Columnist, ABC News regular and unreconstructed Cubs fan George Will found himself standing next to Baseball Great Joe DiMaggio Tuesday morning on the White House lawn during the welcoming ceremonies for General Secretary Gorbachev ...

When the national anthem ended, George called out, "Play ball!" ...

It's not a totally fair comparison, but "Hunter" got a 13.9 rating and a 21 share Tuesday night in Nielsen's overnights when NBC substituted the Saturday night success in "J.J. Starbuck's" usual 9 p.m. Tuesday time slot ...

"J.J." had averaged a 12.7/20 in the national Nielsens in five appearances on Tuesday night to rank 47th among 80 series tried out on the networks so far this season ...

Saturday, "J.J." showed up in "Hunter's" 10 p.m. time slot and grabbed a 15.8/29 in the national ratings, which apparently has given NBC second thoughts about a pending cancellation for the old boy ... even though his performance wasn't up to the 17.4/34 "Hunter" has pulled so far this year to rank 15th among regular series (each national rating point represents 886,000 TV homes) ...

We don't have national figures for "Hunter" because the Nielsen computer threw a fit yesterday trying to figure out national ratings after ABC interrupted the Barbara Walters special Tuesday night for 20 minutes to cover the White House toasts of President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev ...

In the Nielsen overnights from 15 major markets, Barbara averaged a 23.8/36 overall. From 9 p.m. until the live interruption of her chat with Eddie Murphy, her show averaged a 25.4/38. The toast did a 20.2/30 and the conclusion of Barbara's special rose again, not to the same dizzying heights maybe but at least to a 22.3/35 ...

Rival networks had hinted that Ms. Walters had protested the interruption of her program to ABC News bosses. Walters, who met Raisa Gorbachev yesterday, told an ABC News spokesman that she was not at all miffed over the interruption and thought her program as well as the toasts were just fine. Honestly, rival networks! Why can't you fellows get along as well as Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev? ...

On another ABC News front, that "Nightline" that dropped in on the Soviet morning show "90 Minutes" late Tuesday averaged a 6.2/21 between 11:50 p.m. and 12:25 a.m. (there's that toast schedule slide, again) ...

"90 Minutes" airs from 7 to 8:30 a.m. in the Soviet Union, and with the delay, "Nightline's" live appearance just made it. Incidentally, caught up in the spirit of the summit, Ted Koppel held up a copy of the front page of The Washington Post so Russians could see how the visit is being covered here and the Soviet anchor held up a copy of Pravda to show how it's being covered over there (if only CBS, ABC and NBC could get along as well here in the United States!) ...

There Must

Be something in the air, TV Column fans! Out in Los Angeles, Terry Louise Fisher, co-creator and supervising producer of NBC's "L.A. Law," has been barred temporarily from active participation in the series ...

She and co-creator Steve Bochco and 20th Century Fox are locked in a dispute over what role she plays on the series next season ...

Current executive producer Bochco recently signed a multimillion-dollar deal with ABC to produce series and he wants to reduce his role with "L.A. Law" next year. Fisher and Fox had been negotiating for a new contract that would make her executive producer on "L.A. Law" next season ...

About 10 days ago, the negotiations broke down when, Bochco told the L.A. Times, Fisher both demanded an inappropriately large salary and asked that Bochco not be involved with the series next season ...

Fisher, for her part, says that she never demanded to become executive producer but that regardless, the salary she asked for if she became executive producer was still less than what Bochco now gets in the job. A week ago, Harris Katleman, president of 20th Century Fox Television Productions, sent Fisher a letter requesting that she cease attending story meetings and "discontinue communications with series personnel" during what Katleman called a "cooling-off period" aimed at settling the dispute ...

Bochco and Fisher also created "Hooperman" for ABC. Fisher told the Times the letter came after Bochco refused to let her into a meeting. "I love the show; I created the show," she said. "I feel like they've taken my job away from me. It's killing me" ...

Bochco said Fisher was temporarily removed from the show because the contract dispute, which had been going on since mid-November, had "created an extremely unpleasant environment here in the building (where the show is produced on the Fox lot). You have to have everybody pulling together to make the show work -- it's a tough job" ...

Fisher said she had sent a note to Bochco asking him to meet and discuss the situation but that he had refused ...

"L.A. Law," which tells of the high life at a high-priced Los Angeles law firm, is tied for 11th in the season ratings to date ...

Also in the News

Overlooked in the furor last week surrounding the pre-emption of "ALF" Monday night by NBC in favor of Mr. Gorbachev was the news that NBC's owned-stations division had officially added two more outlets, for a total of seven ...

New to the network are KCNC in Denver and WTVJ in Miami, which join stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland -- and WRC right here in Washington. Those stations now reach 22.3 percent of the available TV audience in this country. FCC limits network-owned stations to 25 percent coverage and, before deregulation stepped in, had also limited networks to just five stations, regardless...

ABC, which merged with Capital Cities a year ago, now has eight -- in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Houston, Fresno and Raleigh-Durham ... covering 24.4 percent of the country ...

CBS, which peddled its St. Louis station some time ago, has only four -- in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, covering a mere 19.5 percent ...

CBS, with a lot of unspent cash on hand, has been biding its time waiting for the outrageous station prices of recent memory to slide back. The network has had its eye on the potential of the Southwest and recently showed brief interest in a Florida station that was on the market ...

Footnote to Tom Cookerly's departure from the helm of Channel 7: During his 16-year tenure, seven of his employes have gone on to become station managers around the country ...

CBS, apparently trying to outflank ABC's upscale project called "Power House" -- next fall's one-hour weekly series that portrays a Washington public relations firm in the style of "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law" -- has a sitcom pilot in the works about a Washington lobbyist ...

It will star (will all Washington lobbyists please check their breakfast nook straps?) ... Carol Channing ...

ABC Entertainment announced yesterday that its first new series commitment for next season has gone to GTG Entertainment for "Down to Earth," a one-hour comedy-drama ...

The series will deal with a team of observers from another planet sent to Earth "to study our people and our culture" ...

This puts ABC in business with Grant Tinker, the miracle man who, with his MTM Productions, set new high standards for the industry in the 1970s and then, as chairman of the network, put NBC in first place in primetime in the 1980s ...

Tinker is a partner with Gannett Co. Inc. (hence the GT for Grant Tinker and G for Gannett in the firm's name, as if you hadn't already guessed) ...

As we hinted yesterday, Tinker has a five-year, 10-project deal with CBS, which gives that network first call on any GTG series idea. CBS already has a project similar to "Down to Earth" in the pipeline and so passed on it ...

Which means Earth will have lots of observers from other planets next year. We sure hope they don't tune into that CBS pilot and fly back home under the impression that all Washington lobbyists are just like Carol Channing!