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`DESIGNING WOMEN,' `QUANTUM LEAP' AXED

A pair of long-running series won't be back next season - CBS' "Designing Women" and NBC's "Quantum Leap."

But both will get farewell episodes next month."Women," which is completing its sixth season, will sign off on May 27 with an hourlong episode in which the design firm faces a hostile takeover. And "Leap" wraps things up on May 5 with an episode in which Sam leaps into his own life.

The reasons for the cancellations are simple - declining ratings. "Women," which moved from Mondays to Fridays this season, fell from No. 6 to No. 67 and lost 43 percent of its audience.

And, truthfully, it was probably time for this once-fine series to go. It had lost much of its luster the past couple of years.

"Leap" kept the same Tuesday time slot, but still lost 21 percent of its audience and fell from No. 63 to No. 91. Never a big hit, its future has been in doubt throughout its 41/2-year run.

ANOTHER TWIST: Reportedly, "Designing Women" star Annie Potts has been negotiating with the producers of "Love & War" to replace the departed Susan Dey on that series.

STRONG DENIAL: In a very unusual move, NBC has strongly denied a report that Garry Shandling is about to be named as David Letterman's "Late Night" successor.

The network's statement begins by saying that "While it is NBC's policy not to comment on rumors, speculation and comments by unnamed sources, (the April 22) front-page Hollywood Reporter article on Garry Shandling is so inaccurate that we felt a responsibility to respond."

NBC insists that it has not offered Shandling the job, that it is not Shandling's to OK, that it is not negotiating with HBO, and that there is no battle over who would produce a Shandling show on NBC.

"NBC is currently reviewing several options regarding plans for the . . . "Late Night" show, and an announcement will be made in the near future," the statement concludes.

But reports persist that NBC does want Shandling, but Shandling's commitment to produce 17 more episodes of his HBO "Larry Sanders Show" stands in the way. Or that Shandling is waffling over what to do.

Stay tuned . . .