Networks and producers are wrestling with the problem of how to handle the Persian Gulf War in regular series, and so far the response, with very few exceptions, is to avoid reality for a while ...

Nevertheless, tonight's "Major Dad" episode on CBS will open and close with a voice-over by Polly Cooper (Shana Reed) taped this past weekend to make it appear the episode itself is taking place tonight as she recalls when the war broke out 2 1/2 weeks ago ...

NBC says its regular series probably won't touch the war, at least during the February sweeps, and except for ABC's "Under Cover," which wrestled with the problems of a couple of Middle East plots, that network doesn't have any Persian Gulf plots in the immediate offing, either ...

But CBS, with Major Dad (Gerald McRaney) currently serving at a Virginia base supplying the Marine effort in the gulf, expects the last six episodes of the series this season to be as current as possible. And on "Designing Women," Charlene's husband has been in the Middle East since late last year, and that series could be expected to refer to the war periodically ...

We hear that Lt. Col. Oliver North's agent has been shopping the Iran-contra scandal principal among the networks as a consultant on the Persian Gulf War. So far, no takers ...

Series star Dana Delany and a production crew from "China Beach" will be in Washington Feb. 11-13 to tape scenes at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for the final episode of the ABC series ...

With seven original episodes still to be aired this season from the final order of 16 shows, ABC Entertainment hasn't decided when exactly the award-winning series (one of ABC's few, as long as we're on the subject) will return -- but it's obviously to be sometime later this spring ...

A 13-program series, "Black Independent Showcase," debuts tonight at 8 on public television's Channel 32. It's produced by the Howard University Department of Radio, Television and Film in cooperation with WHMM ...

The series features independent and student-produced dramatic and comedy films and videos, each serving as part of a "visual anthology of stories which explore the broad realm of the African American experience" ...

Each episode will be repeated on Sundays at 9:30 p.m. throughout the spring. Executive producer and creator of the series is Howard assistant professor S. Torriano Berry ...

Scott Goodfellow, for the past year Washington bureau chief for the Christian Science Monitor Television and Radio operations, has been promoted to executive vice president of Monitor Television Inc. ...

Goodfellow, a former vice president and Washington bureau chief for Conus Communications and deputy bureau chief of NBC News here, will move to Boston in August for the new job ...

Monitor Television Inc. operates Channel 68 in Boston; markets and distributes all TV programs, including the weeknight "World Monitor" news program on the Discovery Channel, produced by the Christian Science Monitor; and will be responsible for the operation of the Monitor Channel, a cable service that will debut in May ...

Cassandra Clayton and Boyd Matson, veteran NBC News correspondents, have been named anchors of "The Real Story," a live primetime magazine that will debut in late March on the CNBC cable network ...

Now This

Channel 5's Doug Wilkes has been named Cameraperson of the Year in the annual White House News Photographers Association Awards competition ...

Wilkes took first-place awards in the series and spot categories, as well as two second places, two third places and an honorable mention among the 12 categories in the TV division ...

Other TV winners include: Armando Almanza, H&C Communications (in the sports and presidential categories); Steven C. Affens, WJLA (feature and lighting); Holly Fine, CBS's "60 Minutes" (editing); Paul G. Dougherty, freelance (general news); Paul Fine, "60 Minutes" (magazine feature); Harold Hoiland, WUSA (news feature); John G. Ringstad Jr., Post-Newsweek Stations (same-day editing); Craig Gibson, CBS News (sound); and "Hal" Lawrence Herman, WJLA (spot news) ...

The awards will be presented at the annual news photographers banquet later this spring ...

Let the February Nielsen ratingzzz sweepzzz begin! cried C. Airwaves, who's always looking out for TV Column fans. And sure enough, they got rolling Thursday night -- with NBC winning its favorite night with a 16.7 national rating and a 26 percent audience share twixt 8 and 11. "The Cosby Show" averaged a 16.9/25 at 8 and that "L.A. Law" episode did a 14.2/24 ...

Because "The Simpsons," on FOX, averaged a 15.6/24 at 8, the two hours of Fox primetime programming that night averaged a 9.8/15, compared with the three-hour primetime average for CBS of 9.7/15. ABC averaged a 10.2/16 ...

