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‘Jury’ smokes out bow

Fleder-helmed Grisham pic trades tobacco for guns

Though a John Grisham novel with the title “Runaway Jury” would seem to scream “courtroom melodrama,” director Gary Fleder sees his pic as a heist movie.

“It’s who’s going to steal the jury,” Fleder said at the Les Deux Cafes after-party.

The helmer said the Grisham novel laid the groundwork but the book’s wicked villain — tobacco — had to be swapped for firearms.

The reason for the change was obvious, said exec producer Jeffrey Downer.

” ‘The Insider’ has been done. You can’t beat ‘The Insider.’ ”

And though the pic does its best to vex the wicked, New Regency’s Sanford Panitch said the key was to “stay away from being a soapbox. Just because this is about something doesn’t mean it has to feel like school.”

Among those deliberating were Fox’s Tom Rothman, Pam Levine and Jeffrey Godsick; New Regency’s David Matalon; producer Christopher Mankiewicz; stars John Cusack, Rachel Weisz and Dustin Hoffman; plus guests including Rebecca De Mornay, Beth Swofford, David Colden, Shannon Elizabeth and Tate Donovan.

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