Channel 7 is expected to announce a new news director today, replacing Bob Reichblum, who resigned in July in protest against then-pending staff and budget cuts in the ABC affiliate's news operation ...

WJLA management has reduced the candidate list to just two -- Gary Wordlaw, the current news director at Channel 2 in Baltimore, and Bob Feldman, who resigned recently as news director at WTNH, the ABC affiliate in Hartford ...

Wordlaw is believed to be the final choice, but late yesterday station president Mike Moore refused to discuss his decision ...

Sources say the news staff will be told at 2 this afternoon ...

Meanwhile, there has been intense speculation at the station that the beleaguered 11 p.m. weeknight news show, now anchored by Renee Poussaint and Jim Harriott, is about to get a major renovation ...

Sources say that negotiations over proposed realignment of anchors currently on the staff that would follow is holding up the announcement of the changes ...

Adding to the mystery, of course, is the move by management to make the important on-air changes before a new news director is on board, but apparently the need to get moving on the 11 p.m. disaster area proved too pressing to delay any further ...

Despite a fairly strong primetime schedule from ABC, the late news at Seven has been at ratings ground zero in recent surveys, far behind Channels 4 and 9, as well as Channel 5's 10 o'clock news ...

At one point this summer, the late news at Seven actually fell to ratings of two and three some nights ...

In the key May ratings sweeps, WJLA, WRC and WUSA were virtually tied from 5 to 7 p.m. on weeknights but at 11 Mondays through Sundays WJLA averaged a six rating, compared with an 11 for WRC and a 10 for WUSA ...

In the July sweeps, with summertime audiences down, the three affiliates were again fairly close in the early evening, but at 11 Mondays-Fridays WRC averaged a 10, compared with a nine for WTTG, an eight for WUSA and a six (actually a 5.5) for WJLA ...

Each ratings point in those lazy days of summer represented 17,278 TV households ...

Shortly after Reichblum's resignation, Moore announced some 20 staff cuts at the station, including 10 members of the news unit, while the 5:30 a.m. news was scheduled for an Oct. 1 demise. At that time, management said no further major cuts were expected following a lengthy review of station finances prompted by a softening of ad revenues that has hit all local TV operations this year ...

However, in recent weeks, both WJLA movie critic Henry Tenenbaum and early news weatherman Steve Udelson received their walking papers and, according to sources, a handful of other on-air employees are due to be dropped when their contracts expire or when contract "windows" are available ...

In Other News

Diane Sawyer and a crew from ABC News's "PrimeTime Live" will be in L.A. next week taping Part II of a segment on how CBS's "Murphy Brown" is put together ...

This summer Sawyer sat in on a story conference for the episode that will be taped next week, featuring Colleen Dewhurst as Murphy's mom ...

The "PrimeTime" segment on the Candice Bergen series is scheduled for Oct. 25 ...

Channel 26 and the Oliver Carr Co. have signed a letter of intent for WETA's proposed move to the old Hecht Co. store in the 500 block of Seventh Street NW by March 1993 ...

WETA is currently located in five different buildings in the Shirlington area. When the Hecht building is ready, all of the station's production and administrative facilities would be under one roof ...

Channel 9 has scheduled a live, one-hour forum featuring three D.C. mayoral candidates -- Democrat Sharon Pratt Dixon, Republican Maurice Turner and Alvin Frost of the Statehood Party -- on Thursday, Nov. 1, at 8 p.m... .

Gordon Peterson and Bruce Johnson will moderate the forum, which will air without commercials ...

"The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" announced yesterday that Jim Lehrer will have a live interview on the Monday night broadcast with President F.W. de Klerk of South Africa who, earlier in the day, will meet with President Bush and Secretary of State Baker ...

The networks aren't happy with a decision by Timothy Ryan, director of the Treasury Department's Office of Thrift Supervision, to ban video and audio recording equipment from a hearing in the federal courthouse in Denver next Tuesday where Neil M. Bush, the son of the president and a onetime board member of Silverado Banking, Savings and Loan Association, is due to appear on the bank's multimillion-dollar failure ...

C-SPAN had offered to pool its coverage but Ryan concluded that the presence of the TV equipment would be "unduly intrusive" ...

Reporters will be allowed at the hearing, to be held in a large courtroom ...

In a letter to Ryan asking him to reconsider the order, NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said that "it is difficult to understand the logic of allowing reporters into a hearing absent the tools of their profession. Are print reporters not being allowed to bring pencils and pens or are those items, too, being ruled 'unduly intrusive?' We live in an age where video cameras and tape recorders are allowed in courtrooms and hearings throughout the country ...

"With no apparent justification for your decision, you risk raising questions and motivations unfair to Neil Bush and the media" ...

Barring a last-minute change of heart by Ryan, NBC plans to have an artist on hand for the hearing ...

James A. Milner, who has been president and general manager of WFWA in Fort Wayne, Ind., has been named director of station relations for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He begins Oct. 15 ...

Milner replaces Augustine Dempsey, whose title had been director of broadcast services. Dempsey left this summer to manage CPB's minority station improvement project as a consultant ...

After three nights of the New Season, TV Column fans, ABC has a narrow lead, averaging a 14.9 national Nielsen rating, compared with a 14.5 for NBC and a 14.4 for CBS ...

Each ratings point represents 931,000 TV homes. And the new season doesn't end until mid-April 1991 ...

For those three nights, each network has averaged a 24 percent audience share. That cumulative 72 percent is nicely ahead (as well it might be, since all three are showing off the new season shows, for gosh sakes) of the 60-plus they averaged last year ...

Wednesday, ABC won the night with a 14.8/25. A Bette Midler special at 10, however, averaged just 12.1/22 ...

NBC averaged a 13.9/24, as Part I of a II-part "Hunter" kicked off that series's new season with a 12.7/23 at 10 against Bette ...

CBS managed only a 10.9/19, after a slow start from "Lenny" (7.4/13) and the season premire of "Doctor, Doctor" (7.4/12) ...

Oh, and on Tuesday night, "Roseanne" returned to the ratingzzz wars with a fresh episode for the first time since Ms. Barr made an appearance in San Diego in July to screech the national anthem (with gestures) before a Padres game ...

The ABC series scored a strong 20.1 national rating and a 30 share, good enough to beat the competition at 9 p.m., including the first half-hour of "Field of Dreams" on CBS (14.9/22) and the first half-hour of a two-hour "In the Heat of the Night" on NBC (15.8/24) ...

"Roseanne" did a 22.3/33 in Nielsen's 24 big cities but obviously wasn't all that popular with rural and small city audiences ...

Hello? Taste Police?

Today's edition of "Hard Copy" (Channel 4 at 4:30 p.m.) takes us to Honolulu, where Imelda Marcos held a gala party for 250 to celebrate her dead husband Ferdinand's 73rd birthday ...

The deposed Philippine leader was on hand in his refrigerated casket ...

"Modern technology can preserve them for years on end," Imelda confided to the "Hard Copy" crew ...

At the party two weeks ago, Imelda sang "happy birthday" to the corpse and, flanked by her two attorneys, said, "It's a happy day, because the thing is, the longer they die {sic} the more perfect they become -- and he's becoming perfect all the time. I don't remember any of the negatives, I only remember the positives, so the longer Ferdinand is dead, the more perfect he's becoming in my mind" ...

Instead of gifts, partygoers brought casseroles and noodle dishes for a potluck dinner ...