Cable News Network

CNN reached another level of pop culture acceptance last week with that cartoon in the New Yorker showing a pensive middle-aged man staring out at a winter scene through his big bay window -- which had a "CNN Live" logo in the lower right-hand corner ...

The new-found popularity of the 24-hour War Channel continues to hold steady -- at least for now. Since the war broke out, CNN has averaged a 500 percent increase over its normal 24-hour daily viewership ...

This past Wednesday, CNN registered a 4.2 overall rating, compared with a 0.7 average in December. In CNN's cable universe, each ratings point represents 568,000 households ...

Reuter says primetime audiences are so good, in fact, that CNN is now asking advertisers for $20,000 per 30-second commercial in primetime, compared with a prewar $3,500 ...

And Ted Turner, whose four-network cable empire includes CNN, couldn't refrain from needling the big network news operations when he met with advertisers last week at the Plaza in New York ...

"I have to say," the feisty Turner had to say, "I hate my competitors. I don't like 'em and I'm not supposed to like 'em" ...

He bragged that he has 800 more employees than the big guys but still operates on a much smaller budget, in part because "we're non-union and we don't pay one person $3 million to sit in the studio and look attractive" ...

He said he was "very, very proud" of his CNN employees, "particularly those in the Middle East," pointing out that 330 had volunteered for 160 CNN jobs in the region ...

And of course Turner cited the new Times Mirror Center for the People and the Press poll in which 61 percent said CNN had done the best covering the war, compared with 12 percent for ABC and 7 percent each for CBS and NBC ...

As The Post reported last week, that same Times Mirror poll also showed that nearly eight of 10 Americans support Pentagon restrictions on journalists covering the Persian Gulf War ...

That antipathy surfaced again Friday, when ABC's "Good Morning America" conducted an unscientific call-in poll that asked, "Is the news media doing a responsible and fair job of covering the gulf war?" ...

The poll attracted 62,180 callers from around the country, 83 percent of whom (51,332) voted no while only 17 percent (10,848) said yes ...

The poll followed an on-air discussion on GMA about media coverage. A 900 telephone number was open from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. Eastern time to permit West Coast viewers to respond too. The profits from the 50-cent charge were slated to go to the American Red Cross and the USO ...

While we're on the morning scene, let's record that GMA won for the 56th week in a row with a 5.1/20, compared with a 4.2/17 for NBC's "Today" and a 3.3/13 for "CBS This Morning" for the week ending Jan. 25 ...

The past two weeks, of course, have seen a rise in early-morning ratings as viewers tune in for the latest war news. A year ago the same week, for instance, GMA averaged a 4.3/20, "Today" a 4.0/19, and "This Morning" a 2.6/12 ...

More Persian Gulf War impact: For its first two weeks, NBC's "Meet the Press" surfaced as the most popular of the network Sunday morning public affairs programs, averaging a national Nielsen rating of 5.9 and a 17 percent audience share on Jan. 20 and a 4.2/12 on the 27th ...

ABC News's "This Week With David Brinkley" did a 5.0/12 and a 3.3/11 on those same two Sundays, while CBS News's "Face the Nation" averaged a 4.2/11 and a 3.2/10 nationally ...

Interest was higher in Washington: On those two Sundays, "Meet's" ratings on WRC were 8.5/33 and 6.5/19, respectively, compared with 5.8/15 and 3.7/11 for "Brinkley" on WJLA and 4.8/13 and 4.7/14 for "Face" on WUSA. The Jan. 27 "Face" aired at 11:30 p.m. on Channel 9 here ...

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

And interest in the war may have been a factor in producing the low numbers on PBS for the recent WETA co-production of "Making Sense of the Sixties" ...

In a survey of 24 Nielsen big cities, the three-part documentary averaged a 2.8/4, a 3.3/5 and a 2.5/4 ... attracting its biggest audiences in Chicago, Denver, Boston and Minneapolis ...

In Washington, the trip (a little '60s-type joke there, TV Column fans) down memory lane fared even worse, averaging a 1.4/2 on Jan. 21, followed by a 1.8/3 on Jan. 22 and a 2.4/4 on Jan 23 ...