Susan King, who co-anchors three weeknight news shows on Channel 7, has signed a new long-term contract with the station covering at least three years ...

King, who joined Seven in 1987, will also continue with her "Cover Story" feature under terms of the new pact negotiated by superlawyer Cynthia Riley ...

King came t-h-a-a-t close to going to the "Today" show late last year when Riley's husband-to-be, David Nuell (Susan's old boss at WRC), came t-h-a-a-t close to becoming the boss of the NBC morning program ...

King's status was a little shaky under the previous news management at Seven, but after the late summer turnover this year at WJLA she now reigns as co-anchor of both the 5:30 and 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Renee Poussaint as well as the 6 p.m. show with Dale Solly ...

King previously was with Channel 9, the ABC News bureau here and Channel 4 before joining Seven ...

Also at Seven: Education reporter Kathleen Matthews is close to re-signing and weathercaster Steve Udelson -- who was told in September his contract would not be renewed this month -- has instead signed a one-year contract as a part-timer and will continue with the early morning weather and as a fill-in when needed. The station had originally planned to eliminate an early morning weathercaster after it canceled the 5:30 a.m. news ...

Charlie Rose fans will be happy to know that Charlie shows up tonight as guest host of "Larry King Live" on CNN at 9 ...

Rose left CBS News's "Nightwatch" to host the syndicated "Personalities" for an ill-starred stint that ended in late fall after he lost a fight to upgrade the show. He has since been dividing time between his farm near Oxford, N.C., business trips to The Coast--and mulling over offers. But no career decisions yet ...

And in reponse to several inquiries: CBS Entertainment says there is a chance the network will repeat that Frank Sinatra 75th-birthday special sometime next year ...

Now ThisLinda Ellerbee, who hasn't been on the air for NBC since the mid-'80s, is returning to the network next month. But the network is still not giving her any breaks when it comes to timeslots ...

When last seen on the Peacock Network, she was co-anchoring "NBC News Overnight" in a very late-night timeslot, where her quirky commentaries attracted a definite cult following, none of whom apparently were wired to Nielsen meters. Her eventual departure was not happy ...

Now she's coming back, starting Jan. 13, on "Sunday Best," a comedic, hour-long, low-budget series (it will include "highlights" from the network's sitcoms of the previous week, for instance) that NBC will throw in against CBS's 900-plus-pound gorilla, "60 Minutes" ...

Ellerbee's contributions will include segments featuring oddities from the news, live from New York, plus a humorous segment called "This Week in TV History" ...

Ellerbee has long been as close to a working rebel as network TV allows but it's always been a battle. Before "Overnight," there was "Weekend" -- another cult favorite that used to spell "Saturday Night Live" once a month for NBC. After a fairly noisy departure from NBC, Ellerbee had a stint with CNN a few years back but Ted Turner finally nixed her commentaries. In recent years she's been busy with projects for her Lucky Duck Productions (which will produce the "Sunday Best") segments, but she hasn't been very lucky getting them on the air ...

Also at NBC: The network told affiliates last week that it would give back one hour of the daytime schedule to local stations starting next September ...

Which means a lot of previously unexpected business will be done next month when syndicators show up at the annual convention of the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE) in New Orleans and many of the stations hustle to fill the hour ...

Rumors of the daytime cutback have circulated for some time as the cost-conscious network seeks to save money in an increasingly tight advertising market. NBC has been a poor third in daytime for years. The decision cuts its daytime schedule to 4 1/2 hours, compared with the 5 1/2 hours aired by number one CBS and the five hours on always contending ABC ...

Prospects are that NBC will cancel its 10-to-11 a.m. game show block that right now includes "Let's Make a Deal" (see below) and "Classic Concentration" ...

NBC has already made some daytime changes, recently canceling "Generations" and last week announcing it will drop Marsha Warfield's talk show at 11:30 in favor of a series called "Trialwatch," which will debut Monday, Jan. 28. The new series is based on real-life courtroom events ...

The network will also introduce a midday information show, "A Closer Look," anchored by Faith Daniels, starting Jan. 8 ...

