March announces he has AIDS

GOOD MORNING: “I want you to announce it so there’s no gossip, no whispers — I have been diagnosed with AIDS,” Donald March, producer and former CBS and HBO exec, told me Monday. “Doctors say I have three to four years of quality life. And who knows, if I don’t have the stress and anxiety of not being able to reveal it, I might have another year — or more — if a cure is found. The Hollywood system puts you into the state of stress and anxiety. It’s a shame that this kind of Hollywood system causes us to indulge in self-censorship.” March, who had been president of CBS theatrical films, is preparing “The Man in the Attic,” based on a true story from 1930, scripted by Duane Poole; they are now talking to a director. March said he had to miss a meeting with the web last week and didn’t want to admit (to CBS) it was because of an appointment with a medical specialist. He now feels he can work without disguising himself for no reason. “I know people who do have it (AIDS) — and go to work and don’t admit it,” he said. “I worked last weekend on the Emmy Blue Ribbon Committee — and I know people noticed I had lost weight. I made up my mind then I would take this step and call you. I had been holding back returning phone calls — now I can feel comfortable calling.” Among March’s many credits is “The Billionaire Boys Club,” which he exec produced. It’s now being named by the Menendez freres as an incitement to their actions. “It’s amusing,” March admits. He also produced another highly dramatic real life story, “David” (Rothenberg, who was torched by his father). “Two years ago,” says March, “I wouldn’t have felt comfortable with this decision (to tell you). But I’ve reevaluated my priorities — no lies no bull.” Both his parents died in 1991. In 1992 he was hit while in a crosswalk, tossed 10 feet in the air and almost died. And last Christmas Day, he was awakened by a burglar who put a gun to his head and threatened to kill him. “And now this — God must have a reason for me to be around,” March said positively. “Now — I’m taking charge of my destiny.”

FORMER SURGEON GENERAL C. Everett Koop has partnered with famed L.A. surgeon Dr. Steven Gans and Texas surgeon Dr. Paul Goursach for a series of videocassettes, the first of which will be “How to Quit Smoking, NOW!”… An exuberant Lynda Carter told me, “I’ve got my family back.” Her husband, Washington lawyer Robert Altman, was acquitted in the BCCI bank scandal fraud in a dramatic courtroom scene in New York. The case had been going on for 2 1/2 years and more than five months in court. Lynda said they are being besieged with requests from all the reality shows, plus “20/20″‘ and the like — and magazine and book deals. But Monday, all they were interested in was taking their 5-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter to the beach for a vacation “and a new life.” Sure, she’ll return to showbiz as well … Anthony Hopkins has decided not to star in Alan Parker’s “Road to Wellville,” in which he was to play John Kellogg, the early-day fitness guru. Hopkins, who has hopped from one starring role to another, is midway through “Legend of the Fall” and “Wellville” has a Nov. 1 start date. Bill Murray was to have starred with Hopkins … Lou Rawls plays the “hood patriarch who runs the local newsstand” in the bigscreen “Lookin’ Italian,” and Rawls dons a beard and moustache for the first time for the movie outing … Margo and Irwin Winkler told Robert De Niro they were taking him to “a new restaurant where you won’t even know anybody.” You know it — they took him to a N.Y. office building set-dressed to look like an eatery where all his pals were awaiting to wish him a happy 50th birthday. Guests included Francis Coppola, who produces De Niro’s next, “Frankenstein,” and Kenneth Branagh, who directs and co-stars. A Who’s Who of Hollywood was intro’d by a hilarious Robin Williams.

SAD TO LEARN STEWART GRANGER (80) died of cancer at St. John’s. He was always a bon vivant and a joy on his many sets I visited. And he brought much joy to moviegoers, from such escapist movies as “King Solomon’s Mines” and “The Prisoner of Zenda.” His real name was Jimmy Stewart and, of course he had to change it professionally, but his pals always called him Jimmy … Meagan and Tim Matheson welcomed son Copper T. at Cedars-Sinai Aug. 12. Papa fortunately had the day off filming ABC’s “Shameful Secrets”… Sugar Ray Leonard and Bernadette Robi will wed Friday at Pacific Palisades. Ray bows his fitness video this week as well … Keith Carradine told me Monday “I’m completely cured”– but it was too late to return to “Will Rogers Follies” as Mac Davis takes over Saturday and Larry Gatlin stars on the tour next February … Wednesday night belongs to director Walter Grauman, whose original “Fugitive” one-hour pilot (1963) airs on NBC while one of his directed “Murder, She Wrote” segs airs on USA cable and a Grauman-reined “Streets of SanFran” is on WOR-TV Satellite … Songwriter Harry Tobias will be celebrating his 98th birthday Sept. 11 when the Eddie Cantor Lodge of the B’nai B’rith fetes him at the Friars.