Millie the presidential spaniel made a brief and secret visit to a South Carolina veterinarian to be spayed two weeks ago.

Troubled by false pregnancies, the pooch was sent from the White House to the clinic of a Columbia veterinarian for the surgery, WIS television station reported yesterday. The White House did not want to put Millie's difficulties in the media spotlight, so her Army veterinarian drove about 475 miles to Randy Basinger's clinic, the station reported.

"It has been regarded as a private family matter," Barbara Bush's press secretary, Anna Perez, said last night.

Rain on Atlanta's King Parade

A storm is brewing in Atlanta over the choice of Gen. Colin Powell to be honorary grand marshal for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade there on Jan. 21. The decision to invite the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was made by parade organizers at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. But the issue of having a career military man be part of a ceremony honoring a lifelong pacifist has raised the hackles of the Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Lowery, who was a close associate of King, said, "While I have a great deal of admiration for Colin Powell, under the present circumstances I have deep concern."

Steve Klein, a spokesman for the King Center, said the decision to invite Powell was made long ago and wasn't connected to the current military buildup, adding that "this in no way compromises the goals of the King Center." He said Powell might not even be able to honor the commitment. Powell, the first black to be appointed to the country's top military position, is in charge of what King once called "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world," but Powell frequently quotes the civil rights leader in his speeches. Lowery said the parade has created "an awkward set of circumstances that neither a King holiday or General Powell ought to have to face."

Smithsonian Leaders Past & Present

The incoming number two at the Smithsonian, Metro General Manager Carmen Turner, had a social lunch with her predecessor, the ousted Dean Anderson, at Bamiyan in Old Town Alexandria yesterday. Said Turner, "Mostly we talked about my kid going to school in Wisconsin," adding that it wasn't the time or place to talk with Anderson about his Smithsonian experiences. Anderson came away favorably impressed: "Carmen Turner struck me as being kind, patient, smart and fully up to the task of trying to heal the recent rifts at the Smithsonian." Turner is scheduled to begin her new job Dec. 17. The former and future Smithsonian undersecretaries were joined by Theodore Lutz, a vice president of The Washington Post and a former Metro general manager himself.

Burt Lancaster Ailing

Actor Burt Lancaster was rushed to Los Alamitos Medical Center in California yesterday in serious condition, but hospital officials wouldn't release any details of his condition.

Lancaster, 77, was taken by ambulance to the emergency room and officials said he would be admitted to the intensive-care unit. His agent, Ben Benjamin, said last night, "He's undergoing tests. We don't know anything and we're just waiting." The call to paramedics indicated Lancaster may have had a heart attack but the paramedics' initial assessment at the scene was that he had suffered a stroke.

The veteran actor, who starred in "Elmer Gantry" and "Atlantic City," as well as the classics "Come Back, Little Sheba" and "From Here to Eternity," was released from the film "Old Gringo" in 1988 because of frail health.

Madonna's Banned Video to Air

NBC announced yesterday that "Saturday Night Live" will air an edited version of the Madonna music video deemed too hot for MTV. The network emphasized that tonight's show won't air the unexpurgated edition of Madonna's new "Justify My Love" video, which depicts bisexuality, voyeurism, a little nudity and a lot of mascara. What will appear is "a selected edited version of the video that meets NBC standards guidelines," NBC spokeswoman Rosemary Keenan said.

The Kennedys' Newest Author

Caroline Kennedy is to become a published author. Set for February publication is a book titled "In Our Defense," which she co-wrote with Ellen Alderman about the ratification of the Bill of Rights. The two wrote the book while at Columbia Law School, and it will be released in time for the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights in February.