David Verdi, producer of "This Week with David Brinkley," is leaving ABC News after 10 years to become a show producer for "NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" in New York ...

He starts Oct. 15. A few weeks back, "This Week" lost Verdi's predecessor in the job to CBS News when Marianna Spicer-Brooks defected to become executive producer of "Face the Nation" ...

And Elyse Weiner, who has been a producer on "This Week With David Brinkley," moves to "ABC World News Tonight With Peter Jennings" in Washington in November. She's been at the network for 12 years ...

The man who appeared on ABC News's "20/20" on Friday claiming he played Buckwheat in the classic "Our Gang" comedies was an impostor, according to both the actor who played Spanky and the co-author of a book about the Hal Roach comedy series ...

George "Spanky" McFarland, 62, said the real Buckwheat has been dead nearly 10 years ...

"Buckwheat ain't giving no more interviews," said Richard W. Bann, who watched the segment, narrated by co-host Hugh Downs, in Los Angeles ...

McFarland said the real Buckwheat was William "Billy" Thomas. "I don't have the slightest idea who he was but he wasn't Buckwheat," he said of the man who appeared on "20/20" after watching the program at his Fort Worth home ...

The actor said he last saw the real Buckwheat at an "Our Gang" reunion in L.A. in 1980, shortly before Thomas died of a heart attack ...

The man on the program identified himself as Bill English, saying he had changed his name from Bill Thomas. The "20/20" segment claimed that an elderly man who portrayed Buckwheat was found working as a grocery bagger in Tempe, Ariz... .

"20/20" spokeswoman Maurie Perl told AP the show thought it had the right Buckwheat. "We did our research, and to the best of our knowledge we're not aware that he passed away," she said ...

In "Our Gang: The Life and Times of the Little Rascals," Bann and co-author Leonard Maltin said that William "Billy" Thomas appeared in 89 "Our Gang" films from 1934 until the series ended in 1944. The series of 221 short films and one of feature length began in 1922 ...

AP reported it had been unable to trace the man who appeared on the ABC News show ...

In Other News

"Good Morning America's" Charles Gibson has landed the first American TV interview with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal. Both are Princeton, Class of '65, according to a GMA spokesperson ...

The interview, which will be taped at a New York hotel today, will air tomorrow in the 7 a.m. half-hour ...

ABC Entertainment has picked "Dinosaurs," a live-action comedy, as a midseason primetime replacement series ...

The series will be the first to be produced by Jim Henson Productions and the Walt Disney Co. since Henson's death earlier this year ...

"Dinosaurs" will feature a human-sized family of dinosaurs and their "blowhard, bombastic dad." The series will "utilize state-of-the-art technology, taking puppetry and audio animatronics to a new level," according to ABC, which neglected to tell Captain Airwaves just what "audio animatronics" really involves ...

Brian Henson, Jim's son, said "this new technology will enable the dinosaur characters to be more expressive and more responsive than any characters we've created to date, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" ...

Variety last week said CBS Entertainment is going ahead with its plans for a late-night lineup of five new action-adventure dramas starting in January, which leaves the future of the brand-new CBS News series "America Tonight" up in the air ...

On Friday, CBS News introduced the team of Edie Magnus and Robert Krulwich as Friday night replacements for "America Tonight" Monday-Thursday co-anchors Lesley Stahl and Charles Kuralt. Krulwich continues as economics and business correspondent on "CBS This Morning" and as a contributor to "48 Hours" and "Evening News" ...

But we keep hearing Krulwich is on the top of the list to eventually replace Charlie Rose as anchor of CBS News's "Nightwatch" ... which is currently being anchored by committee ...

End of Ratingzzz Free Zone

Well, everybody promised that Thursday night could be the most interesting night of the new season ...

This week, original episodes of Fox's "The Simpsons" will finally debut against "The Cosby Show" on NBC, and on Oct. 18, NBC will return "L.A. Law" for a new season in the 10 p.m. timeslot ...

But last Thursday's baseball attraction on CBS, Game 1 in the National League Championship Playoff Series between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, fell right into the dugout ...

