"Suspect," the movie filmed mostly in Washington earlier this year, will premiere here tonight at the Circle Avalon. The stars of the film, Dennis Quaid and Cher, are not expected to attend, but director Peter Yates, who also made "Bullitt" and "Breaking Away," will be there. The opening-night proceeds will benefit the Sasha Bruce House, a home for runaway children here named for the late daughter of Evangeline and David Bruce.

The film has Cher playing a public defender representing a Vietnam veteran in a Washington murder trial. Quaid plays a lawyer-lobbyist on the jury who helps her solve the crime. (Did I hear a motion for a mistrial?) Washington lawyer-lobbyist Steve Martindale said he taught Quaid how to play a lobbyist -- "I taught him how to be superficial," he said yesterday. He said Quaid also went to former senator Gaylord Nelson to learn what Washington power figures are like and even visited Nelson's home state of Wisconsin. In the film, Quaid brings Nelson's name into the plot by identifying himself as "a former administrative aide to Senator Gaylord Nelson." Out and About Jack Lemmon, nominated seven times for an Academy Award and a winner twice, has been named the 1988 recipient of the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, an honor that in the past 16 years has gone to such film legends as Henry Fonda, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, James Cagney, Fred Astaire, John Huston and Bette Davis. In announcing the award, AFI Chairman Bonita Granville Wrather said the 62-year-old Lemmon has "advanced the filmmaking art in a fundamental way" and has made an "enormous contribution to the art form through his work on behalf of film preservation." Among Lemmon's films are "Mister Roberts," "Some Like It Hot," "The Apartment," "Days of Wine and Roses," "Save the Tiger" and "The China Syndrome." The dinner honoring Lemmon will be held March 10 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and will be telecast later on CBS ...

Sen. John Warner was expected to be a competitor in the Invitational Celebrity Riders Class at the Washington International Horse Show this Sunday, but a leg cast and crutches will keep him dismounted for a while. Warner was injured Saturday when a golf cart ran into him at the International Gold Cup Races in Virginia. He is expected to be in a cast for about eight weeks. Among the celebrity contenders Sunday will be retired Marine commandant Gen. P. X. Kelley, presidental Press Secretary James Brady and former OAS secretary general Alejandro Orfila ...

Andrei Ustinov, the dancer with the Moscow Ballet who disappeared last week on the group's first American tour, has been granted political asylum in the United States. Ustinov, 32, left the troupe in Dallas last Thursday, approached a stranger on the street and indicated he wanted to defect. The Dallas stop was the seventh on the Moscow Ballet's two-month, 21-city tour ...

Betsy North has received the National Fulltime Homemaker Award from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum. Betsy, of course, is the dutiful wife of former National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Oliver North who sat smiling silently behind her husband during the Iran-contra hearings. Described as the organization's highest honor, the award is given to a full-time homemaker who is "raising her family on a single income earned by her husband." Schlafly, who is not a full-time homemaker, says, "The media massively discriminate against full-time motherhood by propagating and repeating the lie that traditional families are obsolete and demanding that the taxpayers subsidize child care for two-earner families" ...