‘Postman’ helmer could deliver mystery

GOOD MORNING: “The Postman” always rings twice. Harvey Weinstein’s in “serious discussions” with “Il Postino’s” director Michael Radford to direct Warwick Collins’ mystery “The Rationalist” (Knopf), scripted by David Hoag. Great fans of the book (bought by Miramax six months ago) include Emma Thompson, Annette Bening and Ralph Fiennes. The story is about a country doctor in England , a mystery woman and her daughter. The ever-exuberant Weinstein says the universal reaction to “Postman” has “been most exciting for me.” And he is, of course, hopeful it will repeat the precedents set by “Z” and “Cries and Whispers” by getting a best picture nomination in spite of its foreign origin. Harvey says the Miramax banner hopes to complete 20 pics in the next year (or so), with the same quality as “Il Postino.” He had just returned from Orlando and Disney World: A retreat was being held there for execs of the Disney empire, who were flown in from around the world to preview the Disney Institute, which bows officially March 1-4. Weinstein complimented “Michael Eisner’s vision for artists to reach into the community.” The institute not only boasts state-of-the-art theaters, live and film, but a venue for visiting professors, workshops, fitness centers, spa, etc. The visiting execs were invited to try programs ranging from climbing rock walls to learning about culinary arts. In addition to the indoor theaters, there’s an outdoor amphitheater, and an athletic building housing a NBA-size basketball court, where the U.S. Olympic team will train … In N.Y. tonight, James Earl Jones (“Cry, the Beloved Country”) is one of the honorees at CORE’s (Congress of Racial Equality’s) Martin Luther King “Living the Dream” awards, hosted by national chairman Roy Innis and co-chair, Westinghouse’s Michael Jordan … And the Religious Public Relations Council has requested “Cry” to be included in its Wilbur Award competition.

“A VERY BRADY SEQUEL” starts filming at Par Tuesday as the first “Brady” feature tops the $47 million mark domestically, reports a very happy Alan Ladd Jr. He wings to Australia next week for the final weeks of “The Phantom,” which is coming in at $45 million. Coincidentally, Australians are big “Brady Bunch” fans: The pic’s taken in $3.5 million Down Under, where the series still airs daily. From the “Phantom” stage at the very modern, 10-years-young WB studio near Brisbane, director Simon Wincer told me the final, 14-day spectacular sequence now starting is on a set costing $700,000. (It would have cost double that amount here, he reminds.) Designer Paul Peters created the biggest interior ever built there; it includes a pirates’ lair, plus city streets where the Phantom, Billy Zane, confronts the villain Treat Williams, plus Cary Tigawa and dozens of baddies. But, Zane told me, “This is the kind of movie without a body count — you don’t need bloodshed.” To help him in his bloodless wins is Bob Anderson, who coached Errol Flynn. “This is every boy’s fantasy,” admits Zane. And the romance with Kristy Swanson “is also in classic Hollywood tradition — with a kiss at the end.” The comic strip’s creator Lee Falk (in his 80s) visited the film troupe and was most impressed. The “Phantom” franchise (sequels) has unique access to history, giving the future pics unlimited storylines, they remind … Back here in Hollywood, at the “Eye for an Eye” premiere, producer Michael Levy, while walking the red carpet along with Sally Field and Kiefer Sutherland at the Paramount studio theater, was handed what he thought was a congratulatory message — it was a subpoena to appear as a witness in a lawsuit … Richard Dreyfuss attends Hollywood Pictures’ Jan. 18 “Mr. Holland’s Opus” screening at the Cinerama Dome benefiting Tripod, for hearing-impaired children and their families. Simultaneously with the Dome screening, a closed-caption showing for the hearing impaired will take place at the Hollywood Galaxy … Proud parents at the preem of MGM/UA’s “Bio-Dome”: Jake and Ruth Bloom plus Sammy Shore — Jason Bloom makes his directorial debut in the Pauly Shore comedy.

MORE STUNT CASTING: PBS’ “Mr. Rogers,” Fred Rogers, will guest on the Feb. 17 (air date) of “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” playing a minister — which he is off screen. Rogers will be appropriately garbed for the 1867-set series, but producer Tim Johnson assures me he will be recognizable — as will his dialogue. Jane Seymour returned to work on the CBSeries last Friday, accompanied by her twin babies, Jonathan and Christopher …”High Society’s” Mary McDonnell has the day off to attend tonight’s Palm Springs Fest’s preem of her Showtime murder mystery “Woman Undone,” which airs Feb. 4 … The blizzard caused Dean Jones to work two extra days on the Georgia location of Disney’s “That Darn Cat,” since storms partially damaged the film going to a N.Y. lab with two of Jones’ key scenes … A daylong casting session was held at Igby’s for ABC’s new “Dana Carvey Show”– the club’s where Carvey was spotted by Lorne Michaels for “SNL.”

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