ABC Entertainment Friday announced the departure of three primetime series -- "Twin Peaks" and "Under Cover" from the Saturday lineup and "Going Places" on Friday ...

The two Saturday series will be replaced by a movie (see separate story on Page C1), while "Going Places" makes room for "Baby Talk" ...

The last named, loosely based on the theatrical movie "Look Who's Talking," will finally join the schedule next month in the 9:30 Friday timeslot ...

"Baby Talk" was announced last May for the ABC fall schedule in the coveted 8:30 Tuesday timeslot just ahead of "Roseanne." But Connie Sellecca, originally signed as the star of the series (in the Kirstie Alley movie role), wasn't funny enough. Production was delayed when Julia Duffy replaced Sellecca as the young, single mother whose infant son "articulates his 'baby's-eye view' of life through the voice of Tony Danza" (Bruce Willis articulated in the movie -- and a sequel, "Look Who's Talking Too") ...

"Baby Talk" will preview Friday, March 8, at 8:30 and then returns on March 15 in its regular 9:30 timeslot, replacing the aptly titled "Going Places," which will complete its 20-episode run with its March 8 telecast ...

In its first 17 appearances, "Going Places" has averaged an 11.2/30 and ranks 54th among 123 series tried on the four networks so far this season. Which makes it a candidate for next fall and probably a return in reruns later this season ...

If you've been glued to C-SPAN over the holiday, you may not have noticed that anchor Dan Rather is now broadcasting on "CBS Evening News" from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He flew to Saudi Arabia after the Thursday night broadcast. Bob Schieffer will co-anchor from New York for the time being ...

And "NBC Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw and commentator John Chancellor flew to Saudi Arabia after the Friday broadcast, Brokaw to Dhahran, Chancellor to Riyadh. They teamed last night with sub-anchor Jane Pauley in New York for a special and will continue to broadcast for the week from the Persian Gulf. Meanwhile, NBC says it will continue to offer affiliates a one-hour "Nightly News" as long as the Persian Gulf crisis continues ...

A spokesperson for ABC News said Friday that "World News Tonight" anchor Peter Jennings currently has no plans to leave the anchor desk in New York ...

Likewise, CNN reports that its chief anchor, Bernard Shaw, is staying in Washington, at least for the time being ...

Now This

The ABC network will distribute an hour-long religious drama, "Saying Kaddish," on Sunday, March 3, which will be shown on WJLA here the next Sunday, March 10, at 6 a.m. ...

The program tells the story of a Jewish family affirming life after the death of a wife and mother suffering from cancer ...

According to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the film "attempts to present Jewish mourning rituals, emphasizing both the family tensions that seem inevitable when death occurs, and the extent to which the mourners are able to draw support from the community" ...

The film is being presented by the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission and was produced for the Jewish Theological Seminary by Victoria Larimore and Oren Rudavsky ...

The drama stars Tovah Feldshuh, Phyllis Newman and Stephen Pearlman. Elizabeth Swados composed the score ...

The ABC affiliate in Baltimore, WJZ, will show the program at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, March 3. WABC, the network's flagship station in New York, like WJLA here, will delay its broadcast until March 10, but will air it at 10 a.m. ...

Jane Cohen, director of programming at Seven, said Friday she regrets the 6 a.m. time period, but "unless we get the program information far in advance, we're precluded from putting it in the schedule at a more advantageous time period. ABC provides various religious programs throughout the year, and we try to find a spot for them. Hopefully, folks can turn on their VCRs to see 'Saying Kaddish' at a more convenient time. Unfortunately, we have a very tight Sunday schedule right now" ...

Cohen pointed out that Seven will be unable to carry ABC's Easter Sunday programming this year because of those same schedule commitments (Seven each year provides ABC stations nationwide with the Washington National Cathedral's Christmas broadcast) ...

A recent letter from the director of the Department of Radio and Television of the seminary points out, "Religion on television has seen better days." Marjorie Wyler expressed the hope that "stations might rethink their negative attitudes toward religion on TV" ...