And the aforementioned "Let's Make a Deal" will be replaced at 10 with "Wheel of Fortune" as of Jan. 14. "Wheel" was on NBC for 14 years before moving to CBS, which recently announced its cancellation. The revised "Wheel," still starring Vanna White and host Bob Goen, will include a 900 phone number so viewers can call up and win prizes too (the syndicated "Wheel," which airs on Seven here at 7 p.m., is not affected by all this) ...

That CBS deal for five series from producers Linda Bloodworth-Thomason -- she's the creator of "Designing Women" -- and her husband, producer-director Harry Thomason, is reportedly worth between $45 million and $50 million ...

And CBS Entertainment plans more such major production deals as part of its campaign to challenge NBC and ABC with top-flight comedies, the backbone of audience success ...

Washington media consultant Michael Sheehan has come up with a lighthearted list of "best and worst media performances of 1990," which represent "hundreds of hours" of viewing ("even C-SPAN"). He'll talk about his choices (there are 10 different categories) on Monday's "CBS This Morning" as well as on CNN sometime next week. Although he's generous in his praise for First Lady Barbara Bush, Republicans glancing at the list will probably figure out that Sheehan has handled more than 200 Democratic candidates as clients ...

Sample "bests and busts":

Best performance in front of a large crowd: First Lady Barbara Bush at Wellesley College -- where they tried to disinvite her because she was merely a "wife of." She "used her breezy wit while refusing to water down her message or pander to the crowd," says Sheehan ...

Worst: Roseanne Barr's shot at the national anthem ...

Best question on a national news program: "Nightline's" Ted Koppel to accused S&L king Charles Keating: "So, Mr. Keating, what was it on your son's re'sume' that warranted giving him a $900,000-a-year job to begin with?" ...

Worst: Diane Sawyer to Donald Trump girlfriend Marla Maples on "PrimeTime": "Was he the best sex you ever had?" ...

Best foreign performance: Saddam Hussein's interview with CBS's Dan Rather. Says Sheehan: "For more than an hour Hussein parried with {Rather} as deftly as George Bush ever did" ...

Worst: Saddam Hussein's. "In his visit with the British hostages, Hussein clumsily manhandled a child who looked like he had just been asked to shake hands with Darth Vader. Easily the single worst media moment of 1990" ...

Best guest on a talk show: Ken Griffey Jr., the Seattle Mariner outfielder, on "Late Night With David Letterman." "In an age of overpaid and inarticulate athletes, {his} humor and presence were a refreshing difference" ...

Worst: Andrew Dice Clay's teary performance on "The Arsenio Hall Show," which Sheehan calls "the worst self-revelation on television since Nixon's 'Checkers' speech" ...

Best effort to turn an image around: George Steinbrenner on "Saturday Night Live" ...

Worst: "Vice President Dan Quayle anywhere he goes" (you also won't be surprised to learn that Sheehan coached Sen. Lloyd Bentsen for his 1988 debate with candidate Quayle that produced the famous "I knew Jack Kennedy" quote) ...

Best performance by a president: George Bush for his September "we will not be blackmailed" address, which Sheehan says was his best since the 1988 New Orleans acceptance speech ...

Worst: Bush from the Oval Office in October on the budget compromise ...

Best performance by a press secretary: Mike McCurry of the Democratic National Committee ...

Worst: The State Department's Margaret Tutwiler ...

In case you've missed the on-air promotions, "Live With Regis & Kathie Lee" will return to the air on Channel 7 Monday in the 10 a.m. timeslot currently occupied by "The Joan Rivers Show" ...

Joan will move to 11 a.m. as Seven puts the "Challengers" and "Trump Card" game shows on the shelf pending a decision to air at least one of them in late night after the first of the year ...

Seven thinks Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford will strengthen the already strong morning lineup of "Geraldo" and Joan Rivers, which are winning their timeslots ...

This isn't the first appearance by Regis and Kathie Lee on Seven. After Channel 9 replaced both of them with Sally Jessy Raphael at 10 a.m. weekdays in the fall of 1989, Seven aired the series from January through May of this year but couldn't nail down a deal with Buena Vista Television, the distributor ...