workweek this fall.

But before the station managers could wreck the Century Plaza ballroom, Tartikoff hastily assured them that during the crucial November, February and May ratings sweeps (which local stations use to establish future ad rates), Johnny will resume his current four-night schedule ...

The revised "Tonight Show" lineup will put Jay Leno in charge of the Monday night program, with "The Best of Carson" reruns moving to Tuesday night. Garry Shandling will join with Leno in divvying up the guest host weeks during the year when Carson vacations ...

Carson recently signed a new contract with the network and will celebrate his 25th anniversary on the show with a Sept. 24 primetime special ...

In 1980, he cut his nightly broadcast from 90 minutes to one hour and reduced his nights on the air from five to four ...

Leno, who is a Tartikoff favorite, began guest hosting on the "Tonight Show" last year. Shandling goes back to 1983 ...

The affiliates also learned that ABC Sports reject Joe Namath has signed a multi-year contract to join Marv Albert on one of NBC's NFL announcing teams starting this fall ...

Affiliates also met Maria Shriver and Boyd Matson, the anchor team for the new "Sunday Today" show, debuting in September ...

Shriver was introduced as a "veteran of 'CBS Morning News' " before she jumped to NBC in time to get a spot on the canceled "1986." She elicited chuckles from an audience of about 900 yesterday morning when she confessed, "I'm a little nervous. I've never appeared before so many people before" ...

Most interesting development out at the NBC affiliates meeting yesterday: After introducing the "Sunday Today" crew to the affiliates, Steve Friedman, executive producer of the "Today" show, reportedly went across town to take a major meeting with the head of a top TV production company ...

Although Friedman reportedly has nearly a year to go on his current contract with NBC, he's made no secret of a desire to try something else. Our sources indicate that such talk may well be something more than a negotiating tactic, and that some big TV producers, like Fox, Disney and former NBC chairman Grant Tinker's new GTG Entertainment, have expressed interest in the man who brought NBC back to number one in the early morning race ...

Moving Right Along Okay, Donna Rice fans. NBC Entertainment has scheduled a rerun the night of June 12 of the "Miami Vice" episode -- called "Forgive Us Our Debts" -- in which the key figure in the fall of Gary Hart appeared last year ...

According to NBC spokesman Brian Robinette, Rice "appears in the first two or three minutes of the show, during the 'tease.' She isn't in a bathing suit, she's dressed as a very conservative housewife named Ann Frankel who witnesses the murder of her husband. It's a flashback and she says two lines and screams" ...

And the sense of Moral Uplift didn't stop there with NBC. The network also announced that Don Johnson is among five "top creative talents" who will produce primetime Family Programs for the network next season ...

NBC assured affiliates that the "Miami Vice" star, "inspired by the thousands of pieces of mail he receives each week from his young fans, will tell a story with a strong anti-drug theme via live action, animation, and rock music" ...

With the Big Boys relying on reruns Sunday night, the Fox Broadcasting "network" came up with the best overnight ratings yet for its three-hour primetime fare ...

In the 14 major Nielsen markets, "21 Jump Street" averaged a 6.6 rating and a 13 share; "Married ... With Children" did a 6.2/11; "Duet," in its new time slot, did a 5.5/9, "Mr. President" doubled its best previous numbers with a 5.7/10 and "The Tracey Ullman Show" averaged a 4.5/7 ...

In Washington, the Fox lineup on WTTG averaged a 10.5/20 from 7 to 10 p.m., finishing second only to the CBS lineup on WUSA in this market for that time period (each rating point represents 15,800 TV homes)...

And George C. Scott, as "Mr. President," led all the rest locally with an 11.7/21, which puts the previously very low-rated George in line for the monthly Lazarus Award. At the very least ...

Laurence Tisch, president and chief executive officer of CBS, Inc., has taken vigorous exception to the thrust of an article by Barbara Matusow, appearing in the June issue of Washingtonian, called "The Incredible Shrinking Anchor," which claims Dan Rather is "being cut down to size" ...

In the article, Matusow reports "Tisch has been heard belittling his embattled anchorman. 'Why do I have to pay the number one salary to the number two anchorman?' he has said." ...

She also claims Tisch "was enraged and may be a long while forgetting" the op-ed article by Rather critical of the CBS president that appeared in The New York Times during the March turmoil at CBS News when 230 employes lost their jobs ...

Turns out that Tisch, apprised of the upcoming article, wrote Matusow last week that he "was angry and disappointed to read your article ...

"The quotation," wrote Tisch, "attributed to me is completely false. I have never entertained any such sentiment. I never spoke with you. From what I can determine, you never called my office nor anyone here to try to confirm it. To me, this represents a violation of basic journalist rules in an article about journalism. How ironic and irresponsible ...

"Dan Rather is the bedrock of CBS News," Tisch continued in his letter. "He is our emblem. He is indelibly wrapped into the fabric of that Division and this Company. To attribute such comments and opinions as you did, largely on unsourced quotes and plain hearsay, is inexcusable" ...

Matusow said she received Tisch's letter yesterday. Regarding the Tisch quote, she said, "I interviewed two dozen people and 10 relayed that quote to me. Tisch's views {on the problems at CBS News} are well represented" in the article. As for not checking with Tisch, she said "the last time I tried to get in touch with him {regarding an article for another publication}, I contacted {CBS executive} David Fuchs and I heard nothing further" ...

Rather, who has been on the road for more than two weeks, first for the CBS affiliates meeting in L.A. and then on location in the Soviet Union, still wasn't available yesterday ...

"He's on assignment, completing work on a documentary about the legacy of Vietnam," a spokesman for CBS News said yesterday ...

Diane Sawyer anchored "CBS Evening News" last night and will again tonight. Charles Kuralt will fill in for the rest of the week ...

Speaking of CBS, the Evening News baseball team beat ABC's "20/20" 10-8 in Central Park last Friday. It was a matter of evening things up (a little joke there, TV Column fans). "20/20" beat CBS twice last year, the only team ever to do so, according to CBS ...

More Local Ratingzzz According to Nielsen, Channel 9, the CBS affiliate, was number one in this market from sign-on to sign-off (7 a.m. to 1 a.m.) during May ...

But Arbitron placed WUSA and Channel 7, which was stuck with that poor ABC primetime schedule, in a tie for first ...

Here's the numbers, with Nielsen first and ARB in parentheses:

WUSA had an 8.0 rating and a 22 percent audience share (6/20). WJLA had a 7.2/20 (6/20), followed by Channel 4 (NBC) with 6.4/18 (5/15), Channel 5 (Independent) with 5.4/15 (5/17), Channel 20 (Independent) at 2.1/6 (2/5) and Channel 26 (PBS) at 1.0/3 (no ARB figures available) ...