Not that it's been gone (I almost wrote "gong" there - Freudian slip) or anything like that. It's just that there has been some doubt about whether or not the much-maligned infotainment series was going to be renewed for a second season beginning next fall. But GTG Entertainment president Grant Tinker confirmed late last week that the syndicated program will, indeed, be back next year.

Not only that, but the program is gearing up for what one marketing executive calls "a major relaunch" next month - a $4 million national promotion effort intended "to get every potential viewer in America to take a fresh look at us."That's important for "USA Today," because a lot of the viewers who sampled the show early in its run have never returned for a second look. And with good reason. In its earliest form, "USA Today" was a mess - an overblown, overhyped monument to the "style over substance" school of television thought. But lately the show has improved considerably. It is more comfortably paced, with the emphasis shifting from "tainment" to "info."

Don't get me wrong - it's still no "Prime Time Access," but it is worthy of a second look - and probably a second season.

- ALSO RENEWED: Phil Donahue, whose talk show contract with Multi-Media has been extended through 1992.

And Jay Leno has signed on for another year as The Tonight Show's permanent, exclusive sub-for-Johnny. ("I think it's the best job in television," said Leno of his new deal. "And since it's only one day a week I don't have to quit my day job."