John Long, executive vice president and general manager of Channel 7 since 1988, has resigned, effective July 1 ...

Long, who first joined Seven in 1972 as an account executive, plans to start his own broadcast consulting business in the area ...

Michael Moore, president and CEO of the Allbritton Communications station, said Friday he will assume the duties relinquished by Long and the positions will not be filled ...

Long informed Moore last week of his decision to leave. In a statement Friday, Moore praised him as "a talented man who has been very instrumental in our competitive success over the past few years. He will be missed by all of us. He deserves much credit for the enthusiasm, leadership and professionalism he demonstrated over the years" ...

During his tenure as GM, Long negotiated the acquisition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which has helped Seven in the tough early evening news battle, and conceived the idea for the 5 p.m. show "In Person." He was instrumental in making WJLA the first local station to offer closed-captioned news programs ...

The competition had warm words for Long as news of his departure spread through local broadcasting circles on Friday ...

Channel 9 general manager Hank Yaggi said, "I'm going to miss John. He's been in this marketplace for 18 years and I've known him for the almost 12 years I've been here as a tough competitor and a very good broadcaster. I'm going to miss him and I hope to see him do well in his new endeavors" ...

Allan Horlick, general manager of Channel 4, said that "over the last 20 years I've had a number of strong competitors but never one who's consistently displayed John's integrity, honesty and strong professional judgment. He's a good guy and I wish him well" ...

Long, who celebrated his 42nd birthday on Friday, said he plans to take a "little sabbatical and get to know the kids better and get my consulting business underway in August. I see an opportunity and I'm going to try and seize it" ...

He said the decision to leave "was not very complicated. But I'm leaving with a bittersweet feeling. I think the market here is in as competitive a situation as it's ever been" ...

He said he was especially proud of getting a morning news show on the air "that's competitive, and I think 'In Person' has been successful and we're doing well with those midnight specials on Mayor Barry's trial" ...

In a statement to the staff Friday he said, "I have spent close to 18 terrific years at WMAL/WJLA. It has been extremely gratifying to work with a group of people who are dedicated to being the best in the business. The station has been, and I'm sure will continue to be, aggressive, innovative and successful. However, I feel now is the right time to move into my own business" ...

This isn't the first time Long has left Seven, which he first joined when it was called WMAL. After rising to sales manager in 1977, he left the station in 1981 to go into private business, returning to the same job a year later ...

Now This

Channel 4 announced Friday that starting Monday, June 25, the station will air a weekday one-hour program called "The Mac McGarry Summer Comedy Club" in the 9 a.m. timeslot following the "Today" show ...

The new show will relegate "Steve Doocy's House Party" to the 2:30 a.m. timeslot, following "Later With Bob Costas," starting that same night (or early morning Tuesday) ...

"The Mac McGarry Summer Comedy Club" will feature two episodes each morning selected from a library of four ancient sitcoms -- "Father Knows Best," "Hazel," "The Donna Reed Show" and "The Flying Nun" ...

McGarry, the voice of Channel 4 and for the past 30 years the moderator of "It's Academic," will host the program from an armchair. During program breaks he will conduct a daily trivia contest and dole out other entertainment information and word of upcoming features on WRC ...

To maintain the nostalgia, McGarry will do local commercials in black-and-white and, through the magic of "chroma key," will periodically join the long-ago sitcom characters during some of his presentations ...

The station recently marked McGarry's 40th anniversary in the same Studio A where the new set will be located and where McGarry used to do live broadcasts back in the 1950s with people like Willard Scott and the late Jim Henson ...

If the summer tryout is successful, GM Horlick said Friday, the station may extend its run through the fall ...

The morning move by Four is a response to the introduction that same day of Channel 5's 2 1/2-hour news show between 6:30 and 9 a.m... .

In the past, Five has done well with a lineup of cartoons in the early morning hours, attracting up to 100,000 young people with the kiddie stuff ...

