The Powers That Be at Paramount recently made official what Trekkers have suspected all along - the upcoming seventh season of "Deep Space Nine" will be the last.

That is, after all, the pattern set by "Star Trek: The Next Generation." And it's one of those business things.Series get more and more expensive to produce as they go along. Actors get raises every year, as do producers and writers and so on. By the end of this seventh season, "DS9" will have produced 182 episodes - the most for any "Trek" series. With that many installments, the show can easily run pretty much perpetually in reruns, so there's no upside for Paramount to produce more episodes.

Executive producer Rick Berman issued a statement: "Like `Star Trek: The Next Generation,' we had always intended to tell the story of `Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' in the span of seven years."

(If that's true, then why were the actors signed to six-year contracts when the series began?)

"As we embark on the seventh and final season," Berman continued, "we look forward to concluding this important chapter in `Star Trek' history."

Comments like these have given rise to reports that the series will somehow resolve the ongoing war between the Federation (the good guys) and the Dominion (the bad guys) before the end of the season. But that interpretation is directly contradicted by reports that the crew of "Star Trek: Voyager" will return to the Federation sometime during the upcoming season and inherit the storyline involving the Dominion and the Cardassians, just the way "DS9" inherited the Cardassian conflict from "Next Gen."

What we do know for sure is that Canadian actress Nicole deBoer will join the "DS9" cast as Ezri Dax, the replacement for the departed Terry Farrell and her character, Jadzia Dax.

(One last time, Farrell left the show of her own accord. While the other regulars signed on for a seventh season, she chose to exit at the end of her original six-year contract. She will be co-starring alongside Ted Danson in the CBS midseason replacement sitcom "Becker" - which, by the way, is also a Paramount show.)

And deBoer is no stranger to science-fiction TV shows set in space. She was one of the stars of the Canadian series "Mission Genesis," which aired briefly in this country on the Sci-fi Channel.

Ezri is a young Trill who recently graduated from Starfleet Academy and who unexpectedly becomes the host for the Dax symbiont after Jadzia's death - thus acquiring the life experiences of seven previous hosts over some 300 years.

"The new character of Ezri Dax should add an intriguing element to this final season," Berman said. "Her unexpected struggle to cope with seven newly acquired personalities should bring us some fascinating story arcs as well as a great deal of humor."

Not to mention some degree of pathos as Worf (Michael Dorn) tries to come to terms with the death of his wife, Jadzia.

The seventh season premiere of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" is scheduled to air Saturday, Oct. 4, on KSTU-Ch. 13.

SUMMER SUCCESS: The ratings for Fox's "Guinness World Records - Prime Time" have been surprisingly good - it has won its time periods just about every week that it has been on, albeit against repeat programming on the other networks.

But the ratings have been so good that Fox has picked it up as a midseason replacement series.

Which will be great for all of you who really liked seeing that guy with the drill up his nose.

There's no word when "Guinness" will find a more permanent slot, but there's speculation that it will air Thursdays at 8 p.m. - perhaps as soon as this month - to fill the fall schedule hole that has been apparently vacated by the much-troubled "Hollyweird."

REPRISING HER ROLE: Khandi Alexander, who left "NewsRadio" in the middle of last season, will return for the fall premiere - which is scheduled to air on Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Her character, Catherine Duke, returns to New York from her job in London to attend the memorial service for Bill McNeal, the character played by the late Phil Hartman. And Catherine discovers that she's mentioned in the letter that Bill left to be read in case of his death.

Alexander, who's starring in the Los Angeles production of "Chicago," also appeared in two movies with Hartman - "Greedy" and "CB4."

LAST NAMES FIRST: During a report last week on BYU basketball player Mekeli Wesley's academic problems, Ch. 4 sportscaster Justin Farmer referred to him as "Wesley Mekeli" and, later, "Mekeli."

A little knowledge of the local sports scene never hurts.

BRADSHAW-ISMS: During a sort of goofy interview with the decidedly goofy Terry Bradshaw on "Sports-Beat Sunday," the ex-Steeler quarterback said, "Can you imagine how much fun I would've had at BYU playing that offense?"

And Bradshaw probably isn't on Detroit (and former U.) quarterback Scott Mitchell's Christmas-card list. "Some players just cannot perform in pressure-packed situations. I think Scott's one of them," he said.