Seeking a sure hit, Hollywood turns to the tried-and-true ?- Remakes like 'The Parent Trap' and 'City of Angels' are safe bets for studios

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same — but this is a little ridiculous. ”The truth is there are no original stories” left for Hollywood, says Dennis Quaid, who’ll be seen this summer with Natasha Richardson in a remake of The Parent Trap. ”Just fresh takes on things.” Maybe. Maybe not. But just consider that there are more than 30 major movie remakes in the works — not to mention the current success of City of Angels, an update of Wim Wenders’ 1988 art-house classic Wings of Desire, which has grossed nearly $50 million in three weeks. In addition to Disney’s Trap, this summer brings Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow in Warner Bros.’ A Perfect Murder, a thriller inspired by Dial M for Murder; as well as Twentieth Century Fox’s update of Doctor Dolittle, starring Eddie Murphy. Remakes of Gloria, with Sharon Stone in the Gena Rowlands role, and Mighty Joe Young, starring Bill Paxton and Charlize Theron, will show up in the fall. If you think about it, even the summer’s blockbuster bully, Godzilla, is a remake. Other high-profile Take Twos coming down the line:

· Sleepless in Seattle costars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are currently in New York shooting Warner’s You’ve Got Mail, a contemporary version of the 1940 James Stewart-Margaret Sullavan romantic comedy The Shop Around the Corner, due in December.

· Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn are filming Paramount’s The Out-of-Towners, a remake of the 1970 Neil Simon comedy about hapless tourists in Manhattan, also due in December.

· Chris O’Donnell will play a single man who has 24 hours to find a bride in order to claim a large inheritance in New Line’s The Bachelor, an upcoming update of the 1925 Buster Keaton silent film Seven Chances.

· Writer-director Robert Harling (The Evening Star) has just finished the script for a ’90s version of the 1942 supernatural farce I Married a Witch for Tom Cruise’s production company. ”In 1942, they were hampered by their limited ability to create special effects,” says Harling. ”Now we can do anything. We don’t have to have strings closing doors to convey the story.” No word yet on whether Cruise and Nicole Kidman will star.

· One of the stranger remakes on the horizon: Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant has announced plans to faithfully re-create shot for shot Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 screamer Psycho. Van Sant has said he will use Hitch’s original shooting script and feature young, hip actors, a la Scream, for this Universal project. Casting is now under way for a spring or summer shoot.

How to explain all the video-store ransacking? ”It’s the safety-net factor,” figures new Parent Trap director Nancy Meyers, who produced both successful Father of the Bride remakes. ”If you look at [the original] Parent Trap or The Shop Around the Corner, you say, ‘That works.’ That’s a very good feeling for a studio.”

From the artists’ standpoint, a remake provides the chance to put their own personal stamp on a classic tale. ”Nobody got p—ed off when they turned Romeo and Juliet into West Side Story,” says Harling. ”It was a whole new reinvention of the wheel.”