(CBS's playoff coverage could also take over this week's Thursday night lineup -- if Oakland-Boston goes to a fifth game, anyway) ...

This past Thursday, the pregame show at 8 averaged a dismal 8.6 national Nielsen rating and a 15 percent audience share. The Pirates-Reds game that followed did a 12.2/21 from 8:30 to 11:41 ...

Each ratings point represents 931,000 TV homes ...

Those meanies at NBC research promptly revealed that Game 1 on CBS had produced the lowest-ever primetime baseball playoff rating since the playoff system began in 1970 -- save for a 1988 NL contest between the Mets and the Dodgers that didn't get underway until 10 p.m. EDT out on the West Coast ...

But CBS research countered that "the game drew only slightly less viewers than last year's first playoff game {a 12.8/22 on NBC}, even though up against NBC's Thursday night lineup" (italics ours) ...

Well, it might have been "slightly less" to CBS, but the loss was more than 600,000 TV homes from the previous year's opener ...

Peter Tortorici, senior vice president, program planning and scheduling for CBS Entertainment, pointed out that the "game performed as well as our schedule last week, and first games are historically a poor performer" ...

Otherwise last Thursday, NBC was an easy winner for the night, as usual, averaging a 16.3/27. "Cosby" led off with a 19.5/33, followed by a 19.4/31 for "A Different World" (which aired the McMillions promotion), "Cheers" at 21.1/33, the season premiere of "Grand" at 15.8/25 and "Law & Order" at 10.9/20 ...

ABC's "Father Dowling Mysteries" averaged a 10.6/17, followed by "Gabriel's Fire," 10.0/16, and "Primetime Live," 11.3/20 ...

On Fox, the last rerun (for a while, anyway) of "The Simpsons" averaged a 9.6/16, while the 90-minute premiere of "Beverly Hills, 90210" slid to a 7.2/12 ...

In Washington, the baseball game averaged a 7.6/14 from 8:30 to 11:38 on Channel 9 ... after a pre-game show 5.7/10 ...

Each local ratings point represents 17,491 TV homes ...

On Channel 4, the premiere of "Grand" at 11.8/21 represented a big audience fall-off from "Cheers," and the slide continued as "Law & Order," like law and order everywhere these days it seems, slumped even further, to an 8.1/16 ...

On Channel 7, Father Frank did an 11.3/19, "Gabriel's Fire" 10.4/18 and "PrimeTime Live" 11.9/23 ...

On Five, "The Simpsons" did a 9.7/17, while the premiere of "Beverly Hills, 90201" slumped to a 6.1/10 ...

Still considering Thursday, Tortorici explained the reasons behind the announcement last week that "The Flash," originally billed as head-to-head competition for Cosby and Bart Simpson, was being moved to an 8:30 start as of Oct. 25 ...

The CBS move also puts a half-hour version of its "Top Cops" in the 8 p.m. timeslot vs. Bill, Bart and Father Frank ...

Said Tortorici: "It's more advantageous going {with 'Flash'} against the competition at 8:30 {Fox's 'Babes,' NBC's 'Different World' and ABC's Father Frank}. A lot of the kids already have favorites in 'Cosby' and 'The Simpsons,' so moving 'Flash' gives them a chance to see the new show" ...

He said CBS research had indicated that "48 Hours," a Thursday night staple last season at 8, had a higher performance among men when more action-related topics were scheduled, hence the move of "Top Cops" ...

Men also seem to be also attracted to "The Flash," according to Tortorici ...

In moving "Doctor, Doctor" to 9:30, CBS is going at NBC's continued failure to hold the huge "Cheers" lead-in audience in that time period. "Obviously, a lot of people are looking around after 'Cheers,' " Tortorici said ...

Research shows that "Flash" appeals to kids, teens and men 18 to 49. Early tryouts of the CBS comic strip series show that the second half-hour of "Flash" draws audience from people who choose not to watch "Babes" ...

"Father Dowling," of course, is counterprogramming to attract an older audience, which delivers a satisfactory double-digit share in a time period that used to be solidly single-digit for ABC ...