Donners may be nearing retirement

GOOD MORNING: Dick Donner wants to retire –“in a couple of years.” It wasn’t Dick talking but his wife, producer Lauren Shuler-Donner, who quickly added, “and I want to be with him when he retires!” She offered the information at the end of our conversation about the long list of movies they plan. The projects include the soon-to-be-released “Free Willy II: The Adventure Home,” for which she said, “We had a mandate to make the sequel better than the original and we feel we have.” In addition to the whales photographed for the adventure, they built three animatronic mammals as Willy’s sister, brother and mother, plus another whale generated totally by computers. Lauren also is exec producing “Assassins,” which Dick directs and produces with Joel Silver. Upcoming for the Donners is “Playing Hurt” (aka “Doctor Football”) about a sports doctor (Mel Gibson?). Also, “Jonny Quest” (the feature version of the comic strip) for Turner, plus “X Men” for Fox; and “Speed Racer” at WB, based on the ’60s animated series. Talking about speed, I spoke with Donner on the “Assassins” location immediately after he’d filmed a six-camera chase scene in which Sylvester Stallone and Julianne Moore raced through a Seattle alley with a briefcase loaded with money — the case rigged to explode when opened. Donner got the shot — complete with explosion and money raining down for a city block. All involved were safe; “I’m overly careful,” Donner said. Despite such action scenes and the title, he assured that Stallone is “a gentle soul” in this pic. “Assassins” boasts another killer, Antonio Banderas. Also gentle. Seeing will be believing.

THAT LOUD CHEER HEARD at Wilshire and Santa Monica boulevards Monday morning was from the CAA staff meeting, where Michael Ovitz announced he isn’t moving to the Valley … Producer Robert Halmi has subbed Armand Assante to replace the injured Christopher Reeve in “Kidnapped,” to start Saturday in England … Jane Seymour and James Keach have doubled their expected stork package: Twins are now due. Thus, she is busy filming ahead “Dr. Quinn” segs for next season — five are completed and the company will take a shorter hiatus. Meanwhile, reaction has been heavy for the two-hour “Washita” segment, which Keach directed. And viewers are requesting a video of the show to be made available. Keach’s “The Stars Fell on Henrietta” WB feature is due out with Robert Duvall and Frances Fisher starring. Fisher just completed her role in “Female Perversions,” in which she did a striptease. How much did she strip? “A little bit here, a little bit there,” she modestly admitted. “But (those on the set) said it was very provocative.” While her personal life (the breakup with Clint Eastwood) is on the negative side, her professional life is very positive as Fisher next starts “The Whiskey Heir” for producer Lawrence Bender (“Pulp Fiction”), director Joanna Manzen with Wendy McKenna and David Andrews. Then Fisher starts her Fox series “Strange Luck,” with a 13-seg order. She plays a waitress in the diner, over which D.B. Sweeney lives … Faye Resnick, whose book “Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted” (Dove) has passed the million-copy mark, has been subpoenaed — by the defense (!) as a witness … Following the Tony Awards wins, Glenn Close and Andrew Lloyd Webber had a long, warm reunion at the “Sunset Boulevard” company’s private celebration party at Carmine’s. Close definitely closes July 2 and plans a (well-deserved) vacation, while scripts await her decision. Among ’em is the role of Cruella in the live-action pic “101 Dalmatians,” which is undergoing revisions.

“MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL — A Concert Celebrating the Music of (Savannah’s own) Johnny Mercer,” will be hosted June 25 at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center by the book’s author, John Berendt. “Mercer House” is the center of the bestseller’s action and it was built by Johnny’s great grandfather. George Wein produces the concert, which will include jazz by Bobby Short, Margaret Whiting, Gerry Mulligan, Bucky Pizzarelli, Emma Kelly (named by Mercer as “the lady of 6,000 songs”), and a very special cameo by “Lady Chablis,” one of Savannah’s most colorful characters — also in the book. John Lee Hancock, who will script the WB feature version of “Midnight,” heads to Savannah to start work on the script … Just under $ 2 million was raised Sunday at the sixth annual A Time For Heroes benefit for Pediatric AIDS Foundation at the Robert Taylor ranch owned and loaned by Kenny Roberts. People mag and the Milken Family Foundation underwrote the event honoring the late Elizabeth Glaser. More than 1, 600 guests were entertained at carnival booths manned by showbiz and sports stars like Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Robin Williams and Danny DeVito, Greg Louganis and Rafer Johnson, Wayne Gretzky and Jimmy Connors.