Forrest Sawyer, unhappy with his progress at CBS News and mulling some attractive offers from outside the network, has resigned, effective immediately ...

Since January, he and Faith Daniels have co-anchored the "CBS Early Morning News" from 6 to 7:30 a.m. In addition, Sawyer has anchored the Sunday edition of "CBS Evening News" every other weekend ...

Sawyer joined CBS News in July 1985 from the network's Atlanta affiliate, WAGA. He made a good impression as early morning news anchor with Daniels and in September 1985 was made co-anchor with Maria Shriver of the two-hour "CBS Morning News" show ...

Although the ratings for the all-news and information program were about 50 percent higher than its current successor, "The Morning Program," CBS News moved the pair from the program in August 1986 as the division prepared to make the big change in January. Shriver subsequently left for NBC News, and Sawyer spent the next four months in the London bureau before returning this January to take over the early morning show again ...

With the introduction in January of "The Morning Program," at the odd hour of 7:30, Sawyer and Daniels took over a 90-minute slot that began at 6 a.m. weekdays ...

Sources yesterday said Sawyer received a substantial settlement on his contract, which had about one year to run ...

According to his agent, Art Kaminsky, Sawyer had once been promised by then-CBS News president Van Gordon Sauter that he would have to spend only a year working the early morning hours. But in recent months, with the deadline long past, Sawyer began questioning which direction he was headed at the network ...

He met with CBS News president Howard Stringer concerning his career about 10 days ago ...

"The grind had begun to get to him," Kaminsky said yesterday. "He's received inquiries from syndicated programs, other networks and even PBS over the past months, and he finally decided he had better things to do elsewhere" ...

Sawyer reportedly wanted more primetime exposure, which Stringer was unable to guarantee at this time ...

"Howard was very friendly," said Kaminsky, "and expressed the hope that eventually Forrest will eventually return to the network, and I certainly don't rule that out" ...

Sawyer was scheduled to make a speech in Atlanta yesterday, so both parties decided to call it quits as of Wednesday's appearance. Daniels is expected to comment on his departure on this morning's broadcast ...

In a statement yesterday, Stringer called Sawyer "a first-rate journalist, an incisive interviewer and a true gentleman. All of those qualities enhanced the "CBS Morning News" at a critical time. We are truly disappointed that he is leaving to pursue other opportunities now. We wish him tremendous success and we would welcome him back anytime" ...

Sawyer's Departure

Comes at a time when the future of the morning lineup on CBS is way up in the air. Rumors persist that in response to affiliate pressure, the network will jettison "The Morning Program" in its current form no later than the end of the year, or at least replace Mariette Hartley and perhaps Rolland Smith as the low-rated show's co-hosts ...

Inevitably, this speculation has sparked further rumors that the CBS News division will reclaim the 90 minutes now filled by "The Morning Program," a hybrid operation that answers neither to CBS News nor to CBS Entertainment but rather to the office of Tom Leahy, president of the CBS television network ...

The speculation about a revivified "CBS Morning News" has centered on who would anchor the program. Kaminsky yesterday denied talk at CBS News that Sawyer left because he had not been offered his old job back, if and when. "No way," said the agent. "Like I said, Forrest was tired of the early morning grind" ...

In New York, when they talk about morning changes, they talk about ABC News' Kathleen Sullivan these days. She has yet to sign a new contract with ABC and is believed to be considering several attractive offers ... including one from CBS News ...

CBS officials will not confirm their interest. But it is known that King World, the very successful syndicator, is considering a daytime show with Sullivan as host (her agent is on the board of King World). And Steve Friedman, who is preparing a show for GTG Entertainment in Burbank modeled on the USA Today national newspaper, has openly expressed his interest in obtaining her as a principal anchor for the show, which could debut next September ...

One insider said yesterday, "I don't think CBS has made a decision on 'The Morning Program' yet. They can't figure out whether to make the change first or line up some impressive anchors first. That could be another month or two off before a decision is made" ...

Lots More Dots

Jessica Hahn, whose allegations lost Jim Bakker an empire and gained Playboy a $1 million cover story, appears Monday on "Good Morning America." A spokesman for the ABC show says Hahn is scheduled for around 7:30 a.m. ...

ABC seems to have found new life for its key Wednesday night lineup -- which helped keep the network minimally competitive last season ...

In their debuts between 9 and 10 on Wednesday, "Hooperman" and "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story" proved to be very strong performers. The John Ritter vehicle registered a 21.5 national Nielsen rating and a 35 percent audience share; Dabney Coleman scored an 18.2/31 (each rating point represents 886,000 TV homes) ...

Earlier, ABC's "Perfect Strangers" returned to a 15.2/37, "Head of the Class" built to a 17.4/29, and, with John and Dabney gone, "Dynasty" returned with a smaller 16.5/28 ...

A two-hour season premiere of "The Equalizer" on CBS did a 14.4/24 ...

Now This

CBS Entertainment, by the way, has decided to keep the new "Frank's Place" on Monday night. The program was originally slated to air at 8 p.m. Saturday after early season tryouts on Monday. But it has done so well in two outings at 8 p.m. Monday, the network made the switch permanent ... "Kate & Allie" will move to 8:30 p.m. Monday on a regular basis ...

"Everything's Relative," originally scheduled for 8:30 p.m. Monday, now moves to 8:30 on Saturdays, while "My Sister Sam" will take Frank's old place at 8 p.m. Saturdays. They both premiere Oct. 3 ...

John Ireland has been chosen to be the new head of the Ponderosa Ranch in a two-hour TV movie called "Bonanza: The Next Generation," which will be syndicated nationally early next year ...

Ireland, who starred in the final year of "Rawhide," will play Jonathan Aaron Cartwright, the younger brother of Ben Cartwright. He comes to the ranch to take over after the death of his brother ...

Lorne Greene, who played Ben in the series that ran on NBC from 1959-73, died earlier this month. He had originally been scheduled to appear in the TV movie, the only one of the original cast to do so ...

Gaylord Productions hopes to make a weekly series out of the special ...

Thomas Magnum, who wears a Detroit Tigers cap every chance he gets on the CBS show, has become a Tigers stockholder in real life ...

Thomas Monaghan, owner of the baseball team, announced that Tom Selleck, who plays Magnum, was given 10 shares of secondary stock in the team when he visited the set of Selleck's show in a recent trip to Hawaii ...

Bill Cosby, star of NBC's "The Cosby Show" and recently named the world's highest-paid entertainer, will receive a United Nations medal Monday for leading a campaign to free jailed black South African activists ...

U.N. officials said Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar will make the presentation at a ceremony in the U.N. Economic and Social Council chamber ...

Forbes magazine recently reported that Cosby's income this year and last is $84 million ...