When the guard changes at a Hollywood studio, new bosses never want to be caught making the same kind of deals their ousted predecessors made. But lately the guard has changed so often at Columbia Pictures that the studio is now in the middle of an intriguing flip-flop.

It started during the short regime of British producer David Puttnam, who alienated Hollywood by openly disdaining the movie industry's star system, to the point of offending actors like Bill Murray. So when Puttnam was fired and replaced by Dawn Steel, she immediately made an effort to let stars know that Columbia would treat them hospitably; before she'd made any movies, Steel had cut production and development deals with a large number of actors and actresses. But now Steel's gone too -- and if the new atmosphere at Columbia isn't as anti-star as it was in Puttnam's day, the current regime of Peter Guber and Jon Peters has been quietly letting most of Steel's deals expire.

Among the stars whose deals with Columbia have now lapsed, according to Daily Variety, are Madonna, Molly Ringwald, Diane Keaton, Sean Penn, Matthew Broderick, Emilio Estevez, Kevin Bacon, Mikhail Baryshnikov and, as soon as his current contract runs out, Richard Gere. Despite the move, Columbia says it looks forward to continuing relationships with all the actors and actresses whose deals the company has decided not to renew.

The New Life of Riley

The Los Angeles Lakers are clearly Hollywood's favorite sports team, and a variety of movie industry bigwigs have courtside tickets. So it figures that no sooner did he announce his retirement this week than the sartorially minded Lakers coach, Pat Riley, acknowledged that he's about to sign a movie deal. Riley has been in negotiations with Michael Douglas's Stonebridge Entertainment, one of the actor-driven companies still affiliated with Columbia. Stonebridge, for its part, is developing a romantic drama about a professional basketball coach. Riley will be involved in the development of the story and will probably co-produce the movie, but he won't star in it; no word on whether Douglas, who resembled Riley when he wore his "Wall Street" get-up of stylish suits and slicked-back hair, will play the part.

On the Bottom Line

Both "Another 48 Hrs." and "Total Recall" now look as if they might be vulnerable to the "Dick Tracy" onslaught that begins today. Last weekend the Eddie Murphy/Nick Nolte sequel did well (although some observers think Paramount's $19.5 million figure is inflated), but its per-screen figure wasn't strong enough to suggest that the picture is a guaranteed smash; "Total Recall," for its part, also made lots of money but saw a second-weekend drop-off of 41 percent ... And here's an industry in which the balance of trade still favors the United States: Worldwide film rentals shattered the existing record last year as Hollywood movies brought their distributors $3.13 billion. The country that sent the most money to the States was Japan, which increased its total 46 percent to more than $200 million.

Short Takes

Deric Washburn, who wrote the screenplay for "The Deer Hunter," has been signed to write the upcoming Warner Bros. film "The Death of Napoleon," in which Jack Nicholson is to play the title role ... "thirtysomething" co-creators Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz will team up for a film version of the Robin Hood story. Herskovitz will begin directing the film in Wales on Sept. 3 for Tri-Star. 20th Century Fox and Morgan Creek productions are also working on movies about Robin Hood ... Eric Bogosian's one-man off-Broadway show, "Sex, Drugs, Rock and Roll," will be made into a movie by Avenue Pictures. Bogosian himself, who starred in "Talk Radio," will probably direct the film ... Brian Grazer, a partner in Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment, has bought the feature film rights to the "Curious George" children's books from Hanna-Barbera. Grazer plans to make a live-action movie from the books, which star a monkey and his owner.