Merry Christmas to:
JANE PAULEY: Heck of a year. NBC forced her out of “Today,” and the show’s been a ratings loser ever since. She became America’s sweetheart, and repentant NBC is bringing her back in her own weekly prime-time series, “Real Life With Jane Pauley,” starting Jan. 6.
BOB SAGET: He’s the star of two major ABC series, “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Full House,” but his name probably draws a blank stare among many TV viewers. He’s laughing all the way to the bank.
ARSENIO HALL: Lots of heat, little warmth.
HOWARD ROLLINS: After all the troubles, including admitted drug use, a welcome comeback, aided by his “In the Heat of the Night” co-star, Carroll O’Connor.
THE OAKLAND A’s: Swept in four straight by Cincinnati in the World Series, they made TV history by helping break the back of CBS, which lost millions in revenue from the unplayed games. They should at least send CBS a get-well card.
LARRY KING: OK, the Ed Sullivan-type variety show on NBC bombed--but, hey, the new $8-million-plus contract with cable’s Ted Turner (CNN et al) will keep a guy warm at night.
THE CAST OF “CHEERS”: Especially George Wendt (Norm Peterson). Look, it took Ted Danson eight seasons to finally get his Emmy, so maybe next year. . . .
ANDY ROONEY: Live and learn.
JESS MARLOW: Still no reason to believe there’s a better TV anchor in Los Angeles than this class act of KNBC Channel 4.
ROSEANNE BARR: The ultimate Christmas caroler. “Jingle Bells” was meant for her. But maybe not “White Christmas.” Then again. . . .
“MacGYVER”: I still don’t know anyone who watches it, but they’re out there, so happy holidays.
WALTER CRONKITE: The former CBS anchor looks better and better in retrospect.
ANDREW DICE CLAY: You remember Andrew Dice Clay. “Saturday Night Live,” all the fuss. Then a movie, whatever it was called. The last name again is Clay. It’s spelled C-L-A-Y. Remember? No? Oh.
DANA DELANY: “China Beach” is history, but thanks for the memories.
NBC: The public-service award for “The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake,” the most cynical and exploitative TV film of the year. As soon as the show aired, NBC stopped its big “educational” campaign about earthquakes.
NBC AGAIN: But this time for a real public service--last week’s engrossing “Lifestories” special about a TV newsman with AIDS. Notable script by Richard Gollance. And a tip of the hat to Vons for hanging in there as a sponsor.
CHARLIE ROSE: The minute he quit 20th Century Fox’s “Personalities” series, the studio should have offered the high-profile journalist the anchor job of its KTTV Channel 11 news, with an eye to a national nightly Fox broadcast. Would he have been interested? You bet. And KTTV badly needs a major anchor presence to compete.
WENDY RUTLEDGE: She finally got the ax as anchor at KCOP Channel 13, but it was she and Tim Malloy--canned previously--who gave the station a news image. Not heavyweights, but decent news-readers, no worse than most of the others in town.
BLAIR BROWN: Pretty soon now--Jan. 19--we’ll be getting the final season of her “Days and Nights of Molly Dodd” series on Lifetime cable. And we’ll learn the father of Molly’s child, which she’ll have before the series ends.
JEFF SAGANSKY: No one could have done more to try to bring back CBS than its new entertainment president--but, really, were “E.A.R.T.H. Force” and “Over My Dead Body” better bets than “Beauty and the Beast”?
MICHAEL TUCK: The commentaries of the brash San Diego import have brought some badly needed life to KCBS Channel 2’s long-dormant 11 p.m. news. Welcome to L.A.
DEBORAH NORVILLE: All kinds of rumors that Jane Pauley’s controversial “Today” replacement might not return to the show after maternity leave. But “Today” needs a lot more changes than that.
BILL MOYERS: For heaven’s sake, grab that reported CNN opportunity as soon as possible. Now a PBS fixture, Moyers--lest we forget--was the last truly outspoken commentator on the networks’ evening news broadcasts when he was at CBS.
JIM AND TAMMY BAKKER: TV just ain’t the same without you.
RICK DEES: It’s hard to figure exactly what his late-night ABC show is trying to do, but it certainly would be helpful to know.
JACK PAAR: Because he was great.
GLENN CLOSE: Because she’s not a snob about TV--she’ll be back on CBS’ “Hallmark Hall of Fame” again Feb. 3 in “Sarah, Plain and Tall,” about a woman in 1910 who answers an ad for a wife placed by a widowed farmer.
ROBERT STACK: The “Unsolved Mysteries” host once got a letter from Elizabeth Ness, the widow of Eliot Ness, whom he played in TV’s “The Untouchables.” Mrs. Ness wrote that her husband was “an exciting, delightful and very real man,” and added, “You have done an amazing thing in catching so much that was characteristic of him.”
CAROL KANE: Wonderfully funny and touching again in “American Dreamer,” the Robert Urich dramedy that NBC has put on hiatus--but should really try again in a good time slot.
MORTON DOWNEY JR.: First his raunchy syndicated show was dropped. Now NBC’s cable channel, CNBC, has canceled his more moderate series. Some guys just aren’t appreciated.
WILL SMITH: The rap image may well have harmed his “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” series in the ratings, but with the right property--TV or movie--he’ll take off like a shot.
ANTHONY YERKOVICH: Every time I see a “Miami Vice” rerun on cable, I think of his incredible pilot script that created the series.
THE TV ACADEMY: Was it really worth it to trade viewers for cash in that Emmy Awards deal that put the show on the low-rated Fox network?
RONALD REAGAN: Here, at last, is the real reason he was a popular TV President: He wasn’t ashamed to let us see his T-shirt underwear, and he could get away with brown suits on major occasions. Everyman.
GARY COLEMAN: A very nice young man who has handled his kidney problem bravely.
JULIE KAVNER: From Valerie Harper’s sister on “Rhoda” to a regular role on “The Tracey Ullman Show” to the voice of Marge, the mother on “The Simpsons"--a real pro.
PETER FALK: “Columbo” still dresses up TV, a reminder of less tacky days on the home screen.
“TWIN PEAKS”: Despite all the contortions of the show since its debut, the two-hour pilot was one of the great moments in TV history--a thrilling creation.
DAVE DEL DOTTO: King of the infomercials. Look, I’d rather have a guy giving people some get-up-and-go with his cash-flow system than those creepy televangelists who used to dominate this type of bought-and-paid-for programming. I mean, the worst you can do is not get rich.
SHARON GLESS: After years with Tyne Daly in “Cagney & Lacey,” she’s impressively able to hold center stage on her own in “The Trials of Rosie O’Neill.”
CBS: Because the staggering, once-great network needs every good wish it can get.