In Other News

NBC Entertainment Group chairman Brandon Tartikoff returned to work last week, fully recovered from a New Year's traffic accident near Lake Tahoe ...

His 8-year-old daughter, Calla, seriously injured in the accident, has been discharged from Reno's Washoe Medical Center in satisfactory and stable condition. NBC president Bob Wright, in a memo to employees, said she is "in the process of going through rehabilitation in Los Angeles. The doctors tell us her progress has been excellent and, in fact, ahead of schedule" ...

Tartikoff and NBC Entertainment president Warren Littlefield have a lot of work ahead of them as the five-year primetime champion continues to fall back to the pack ...

Pending returns from CBS's three holiday nostalgia specials this past weekend, CBS and ABC were tied for second at 12.2/20 in the February sweeps through Thursday, i.e., the first 15 nights of the 28-night survey ...

NBC, in first at 12.9/21, is nevertheless down 18 percent from a year ago while CBS is even and ABC is down 5 percent from February 1990 ...

Largely due to the NBC slippage, the three networks together are off 2.8 million homes a night from last year ...

In a not-unrelated move, NBC News president Michael Gartner told his staff on Friday he was shuffling some duties in the division so he could devote considerable time during the next few months to some long-range "strategic planning"...

A week ago, Gartner released figures showing that coverage of the Persian Gulf crisis had cost NBC some $35.7 million since August in lost ad revenues and news-gathering costs. This continuing expense comes at a time when the drop in primetime entertainment audiences and slow ad sales confront the company with projected profits of perhaps less than $200 million this year, compared with $375 million just two years ago ...

Hence the need for the "strategic planning" effort in which Gartner and five key aides will try to set realistic goals for the News division in the '90s in a fragile environment in which network affiliates now have access to several independent news sources -- including cable -- that diminish reliance on network news ...

In a memo Friday, Gartner pointed out that a similar planning group in 1988 that he headed resulted in the creation of a central news desk, the NBC news channel, a program development group (whence sprang "Expose'" and "Real Life With Jane Pauley," for instance) and other staff reorganizations ...

He cited the "dramatic changes, journalistically and financially," facing the network in the coming decade, a theme he sounded in a recent visit to the NBC News bureau in Washington ...

Named to help him strategize were Jim Griner, vice president for finance; Jay Fine, vice president for technical facilities; Jeff Gaspin, director of the program development group; Bob Keyes; and Dave Miller, director of foreign news ...

In the interim, NBC News executive vice president Don Browne moves his office closer to Gartner's as he assumes some of the boss's regular responsibilities, such as the "Today" show and the aforementioned Sunday primetime programs, "Expose'" and "Real Life," while Bob McFarland will direct day-to-day news operations ...

Gartner emphasized he will remain active in the news division and that top executives, meanwhile, keep their regular assignments in addition to the extra duties ...

Denying whispers that Gartner was planning to leave (which have circulated at NBC News for at least two years now), our sources indicate the temporary assignment actually strengthens his role in a crucial period for the News division ...

"The fact is," said one executive Friday, "with the drop in entertainment revenue and the costs of the war, all three networks have to figure out how to keep their news divisions alive somehow over the next 10 years" ...

Only ABC News is making money right now -- and that profit margin is imperiled by the costs of the war ...

Lindy Spero, WTTG's vice president of creative services, and producer Jack Mori won a runner-up award at the Independent Television Stations Association's recent convention for their on-air TV spot promoting the station's "Fox Morning News." A radio campaign designed by Spero and Mori for the early morning news show likewise took first place in the INTV awards ...

Making summer plans? Just remember that the 43rd annual primetime Emmy Awards will be broadcast on Fox (WTTG) the night of Aug. 25 ...

We knew that Gorbachev was having a spot of bad luck recently, but did you know that starting March 1, "Geraldo" will be seen daily on Soviet television? ...

That Maryland Shock Trauma Center we all see and read about so much when serious accidents happen in this area gets a look on tomorrow's "Inside Edition" (Channel 4 at 4) ...