The Miss America Pageant averaged an 18.4 rating and a 38 percent audience share in Nielsen's 24 big-city overnight ratings Saturday ...

That's down from the 20.0/38 overnights a year ago (actually, Sept. 16, 1989), which finally resulted in a 20.0/41 and a third-place finish in the national rankings for that week ...

In Washington Saturday night, the pageant did a 15.7/31 on Channel 4 from 10 to midnight. Each local ratings point represents 17,278 TV homes ...

Pageant Postscript: Talk show host Larry King, one of the seven pageant "celebrity judges," had a couple of unkind things to say about Miss Pennsylvania (Marla Winne) yesterday when he appeared on "The Joan Rivers Show" up in New York ...

Rivers asked King, "Who was the ugliest of the group, did you think?" That drew a boo from the audience but King replied: "Pennsylvania."

Wait a second, said Rivers, "she still got to be Miss Pennsylvania. It's not like she's a pig!" ...

King: "Wait a minute ... and she was one of the 10 finalists and she did a great ventriloquist bit. She did a pretty vent ... the dummy was prettier" ...

"She was very -- Where did we get on this? We didn't vote on beauty. The prettiest girl didn't win. In fact, the best one did" (Miss Illinois, Marjorie Judith Vincent) ...

Later, Rivers said: "Do they ask if they are virgins? Because they are all a little older -- 22 and 23?" ...

"There are no virgins," King replied.

"Don't look at me," said Rivers.

King responded, "You're Jewish, so there's a chance."

A spokesman for the syndicated show reported later that a woman identifying herself as an aunt of Miss Pennsylvania called both the show and WNBC in New York, where it aired at 3 p.m. yesterday, to complain ...

WJLA in Washington, where the show aired at 10 a.m., reported no phone calls ...

King told a reporter late yesterday, back in Washington: "I was kidding. It was all a joke. I thought she was a terrific talent; she wasn't the prettiest, she wasn't the ugliest. I was just having fun. The audience was having fun ...

"I apologize if I said anything to cause her pain. She was very sweet and she deserved to be in the final 10. I was just kidding" ...

A spokesman for the show said late yesterday that Winne is tentatively scheduled to appear on tomorrow's "Joan Rivers Show" ...

Besides King, the celebrity judges were Delta Burke, Nell Carter, John Forsythe, Shirley Jones, Sidney Sheldon and Cynthia Sikes ...

The Washington Redskins-Phoenix Cardinals NFL tilt Sunday on Channel 9 averaged a 24.1 Nielsen rating and a 54 share between 1 and 4:06 p.m. ...

One more Ratingzzz Note this morning, TV Column fans:

FOX Broadcasting's "America's Most Wanted" began its third season Friday night, expanded to a full hour. It averaged a 6.9/14 in the national Nielsen ratings. The premiere of FOX's "DEA," which followed, averaged a 5.5/10 ...

As usual, the FOX lineup in Washington far exceeded the national returns ...

Channel 5 recorded an 11.3/20 for "America's Most Wanted," as it easily beat the competition on the other network affiliates ...

And "DEA," premiering on the network, did a 9.0/15, finished third behind "Night Court" on Four and "Night Walk" on Nine ...

Election Night ReportsD.C. Mayor Marion Barry will join Jim Vance and Doreen Gentzler at Channel 4 tonight to comment on the the mayoral primary, after the results are in (the independent D.C. council candidate won't comment on the other races) ...

Alvin Thornton of Howard University will be the principal commentator on election results for the station. Four will air "Matlock" from 8 to 9, the Bush speech from 9 to 9:40, followed by the Democratic response, and more "Matlock" from 10 to 11. Following a 45-minute newscast, the Deborah Norville special "Kids & Sports: Taking the Risk" will air from 11:45 until 12:45 a.m., when Johnny Carson is joined in progress ...

The station plans to break in with early balloting results probably twice an hour after the polls close ...

Channel 5 will offer updates on the results on the half-hour preceding the 10 o'clock news, which will be extended to 90 minutes and perhaps longer should some of the races prove close. No outside expert will be used in the newscast ...

Channel 7 is calling on the expertise of Ron Walters of Howard University. Besides the usual cut-ins with early results, the ABC affiliate plans an hour-long news, starting at 11 p.m. ...

Channel 9 will provide the longest coverage of the D.C. election, preempting CBS programming at 10 p.m. for an "Eyewitness News Special" anchored by Maureen Bunyan and Chris Gordon for the hour. The regular 11 p.m. newscast, largely devoted to the election results, will follow. WUSA has no plans to use an outside expert ...

Channel 26 will provide crawls and voice-overs during the evening to give D.C. election results. The station will also carry President Bush's address to Congress, followed by commentary (billed as a MacNeil/Lehrer Special Edition). The speech will be repeated at midnight ...

In Other NewsJohn Chancellor, commentator for "NBC Nightly News," will return to the air tonight, his first appearance since undergoing a double heart bypass on June 27 ...

Chancellor will appear once a week until October when he resumes his regular schedule ...

Speaking of NBC News, its four hours of live coverage of the Helsinki summit Sunday from 8 to noon averaged a 4.4/15 on Channel 4, outdistancing the competition on WJLA (ABC) and WUSA (CBS) during the same time period ...

For the Futures File: Don't be surprised if there's a change in the look of "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" in a few weeks. The new regime thinks the current graphics clutter the screen, and Dan -- at least when he's home in New York -- looks like he's broadcasting from a cave ...

Tonight's ABC News special with Peter Jennings, "A Line in the Sand" (Channel 7 at 10 p.m.), will include minutes of the July 25 meeting between U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, which ABC obtained from Iraqi sources, during which Saddam spelled out options concerning Kuwait only days before Iraq moved over the border ...

The Discovery Channel has announced that former president Jimmy Carter will conduct a "presidential-style" briefing on the Middle East on Sunday from 8 to 10 p.m. ...

"A Carter Center Briefing: Crisis in the Gulf" will include Carter and more than a half dozen statesmen, policy-makers and scholars "who will explore the economic, military, political, cultural and social issues" surrounding the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Carter, in his first extended TV discussion of the crisis, will serve as moderator ...