It's been a helluva few days for actress Winona Ryder. Subjected to ridicule in every form since her arrest for allegedly shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, Ryder has nevertheless comported herself like a champ. She's held her head high, made her court appearances, and did not stoop to the level of so many tabloid celebrities.
This week, her case took an unexpected turn. Lynched in the press, Ryder came out smelling like a rose when Extra (not Access Hollywood as we mistakenly reported earlier) showed the in-store video tape of her alleged shopping spree at Saks. Indeed, Ryder was busy conversing with sales people, trying on hats and accessories, and not — as had been previously reported — cutting off the alarm tags on items she planned to steal.
"We've known about the tape for two weeks," one of Winona's pals told me yesterday. "We knew that it would be a huge help. The Los Angeles District Attorney's office said they didn't want to try this case in the press, then they did exactly that."
So what's Winona doing while the case drags on?
"She's seeing agents and directors, having meetings and looking for new projects. She's feeling great, and she's ready to go back to work immediately. There's no reason why she can't."
The word on Ryder's performance in Adam Sandler's Mr. Deeds, due June 28th, is that she is very, very funny by the way. Audiences may have forgotten that Ryder's droll sense of humor was what made Beetlejuice and Heathers each such fan favorites.
My colleague Mitchell Fink made an excellent point the other night on the Fox 5 News here in New York. David Letterman never would have moved to ABC. He used the network as a bargaining tool with CBS.
Letterman has always griped about having to wait 35 minutes from the end of network programming to start his show. He has complained about local news lead-ins for 20 years. And the thing he fears most is being pre-empted.
On ABC, Letterman would have had to deal with Monday Night Football, Fink points out. That's nearly five months of prime TV, and it almost always ends so late that it pushes the local news at 11 p.m. back to midnight. Letterman might not have made it on air until 12:30 or more after the local news. His ratings would have plummeted.
Now that he's set back on CBS for an obscene amount of money, Letterman can survey the damage he did at ABC News. Of course, it wasn't his fault that ABC News president David Westin never mentioned his Letterman negotiations to Ted Koppel. But now the news division's been fully compromised. Look for CNN — our Fox News competitor and a network with bucks looking to make a comeback — to take advantage of ABC News's low morale.