That Thanksgiving Day turkey down in Big D proved to be just so much gravy for Channel 9 as the Redskins-Dallas NFL game averaged a 27.2 rating and a 57 percent audience share ...

If the Skins were carved up, it was Channel 4's 6 p.m. news that got the stuffing knocked out of it when Nine took advantage of that huge Redskins lead-in audience to air its "6 o'clock" local news show from approximately 7:19 until about 7:50, when Nine went to the final minutes of the syndicated "Entertainment Tonight" ...

The strategy had Channel 4 fuming on Friday when the Nielsen overnights arrived. Through last Wednesday, WRC's one hour of news at 6 p.m. had beaten WUSA's hour on 12 of 15 nights and was sitting with almost a full ratings point lead over WUSA (10.0/19 vs. 9.1/16) in the November sweeps competition for that time period so far ...

The November sweeps -- important to each station because audience averages for the 28-day period determine future advertising rates for each show -- conclude this Wednesday ...

On Thursday, Nine's local news came off a 27.2/57 audience count for the last 15 minutes of the Skins game to average a 20.5/46 in its first 15 minutes, settling for a still very strong 16.4/37 overall ... a local news number that Four fears will knock its through-Wednesday advantage into the broadcaster's equivalent of a cocked hat ...

Four, in fact, plans to ask A.C. Nielsen today whether Nine can get away with it ...

Nine's late-running 6 p.m. news "was the act of a desperate station," Four news director Kris Ostrowski grumbled on Friday ...

"Kris should bite her tongue," a news executive at Nine -- who asked for anonymity -- responded. "We had a very big news day and we had an opportunity for a newscast coming out of a large Redskins audience. Why shouldn't we have done it? I can think of a few occasions when Four has taken advantage of the Nielsen rules." ...

Four didn't air a local news in the early evening on Thanksgiving, going with the old movie "Come to the Stable" instead between 5 and 7, leading into "NBC Nightly News" ...

Seven likewise cushioned itself against the impact of the Redskins game, going with a couple of holiday game shows before airing a local news at 6 leading into "ABC World News Tonight." Just to make sure, Seven designated its abbreviated local news as a "special" so it wouldn't count in the November Nielsen figures (and a good thing, too; up against the Skins its news half-hour did a 2-plus rating) ...

Seven's half-hour of local news at 6, by comparison, has averaged a 6.8/13 through last Wednesday during the sweeps...

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

More Leftovers

PBS says that its sale of videocassettes to educational and community institutions rose to an all-time high of $1.025 million in October, with at least half of that sum attributable to sales of "The Civil War" ...

Since "Civil War" cassettes first went on sale before the Sept. 23-27 broadcasts on PBS, they have accounted for more than $1.5 million. Moreover, according to PBS Video, since the broadcasts PBS has received up to 250,000 calls, about three-quarters of which were from viewers interested in purchasing the Civil War for home viewing ...

NBC's "Lifestories" -- the well-done medical program that is probably too grim for a Sunday night audience once in a while -- is being pulled from the weekly schedule and will become a monthly series of specials ...

The last regular 8 p.m. broadcast will be Dec. 2. The first special "Lifestories" will air on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 10 p.m. ...

The series, a favorite project of NBC Entertainment Group chairman Brandon Tartikoff, has been on the critical list for sometime. The last time we looked at its chart, it was 85th in the season-to-date rankings with a life-threatening 6.6/10 average despite its good intentions ...

NBC earlier removed "Hull High" from the Sunday lineup, which can't compete against CBS's early evening juggernaut -- No. 2-ranked "60 Minutes" and 13th-ranked "Murder, She Wrote" ...

A network decision to scratch the final weekly episode of "Lifestories," dealing with AIDS, in favor of an episode about a youngster's battle against aplastic anemia, last week drew criticism from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ...

The AIDS episode, about two gays, one of them a TV newsman, would have aired the day after World AIDS Day, and the GLAAD group suspected advertiser and conservative groups of pressuring the network ...

But a network spokeswoman denied that fear of controversy had anything to do with the decision and said the AIDS episode would air at a later date as one of the monthly specials ...

As we reported earlier, NBC is developing a bare-bones alternative for the 7 p.m. Sunday slot, a lightheaded one-hour recap of "highlights" from the previous week's primetime schedule that will debut in January and shouldn't cost a nickel...

Meanwhile, NBC's "Midnight Caller," which has gone virtually unanswered in its 10 p.m. Friday time slot this fall, will get a Wednesday-at-9 tryout on Dec. 5, replacing "Dear John" and "The Fanelli Boys" for the night. Wednesday is another tough night for NBC -- which doesn't know how to capitalize on that big "Unsolved Mysteries" audience at 8 that night. "Unsolved" ranks 12th this season with a 16.6 rating average but its follow-on, "Jake & the Fatman," slips to a 13.2 rating and 39th place, and "Hunter" (24th last season in its Saturday night slot with a 14.9 ) is 42nd at 12.8 (Hey, look. The carcass has been picked clean, TV Column fans!) ...

CBS Entertainment Productions has made a deal with Britain's Granada Television -- whose "Brideshead Revisited" captivated PBS audiences a few years back -- to co-produce six TV movies over the next three years ...

CBS in a statement said the contract would allow for higher film budgets, greater production values and bigger stars ...

But the big gain will be in quality. Jeff Sagansky, president of CBS Entertainment, said "the level of Granada's commitment to quality was recognized at last year's Academy Awards. We are indeed fortunate to be working with them ...

Granada's "My Left Foot" took Oscars for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress in last year's Academy Awards ...

CBS Entertainment is also reportedly talking to Tokyo Broadcasting about the adaptation of a Japanese comedy hit that is similar to ABC's "America's Funniest Home Videos" ...

That reminds us: Maybe when you're doing your Christmas cards this year, you'd like to drop a thank-you to the network chaps responsible for your favorite shows (and maybe we'd like to fill up the TV Column on a very slow post-holiday Monday)...

Sagansky, for instance, can be reached at 7800 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif., 90036 (e.g., Dear Jeff: I'll never forget "E.A.R.T.H. Force") ...

Robert Iger, president of ABC Entertainment (he gave us "America's Funniest People"), gets his mail at 2040 Avenue of the Stars, Los Angeles, Calif., 90067 ...

Warren Littlefield, president of NBC Entertainment (thanks, Warren, for "Ferris Bueller"), is at 3000 West Alameda, Burbank, Calif., 91523 ...

And Peter Chernin, president, Fox Entertainment Group (where do we start? Hey, how about "Beverly Hills, 90210"?) will be found practically next door, at Box 900, Beverly Hills, Calif., 90213 ...

Ears up, Millie! Steven Bochco's next project for ABC Entertainment is an animated show called "Capital Critters," about a family of mice living in the White House ...

ABC will air a two-hour "Ice Capades 50th Anniversary Special" on Thursday, Dec. 27 ...

In addition to film clips of past Ice Capades stars such as Sonja Henie, Dorothy Hamill and Peggy Fleming, the special will include performances by Pia Zadora and Bobby Berosini and His Orangutans (has that card to Bob Iger gone out yet, dear?) ...