Stephen M. Silverman
October 28, 2002 01:10 PM

Jury selection took place Friday in the shoplifting case of Winona Ryder, and former Sony Pictures chief Peter Guber ending up on the six-man, six-woman panel, Reuters reports.

Asked by Beverly Hills Superior Court Judge Elden Fox to list his occupation, Guber, 60, replied: “head of an entertainment company called Mandalay.” He had already raised his hand when Fox inquired if any of the prospective jurors were familiar with the “Girl, Interrupted” star.

“I was the chairman of Sony Pictures when one of our companies made a film with Ms. Ryder,” Guber said. Others familiar included a casting director who said she was considering Ryder for a role, and a husband whose wife worked for the Walt Disney Company. Both were excused from service.

But Guber remained. “You’re not afraid of working in this town again (if Ryder is convicted)?” Ryder’s attorney, Mark Geragos (tongue planted firmly in cheek) asked Guber.

“Me? No,” said Guber as onlookers laughed. “I believe I would be fair and impartial,” he later added.

Ryder starred in Sony Pictures’ “Dracula” in 1992, “The Age of Innocence” in 1993 and “Little Women” in 1994.

The actress, 30, wore a white dress, a long blue coat and red shoes in the courtroom. She also took extensive notes on a legal pad, Reuters reports .

Ryder, who was arrested last December at the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Beverly Hills for allegedly stealing nearly $6,000 worth of merchandise, could face up to three years in prison if convicted of the three felony counts against her: grand theft, second-degree burglary and vandalism. She has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Opening statements in the case are set to begin Monday afternoon.

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