WUSA, Washington's CBS station, will carry the full two-hour morning news show hosted by Bryant Gumbel when it debuts in November.

It's part of a carriage agreement on the show that CBS has struck with Gannett, which owns WUSA. Many CBS stations now carry a mix of "This Morning" and local news in that two-hour block. CBS News President Andrew Heyward lobbied on behalf of the Gumbel-hosted show during his address to station execs at their yearly meeting with network honchos this week in Las Vegas.

"Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace" was among the top five topics on prime-time newsmagazines and morning news programs in May.

The film was right up there with the tornadoes that hit Oklahoma and Kansas, the conflict in Kosovo, health stories and gun control, according to the latest tracking by Lawrence, Kan.-based NewsTV Corp.

On prime-time newsmags, the tornadoes were the month's most discussed topic, meriting 16 segments. The "Star Wars" prequel got seven. Those newsmagazines included ABC's "20/20"; CBS's "48 Hours," "60 Minutes" and "60 Minutes II"; NBC's "Dateline"; and CNN's "NewsStand."

On the morning news shows--ABC's "Good Morning America," CBS's "This Morning" and NBC's "Today"--the tensions in Kosovo led with 184 segments. Twenty-seven segments on "Star Wars" were crammed into the month.

"Law & Order" producers are trying to bring "Homicide" fans into the fold by resuscitating the latter's John Munch character on their show and its upcoming Monday night spinoff. "Law" creator and executive producer Dick Wolf confirmed he's in negotiations with NBC, which broadcast all of these shows and had an ownership stake in "Homicide," as well as with Studios USA (where Wolf's production company is housed) to bring aboard Richard Belzer, an original "Homicide" cast member, to play Detective Munch on both "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" for the coming season. Wolf worked with Belzer on "Law & Order" and "Homicide" crossover episodes during the February sweeps of '96, November sweeps of '97 and February '99. Each brought about 2 million extra viewers to "Law."

HBO's new mob drama series "The Sopranos" and ABC's "The Practice" were the most nominated series in this year's Television Critics Association balloting for best television programming.

Each received five nominations--a TCA first.

Another first: The 190-strong TV critics group has nominated "Wishbone" for best kids' show, even though it's been entirely in reruns this season. The 49 episodes that aired this season aired last season--and were nominated last year for best kids' show, though "Wishbone" didn't win. However, PBS's doggy-starring literature show brought home the TCA kids' trophy twice before--which no doubt explains why PBS isn't coughing up the cash to produce more episodes.

"The Sopranos" is a contender for best drama series, best new show and program of the year, among other noms. "The Practice" likewise is a player for best drama series and program of the year.

And, for all their talk about the dreck that is broadcast TV and the originality that is cable, the critics gave a big thumbs-up to broadcast in their best-show nominations. Cable accounted for 11 nominations to broadcast's 39 ("The Century" is credited to both ABC and the History Channel).

Cable's noms are spread among seven programs; broadcast's are spread among 22 shows. Take out PBS's seven nominations and you still have 32 for commercial broadcast TV distributed among 17 different programs.

And, among those five PBS shows deemed noteworthy by the TCA is the Rev. Jerry Falwell's favorite, "Teletubbies," nominated for best kids' show.

Each year the TCA gives one trophy for career achievement. This year's nominees are Dick Clark, Don Hewitt, David E. Kelley, Norman Lear, Aaron Spelling and Barbara Walters.

Winners will be announced on July 23 at a ceremony hosted by CBS's new late-night host, Craig Kilborn.

A new late-night national newscast from the team behind public television's "NewsHour With Jim Lehrer" is set to reach the air early next year.

So far, about a dozen PBS stations have agreed to air the show, according to Robert MacNeil, the former "NewsHour" anchor who is working on it for MacNeil-Lehrer Productions.

MacNeil said the second newscast will provide a substantive alternative to the "body bag" journalism of late-night local news programs.

Meanwhile, MacNeil and Lehrer received Quinnipiac College's Fred Friendly First Amendment Award this week for their nightly newscast, which celebrates its 25th anniversary next year. MacNeil retired from the show in 1995.

Accepting their awards, both men also denounced TV networks for viewing news as entertainment, the Associated Press reported.

The late Friendly, the former CBS News president and Columbia University professor who helped put MacNeil and Lehrer together as a team, would be appalled at many news programs today, Lehrer said.

With their opinionated reporters, invasions of privacy and public leering, many news shows resemble professional wrestling, Lehrer said.

Even PBS was not immune from their censure. MacNeil suggested the recent controversy about PBS's "Washington Week in Review" illustrated what happens when ratings become paramount. The show's former moderator, Ken Bode, walked away after he said new management wanted "more attitude" at the program. Management denied the characterization.

"By whoring just for numbers, public television will lose not only its numbers but its soul," MacNeil said in the AP report.

David E. Kelley has picked two new executive producers for "Chicago Hope" for the coming season. CBS renewed the struggling drama series after Kelley promised to become more involved in the show, which he created but on which he hasn't worked much since focusing on newer shows "The Practice" on ABC and "Ally McBeal" on Fox.

The new exec producers are Henry Bromell and Michael Pressman. Director-producer Pressman has worked with Kelley before; he spent four seasons as co-executive producer of Kelley's earlier CBS drama series "Picket Fences." Pressman directed a dozen episodes of that series, including its debut. He also directed the pilot of "Chicago Hope" and the Kelley-written feature film "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday." And he's a co-producer of Kelley's upcoming feature "Lake Placid."

Writer-producer Bromell executive-produced "Homicide: Life on the Street" and was a producer of "I'll Fly Away" and "Northern Exposure."

CAPTION: "Law & Order" and its spinoff want to add "Homicide's" John Munch character, played by Richard Belzer.