But first things first, TV Column fans:

The Washington Redskins-Detroit Lions matchup on CBS Sunday afternoon zoomed to a 37.2 local Nielsen rating and an awesome 72 percent share of the sets-in-use on Channel 9 twixt 1 and 4:10 p.m. (each rating point represents 15,851 TV homes)...

Channel 7 yesterday announced that Nancy Russo, an accredited meteorologist from WVUE in New Orleans, is joining the staff, starting tonight on the 5 p.m. news ...

She won't be full-time, however, until Dec. 1. This gets a little confusing, but for the time being she will do the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 5 p.m. weather. On Dec. 1, she'll start doing weekends plus her three days a week at 5 p.m., through December ...

Dave Sweeney, whose contract expires at the end of this month, is being asked to remain through December, to do the 6 and 11 p.m. weeknight weather as well as the 5 p.m. news when Russo isn't there...

Alan Eustis, the weekend weatherman, remains under contract and will spell Fred Weiss when the latter is on vacation, at least for the time being ...

You might remember that Sweeney, an Airwaves favorite, was notified in late summer that his contract wasn't going to be renewed this fall ...

NBC Entertainment yesterday announced that it is picking up a full season of "A Year in the Life," the first drama series renewed this fall by the network ...

The Tuesday night family drama, starring Richard Kiley, ranks 52nd among 78 series aired so far this year on all three networks with an 11.7 Nielsen rating and a 19 share, which makes it the weakest NBC entry that night, although "Highway to Heaven" in 41st and "St. Elsewhere" in 45th aren't world-beaters, either ...

As previously stated herein, Tuesday night on NBC probably faces a shakeup, but now we know at least one quality series will survive, somewhere, sometime on the network's shedyule ...

NBC earlier announced the renewal of two sitcoms, "A Different World" and "My Two Duds" ...

Also in the News

Fox Broadcasting announced yesterday that Paul Robins and Phil Cowan will co-anchor "The Wilton North Report," which debuts Nov. 30 as a replacement for "The Late Show" ...

Robins and Cowan have been a radio team featuring talk and comedy since college days. They started in commercial radio with a Sacramento station and after taking their show to stations in Detroit and Dallas returned to Sacramento, where in 1986 they joined KCRA, the NBC-TV affiliate there ...

A Fox spokesman described the format for the revamped show, which originally debuted as a vehicle for Joan Rivers, as "an irreverent, unpredictable, out-of-focus look at the news" ...

It will air live at 11:30 p.m. on Fox affiliates, including Fox-owned Channel 5 here ...

Candice Bergen will host NBC's "Saturday Night Live" the night of Nov. 21. Cher will be there to sing, too ...

Which reminds us, when Sonny and Cher were reunited on last Friday's "The David Letterman Show," that series racked up a 6.8 Nielsen rating and a 27 share in Nielsen's 15 big markets, the best Letterman has done on a Friday since the show joined the "live" Friday shedyule last summer ...

And while we're babbling on, Bergen, as the "Mayflower Madam," scored a 22.8/35 in Nielsen's 15 market overnights Sunday night on CBS. That beat out "Perry Mason: The Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel" on NBC, which did a 19.0/29 in the Nielsen overnights ...

In Washington, not surprisingly, "Madam" outdid herself with a 26.4/42 on Channel 9, while "Scoundrel" did a 15.7/24 on Channel 4 ...

And from our Come to Think of It, Zippo Does Sound Kind of French file: We've had several calls alleging that Thursday night, during the conclusion of "Napoleon and Josephine: A Love Story" on ABC, a chap used a cigarette lighter to warm up a cart loaded with explosives intended to blow up Nap in an assassination attempt. The network yesterday promised a shocked Captain Airwaves that it would look into the allegations ...

Busy, busy NBC also announced yesterday that Barbara Mandrell will host the sixth annual "Christmas in Washington" special, which will air Monday night, Dec. 21 ...

The one-hour program will be taped a few days earlier at the Pension Building before an invited audience. Joining Barbara on the show will be Marilyn McCoo, Jack Jones, the Vienna Choir Boys, the Shiloh Baptist Church choir, the U.S. Military Academy Glee Club and Stefan Milenkovic, a 10-year-old violinist ...

Michael Tcherkassky has resigned after 13 years as a videotape editor at WRC ...

He is expected to join the staff of CBS News' upcoming "48 Hours" as a free-lancer ...

In 1985, Tcherkassky took a first prize in editing in the White House Press Photographers Association annual competition for an "American Almanac" segment -- which never did air on the network ...

Channel 26 yesterday said that reruns of "AIDS: Changing the Rules" on four nights and one afternoon last week had a cumulative Nielsen rating of 6.8, indicating it reached a cumulative audience of 108,880 TV homes in the Washington market over the five days ...

Endlich

CBS News, which was running out of time and candidates, yesterday announced that Dallas-based CBS correspondent Harry Smith has been named as male co-anchor of "CBS This Morning." (That title, like Smith, is now official) ...

The 7 to 9 a.m. show debuts Monday, Nov. 30, a brief 70 hours after the expiration of "CBS Morning Program," which has occupied the 7:30 to 9 a.m. timeslot since January ...

Smith joins anchor Kathleen Sullivan, whom CBS lured away from ABC News earlier this year with a $1 million annual salary ...

The balding, bespectacled, bow-tie clad, 36-year-old Smith is not exactly a household name but has reported on major Southwest stories for "CBS Evening News" since joining the network last year. He also did a report from Pakistan on Afghan rebels for CBS News ...

Ten years ago, he was an overnight radio disc jockey in Denver. After a radio job in Cincinnati, Smith returned to Denver, where he was a public affairs talk show host for the public TV station in 1981 before joining KMGH, the CBS affiliate in Denver the next year. He had covered hard news at KMGH for 18 months before CBS hired him ...

Smith's official CBS re'sume' points out that in pursuit of human interest stories, he has trailed cattle during a roundup, mined for gold, played football in the short-lived United States Football League, played the tuba and conducted the Denver Symphony Orchestra. Which probably tells us more about the USFL and the Denver Symphony Orchestra than it does about Harry ...

His wife, Andrea Joyce, is a sports anchor and reporter for WFAA in Dallas ...

Another NBC Holiday note: "Miami Vice's" Philip Michael Thomas will host the "Motown Merry Christmas" musical and variety special the night of Dec. 14 ...

Joining Thomas will be Smokey Robinson, Natalie Cole, the Temptations and the Pointer Sisters ...

Following the Motown special that night on NBC will be the very un-Christmassy "Secrets Women Never Share," during which host Merv Griffin will seek the answer to such questions as "should older women date younger men?" ...

Revealing their "secrets" will be Raquel Welch, Joan Collins, Carol Burnett, Brigitte Nielsen, Shelley Long and Lauren Bacall ...