I should warn you that the Shuffle giveaways don’t always go as planned. True story. One night I was having dinner at a place up in the city, in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, with Brad Grey of Paramount. He’s kind of a small guy, and he’s extremely pleasant, very polite and soft-spoken, but I’d always heard about how he came up the hard way, started out by booking bands in Buffalo or something, and supposedly he was this true hard case. Yet I’d never seen that side of him. So anyway. We leave dinner and we’re walking to our car and we get approached by this very aggressive homeless guy. Hayes Valley is crawling with them and as you know if you’ve been to San Francisco these guys can be extremely in-your-face. Brad tenses up but I’m like, Hey, no worries, let me handle this. I whip out a Shuffle and give it to the guy. Usually they just fall speechless and start being all grateful and stuff. Not this guy. He goes, Hey man, what’m I sposedta do with this thing? I try to explain what it is and he goes, Hell, dumb-ass, I know what it is, but maybe you don’t understand. Can I smoke this thing? Will it get me high? No. It will not. Now I need some crack, okay? I need to smoke some goddamn crack, right now. So gimme some goddamn green cash money so I can buy some goddamn crack.
So we just keep walking, and I’m trying to tell him to just listen to the Shuffle, he’ll enjoy it, it’s worth a lot of money, maybe he could sell it, and so on. Guy keeps after us, walking right beside us, not actually touching us but getting pretty close. He starts working on Brad, trying to be funny, saying, Hey man, tell your friend not to be so cheap, man, tell your buddy give me some money. Brad says nothing and won’t even look at the guy or acknowledge him, which of course only gets the guy more pissed off. Finally we get to my car and the guy is still following us and giving us shit, saying stuff like, Hey, nice car, you must got some money right, so why not gimme some change, man, or better yet, gimme twenny bucks so I can go buy a rock man, come on, man, don’t be a dick, dude, gimme a twenny so I can go get some crack. Then, out of nowhere, the guy produces a pocket knife. Not a big one, but a knife nonetheless. And I realize, it’s midnight, we’re off in a parking lot with no one around, it’s dark, and we’re all alone with this psycho, who’s waving a knife at me and getting nasty.
At this point Brad just calmly walks around the front of the car to my side, and without saying a word he steps up to the guy and does this little karate-type move, like whack-whack-whack, so fast I can’t even see what he’s doing. All in one move he knocks the knife out of the guy’s hand, spins him around, snaps his neck, and drops him. Bam. He’s down, and he’s not getting up.Brad says, Get in the car. Don’t think. Just get in the car. Let’s go.
So we drive off, saying nothing. Once we’re out on Van Ness he says, in this tight voice, Hey Steve, that never happened, right? And I’m like, Yeah, well, jeez, Brad, you know, what if someone saw us or called the cops or what if someone knows the guy and they go looking for him or whatever, maybe we should just call the cops and tell them what happened or whatever, I mean the guy came at us, so it was self-defense, right? Wasn’t it?
Brad cuts me off and goes, Hey. Look. Do we have a problem here? Do we? Cause if we do, I gotta know that right now, okay?
He waits. I say nothing.
He goes, All right, I’m gonna ask you again. That never happened, right?
And I’m like, I don’t even know what you’re talking about.
He goes, Good. Very good. Okay. Well, that was a very nice restaurant, Steve. Great recommendation. I shouldn’t have had dessert though. I’m gonna regret that tomorrow on the treadmill, right? Well anyway. Thank you for an enjoyable evening. And I’m really looking forward to doing business together.
Lot of people wondered why Sumner Redstone fired everyone else but not Brad Grey. I didn’t. Problem is, these are the guys we have to deal with if we want to put movies on iTunes. Maybe now you understand why it’s taking us a little longer than expected.