Former studio chief joins Ryder jury. The actress made three films for Columbia while juror Peter Guber was in charge of the studio

By Gary Susman
Updated October 28, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST
Winona Ryder: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/Newscom

Proof that Beverly Hills is a company town came with the list of those who made up the jury pool in the Winona Ryder shoplifting trial. Employees, or spouses of employees, of several film studios were potential jurors. In the end, one empaneled member of the jury turned out to be someone with close professional ties to Ryder: former Sony Pictures studio chief Peter Guber, who greenlit three pictures starring Ryder during his tenure at Sony in the early 1990s.

Guber and partner Jon Peters left Sony in 1994, after a series of flops led to a $3.2 billion write-off. He currently runs production company Mandalay Pictures (”The Score,” ”Serving Sara.”) During jury selection on Friday, when asked if he was familiar with the actress, he said, ”I was the chairman of Sony Pictures when one of our companies made a film with Ms. Ryder,” Reuters reports. (Actually, Sony made three movies with Ryder while Guber was the chief: ”Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” ”The Age of Innocence,” and ”Little Women,” the last two of which earned her Oscar nominations.) When Ryder’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, asked Guber, ”You’re not afraid of working in this town again?” he replied, ”Me? No.”

Other potential jurors were not so eager to sit in judgment over Ryder, including a casting director who said she was considering Ryder for a possible film role, a man whose wife works for Disney, and a woman who works for MGM. All were excused from the jury pool, Reuters reports.

With the jury selected, opening statements were scheduled for Monday. Ryder has pleaded not guilty to the shoplifting charges and faces three years behind bars if convicted.

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