MERMAIDS star Cher is convinced that if co-star Winona Ryder had been convicted of drug offences rather than shoplifting she would have won public sympathy instead of disdain.

GIRL, INTERRUPTED star Ryder was charged with vandalism and grand theft in connection with the shoplifting charges dating from back to December 2001, and Cher - who co-starred with Ryder in the 1990 film - feels her actress pal wouldn't have been shunned so much if she had overdosed on narcotics.

The BELIEVE singer says, "I love her. She's great and talented. In Hollywood, if you do drugs or overdose on heroin and go to rehab, people think you're so cool.

"She just didn't commit the right crime."

04/12/2003 02:29