Just channel-hopping . . .

-KUTV almost had a new news director last week when, when the job was offered to Brink Chipman, a native Utahn who currently works as a TV news director in Tucson, Ariz. But KUTV president and general manager Jeff Hatch said Tuesday that Chipman turned the job down, probably because his wife was unwilling to relocate her very successful public relations career.So the job is still open - for now. Hatch said he has narrowed down his list of applicants to a few that he is comfortable with, and hopes to make a final choice sometime this week. And he'll need to make a quick decision since managing editor Brad Remington, who has been running the KUTV News operation since former news director Mike Youngreen left in December, has accepted a position with Youngreen in Denver.

-LOCAL TV WATCH:

- As much as I enjoy Dave Fox's Tuesday night "Plays of the Week" (and I think I've made it pretty clear how much I like the bit), I often get the feeling Fox scrimps on his sports coverage on Tuesdays in order to fit it in. It seems to me that his sports coverage ought to be given first priority, and that "Plays of the Week" - as fun as it is - should be made to fit whatever time is left over.

- As far as I'm concerned, Kimberly Perkins' debut as Phil Riesen's co-anchor on KTVX has been successful. She isn't an overwhelming new presence, but she appears to be skilled, confident and competent, and a pleasant addition to KTVX News.

- Cheers to KSL's Jack Ford for an interesting and entertaining report on Alta's 50-year history. He almost made me wish I was a skier and had done a little shushing down Alta's historic slopes. Almost.

- Hats off to KUED for moving their pledge period. Originally scheduled for early March, the folks at Ch. 7 have bumped it back a bit in order to give PBS viewers a chance to recover from all the on-air groveling KBYU is doing.

- Speaking of which, would someone please tell KBYU program director BaBette Davidson to calm down a little? I appreciate her enthusiasm, and her cause - public television - is certainly just. But my goodness - her pledge break co-hosts have to fight just to finish the sentences they start.

- I'm not sure, but I have a hunch KXIV is closing in on a new world's record for the number of public service announcements shown in prime time. If they don't start filling up with real ads soon, KOOG's affiliation with the Home Shopping Network may start looking good to them.

-ANGELA LANSBURY has finally agreed to one more year of Murder, She Wrote for CBS. Lansbury had earlier indicated that this, her fifth year on CBS's highest-rated prime time series, would be her last. But CBS and Universal Television have persuaded her to give them one more year, after which she will develop a half-hour comedy series for the network.

Speculation has abounded recently that ABC would convince Lansbury to bring Jessica Fletcher to their side of the street, where she would become the fourth spoke in the "Monday Mystery Movie" wheel. But CBS, which is desperate for hits these days, persuaded her otherwise, leaving "Murder, She Wrote" to anchor the network's strong Sunday night lineup for at least one more year.

-JESSE WHITE, the 70-year-old character actor who has played the lonely Maytag repairman in commercials since 1967, is turning the gig over to Gordon Jump next month. Maytag officials say the White will still show up at an occasional dealers' show or store opening, but for the most part Jump will be the company's new commercial spokesman. You'll see him first plugging Maytag's new line of refrigerators.

-WISEGUY fans will probably be interested in knowing that the show's next seven-episode story arc (beginning March 1) will deal with the rock music industry, with Tim Curry as a manipulative music manager, Deidre Hall as his wife and real-life (if you can call it that) rockers Mick Fleetwood, Glenn Frey, Deborah Harry, Patti D'Arbanville and Paul Winfield in featured roles.

-QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Lee Horsley ("Paradise") on the perils of playing an Old West hero: "The only thing you have to be careful about is the language. You can't go around saying, `That's a rad horse you got there, Ethan."'

-IT'S OFFICIAL: Roseanne Barr will make the big leap from the small screen to feature films by starring with Meryl Streep in a new theatrical film version of Fay Weldon's "The Life and Loves of a She Devil."

By the way, if that title sounds familiar it's because the Arts and Entertainment Network recently aired a dramatization of the story about a housewife who loses her husband to a beautiful woman who writes romance novels. (I'll let you figure out for yourself which of those characters Barr will play, and which will be played by Streep.)

-I USUALLY DON'T publish unsigned letters, but I just couldn't resist this response to my comments about "Lonesome Dove": "`Lonesome Dove' better than `Roots'? `Pretty scenery,' you said? After episode number one I turned it off. A total loss. You are adrift on a sea of momentary ignorance. Better head for shore!"