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NOBODY ASKED me, but: If you want to know how important the time slot is in determining what becomes a hit show, take a look at "Seinfeld."

After getting destroyed opposite "Home Improvement" on Wednesdays, "Seinfeld" cracked the Top 10 after being moved behind "Cheers" for the first time last Thursday.

And don't miss tonight's hysterically funny episode (9:30 p.m., Channel 2), "The Outing." It finds Jerry and George (Jason Alexander) being the victims of their own joke. They joked about being gay for the benefit of an eavesdropper, who turned out to a college newspaper reporter assigned to do a story about Jerry. Then they have to convince her that they were kidding. Meanwhile, George has what he believes is a good reason to keep the story temporarily alive.

This episode, which belittles gay stereotyping, ranks with the year's best along with the "Seinfeld" episode earlier this season on, eh, masturbation.

It also is handled sensitively, with Jerry, George and Kramer avoiding being judgmental with the help of a recurring gag. When they deny being gay, they add, "Not that there is anything wrong with that."

I haven't laughed so hard during a sitcom episode all year.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5.

Wondering where Rush Limbaugh is these days? Channel 4 moved his TV show from 12:05 a.m. to 6 a.m. weekdays.

A station programmer said the move was made because: a) 6 a.m. is in between news shows and thought to be a good place for an issues show. b) the midnight slot is going to be taken by David Letterman next summer and c) people can videotape it for viewing later.

"We have a one-year contract for Rush," added the programmer.

Limbaugh did decently in the November ratings, especially since it was its first ratings book. The best thing for Limbaugh fans would be if Channel 4 doesn't renew the show and Channel 7 signs to carry it next fall.

"Limbaugh" would seem to be a good fit to follow "Night-
line," ABC's 11:30 p.m. program. However, a Channel 7 spokesperson didn't sound that enthusiastic about the idea.

With Oprah Winfrey moving over to Channel 4 next fall and Les Brown's new show being picked up by the King World station, Channel 4 has more talk shows than places to put them next fall. "Jerry Springer" is likely history, and Channel 4 may have to sideline either "Donahue" or "Sally Jessy Raphael," too.

And just what is Channel 4 carrying now at 12:05 a.m weekdays instead of Limbaugh? All together now: paid programming.

Starting at 6 a.m. this Saturday, Channel 4 is scheduled to carry 9 1/2 hours of paid programming within a 24-hour period.

Channel 4's desperation for money is also evident at 6:30 p.m. Saturday when it is running a locally produced outdoors program instead of the CBS weekend news.

I was surprised that Andy Griffith didn't explain Wednesday night (during his CBS special celebrating his old sitcom) how he kept a young Ronnie Howard in line.

In a January interview in Los Angeles, Griffith explained: "I used to tell Ronnie, where to stand. He wasn't very good about hitting his marks. And if you ever watch the old show, you'll see that I have my hand on him all the time. And it wasn't because I loved him. I was just putting him on his mark."

Robert Townsend, who soon will be starting production on his own variety show for Fox, is a fan of the Griffith show.

In a Los Angeles interview, Townsend said: "As an artist, I want to really create something special. So that when you come home, you'll rush home to that television -- like, I still watch Andy Griffith. And it still works. You know. I know the problem that Opie's gonna get into, and Aunt Bee's gonna tell about, and Barney Fife is going do -- but it still works."

This isn't a good sign for the World University Games. Asked recently what kind of coverage ESPN planned for the games here in July, ESPN President Steve Bornstein said, "I don't think we're doing them."

When told that a deal had been struck, Bornstein said: "Believe it or not, I don't know everything we're doing but I'm pretty sure we're not doing that unless it has sponsorship."

ESPN's John Wildhack, a Kenmore native, then told his boss that ESPN is doing the Games.

When the boss is unaware of the Games, it says something about ESPN's opinion of them.

Cheers for Amherst native Wendie Malick, who won her second ACE award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy for her role as Judith Tupper -- Martin's ex-wife -- in the HBO comedy "Dream On."

Cheers to Channel 7, which has agreed to carry the five National Hockey League playoff games that ABC is televising this April with ESPN's telecast crew.