Well, sorry for the trouble, but it seems this was a false alarm.
After a screen-share session with Dell, it turns out that this is a legitimate file associated with the program that runs the multi-media card reader on the computer.
But it wasn't entirely obvious without a little digging and the tech had already gotten calls about this...
IOW, it had been loading at startup all along, but I hadn't noticed until today.
I had been really spooked to find it in TM on my Win7 64 desktop and NOT in TM on my Win7 32 laptop -- led me to suspect it was a rogue file, since only the one Win 7 computer was running it.
Of course, the innocent explanation was that the laptop doesn't have the multi-media card reader device.
I've removed the process from the startup list in the system configuration, since I don't need it to load at startup.
As for the Black Screen, we determined it to be an unrelated problem relating to the MYRIAD issues with Win 7 and power management (many of which are holdovers from Vista). TMALSS, it relates to "Ready Boost" (aka "Ready Boot" in Vista), and it's a known issue. LOTS of dialogue at the MS fora about this and related issues. All known to Redmond, I am told. IOW, there should be a fix eventually (patch or SP1). In the interim, there is some sort of workaround involving forcing ReadyBoost to "save" its files not to the HDD but to a USB flash drive. Scheduled a call back from Dell for next week to try it out.
Again, thanks for your time and trouble.
Sorry for the false alarm,