Powell performs surprise serenade

GOOD MORNING: Not in the script: Colin Powell singing “Our Love Is Here to Stay” to Nancy Reagan at Tuesday’s 85th birthday party for Ronnie R. at Chasen’s. It’s the Reagans’ favorite song. Powell’s voice? “Rich baritone,” said Murray Korda, whose Monseigneur Strings were the musical accompaniment. They also backed Merv Griffin and Johnny Mathis — when Newt Gingrich nixed the budget for an orch to back ’em. The evening, by the way, netted $400,000 for the Reagan Presidential Foundation and Reagan Center for Public Affairs … Both Reagans were at their offices Wednesday ayem, she for a board meeting about the library … Equal time dept.: Bill Press, volunteer chairman of the Demo party of California, is one of the few being considered “on the left” to join Geraldine Ferraro on “Crossfire.” He’s been on the CNN’er five times in January and repeats tonight and Friday. He allows, “It would be great to have a voice from the West — someone out of the Beltway”… I caught up with Charlton Heston at the Reagan birthday bash — he’d just returned from Shepperton and two weeks in Kenneth Branagh’s “Hamlet.” Heston plays the Player King to Rosemary Harris’ Player Queen. They appeared together on B’way in “The Tumbler”– with Laurence Olivier directing. Comparisons between director Olivier and director Branagh are difficult –“Olivier was the protean actor,” reminded Heston. As for Branagh’s direction, Heston allowed, “He may be an even greater director than he is an actor. And his Iago in ‘Othello’ is the best Iago I have ever seen.” He also called Branagh “an actor-friendly director.” Robin Williams had just completed his “Hamlet” role as Osric, and Billy Crystal is doing his First Grave Digger role, Jack Lemmon starts his as Marcellus, etc. Castle Rock’s prez Martin Shafer admitted to Heston, “The great thing about Shakespeare films is that you can get any actor and don’t have to pay them anything.” Heston admits they get paid “scale — plus a little — but we’d really do it for nothing — if everybody else agreed to do it for nothing.” Iambic pentameter sure cut down the multimillion-$alaries.

“I’M TIRED OF POLICE STORIES — always police stories,” Jackie Chan told me on his arrival for tonight’s preem of Golden Harvest-New Line’s “Rumble in the Bronx.””I have some ideas of my own for movies I’d like to do.” One of ’em is a Western. Also one in which he’d work for the CIA. I’d last spoken to Jackie at the opening of the Planet Hollywood in Hong Kong and his English has improved terrifically. “I’m trying,” he said. “It’s very difficult.” (Meanwhile, my knowledge of Chinese remains nonexistent). He said he’d re-shot “Rumble” scenes for the U.S. after its Hong Kong bow –“It was too Asian,” he said. “So, they waited for me to cut it and also re-dub it with my voice entirely. I don’t like subtitles.” He likes to do multiple jobs on his films –“I want to edit, do the music. But the most important thing for me is the script — not the money.” “Rumble” is only his fifth U.S. film (shot in Vancouver with some Bronx scenes). His 15-year “deal” with Raymond Chow and Golden Harvest continues. “We have a handshake — it’s Chinese tradition and is more important than the written word”… Chuck Norris and longtime g.f. Monica Hall have set Aug. 10 as their wedding date. Norris, also celebrating his “Walker, Texas Ranger” CBS show’s breakthrough into the top 10 ranks, has his second book on the stalls, “The Secret Power Within — Zen Solutions to Real Problems” (Little Brown) … George Burns’ “100 Years — 100 Stories” (Putnam), No. 11 on the Wall Street Journal’s list this week, hits No.14 next week on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. And George, as we know, has not been able to do one p.a. for the book.

WHATTA BIRTHDAY GIFT! Garth Brooks donated a million dollars to Olympic Aid-Atlanta, the partnership between UNICEF and the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games to provide immunization and educational programs to children in 14 war-torn countries on the occasion of the Summer Olympic Games. Whatta guy! You can help, too: 800-FOR-KIDS … Since there are no memorial services at all planned for Gene Kelly, the family’s requested contributions be sent to the Motion Picture & TV Fund in Woodland Hills. Kelly dedicated a cottage there in 1992 … Lynn Redgrave showcases her free Shakespeare Master Class students at the Louis B. Mayer Theater at the MPTV Fund grounds Saturday before an industry-invited audience. More than 1,200 thesps have come by her classes over the past nine months. She heads to B’way and “Moon Over Buffalo” next week. Husband John Clark continues classes Mondays … Susan and Richard Moll welcomed son Mason Charles M. on Tuesday at Santa Monica Hospital. The happy grandparents are Lorna and Milton Berle … For the first time in 20 years, Mel Torme will not play the Hollywood Bowl this summer — a conflict with the date they offered him and his already-set tour. But he’ll be at Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 23-24.