Horlick is hopeful that the old sitcom lineup will attract a good share of those youngsters, suddenly deprived of their cartoons and at loose ends on summer vacations, figuring Four can contend with Five and its "I Love Lucy" reruns at 9 for much of that audience, along with young mothers and older viewers naturally drawn to the sitcoms. The competition at 9 also includes Phil Donahue on Nine and "Geraldo" on Seven ...

"I hope the new show appeals to all generations," said Horlick ...

Doocy's "House Party," a production of NBC and Group W, has been a ratings disaster. While dispatching the hour to Nightowlsville, Horlick on Friday still maintained, "It's a good show and has been getting better and better since they got a new producer a few weeks ago" ...

In Other News

After meeting with two of his more prominent female correspondents Friday, "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" executive producer Paul Friedman vowed to recruit more women for on-air duties at the No. 1 network news show ...

Correspondents Carole Simpson and Sheilah Kast had requested the meeting after the release of a recent study showing ABC News lagged in third place behind CBS and NBC in the appearances of female correspondents on the evening network shows ...

The luncheon, in the executive dining room at ABC, also included Amy Entelis, ABC vice president for recruitment and development ...

Friedman called it a "very useful conversation. They brought me up to date on what's been happening at the network over the past five years. I explained to them that it's a very complicated issue. We'll talk some more. I know I should do it more often" ...

ABC currently has 15 female and 70 male reporters. He told a reporter he is recruiting women and minorities as reporters and is also on the lookout for women working in other jobs at ABC News for possible training as reporters ...

"We agreed there aren't enough female correspondents at ABC News from whom to draw for 'World News Tonight,' " said Friedman. "I'd love to use Lynn Sherr, for instance, but she's committed to '20/20.' I lent Karen Burnes to 'PrimeTime Live' and I'm still waiting to get her back" ...

On the Ratingzzz Rialto: Thursday night, Game II of the NBA finals between Detroit and Portland averaged a 12.2 national Nielsen rating and a 24 percent audience share from 9 p.m. to 12:33 a.m. Friday. Each ratings point represents 921,000 TV homes ...

ABC aired two original shows that night. The "American Red Cross Emergency Test" did a 9.7/17 at 9, while "PrimeTime Live," which tested our interest in teenage tarts in Southeast Asia, averaged a relatively strong 11.7/21 for the ABC News program ...

But NBC, with an original episode of "Seinfeld" scoring a 14.2/34 at 9:30, won the night ...

Speaking of "PrimeTime Live," as we were, it's apparent, after a recent conversation with executive producer Rick Kaplan, that the show has just about solved the Sam Donaldson-Diane Sawyer Chemistry Problem -- a curious malady whose progress has been noted by TV Critics on a regular basis this spring ...

There's been no formal announcement, but Sam has returned to his Washington Roots, and the long-distance hellos and goodbyes from D.C. and New York every Thursday seem to be the answer ...

ABC executives meet their affiliates out in Los Angeles this week. Channel 7 executives are expected to complain about the 10 p.m. lead-in shows that haven't helped their local news battle at 11 one bit this year ...

During their recent meeting with affiliates here, NBC executives admitted the network will make only $500 million this year instead of the $700 million projected by parent General Electric. About half that loss is due to a decline in ad revenues for "Today," and the other half is being blamed on further advertising revenue slippage due to faulty Nielsen counts that are missing large chunks of the TV audience in all dayparts ...

The network's answer is more personnel layoffs. The message has already gone out to those 2,373 NBC employees who belong to the National Association of Broadcast Employees & Technicians (NABET) in that announcement last week that the network will put its March 31 final contract offer into effect on Wednesday, June 20 -- a signal of direct confrontation with the union ...

Then there are those small moves that go largely unnoticed in a multi-billion-dollar organization. Like on Friday, when the network's already shorthanded entertainment press unit was cut from seven to five. One casualty was unit manager Virginia Holden, whose energy and diligence over the past decade have helped the TV Column tell the House of Hits's story honestly in good years and bad. Boy, will she be missed! ...