At around 8, 8:30 PM last night, I heard a faint knock on the door. After putting my pants back on, I opened it. There was this guy in a suit who said hello and offered his hand for a shake. I refused it, asked what he wanted, and figured he was a Jehovah’s Witness.
I was wrong. He told me had a subpoena for me, and I was like, um, what? He wanted to hand it over to me, but I didn’t take it, thinking that once I did, he could then split without any explanation. So I asked him what this was all about and looked at the document while still in his hand. It took me around five minutes to realize this was all on the level. It was the Harvey Weinstein case, and for some bizarre reason I was somehow involved in it.
The subpoena instructed me to go to court the following morning and submit a video of a particular Letterman interview. When I came to the broadcast date it required me to provide, I assumed it was the prosecution that wanted the Gwyneth Paltrow clip I had uploaded in October 2017, when the Weinstein news went full throttle. I didn’t inspect the date closely enough — 1997; I forgot that the Paltrow interview was in ’98 — I just assumed that’s what this was about. Also, the subpoena said “Late Night with David Letterman,” so I knew they weren’t in full command of his career. Later I briefly explained the history to both Subpoena Man and the lead attorney, who was on speaker phone.
The guy, a private detective hired here as a process server, told me that I had put the clip up on YouTube but then had taken it down, and they needed the full interview. I said sure, but as far as I knew that clip was still up. So there was some confusion about that.
He also said that I wouldn’t have to go to court if I could get him what he wanted right then and there. So I said yes, let’s do that.
I asked him why they hadn’t asked (or subpoena’d) Worldwide Pants for the video, since it was their content. He told me that they first contacted CBS, who then directed them to Pants. He then said that there was no time to get the show from Pants, as they needed it for court the next day. So they turned to me.
I invited him inside, which was of course a mess. He was taken aback what was in here — the tapes, the equipment, the “stuff.” He called it a museum. I called it a fire trap. We went into the earth station, where I showed him the status of the Paltrow video, that it was still up. He acknowledged that it was and, with my ok, took a photo of the screen. So he was as confused as I was.
Then he told me which interview he needed, and it wasn’t Paltrow; it was Annabella Sciorra. And he wasn’t with the prosecution, he was with the defense. Yikes. That lead attorney on the phone was Donna Rotunno. That changed everything. (I watched an clip of her in the Variety site today. Yep, that was her voice.)
Anyway. they had assumed I had put the Sciorra interview up on YouTube but then had taken it down. I told him that was someone else’s upload, not mine.
He then said the defense team had found me from the 2017 NY Times profile. He seemed quite impressed with the video- and audio-digitizing setup and the ease at which I could find on the computer what he wanted. He turned around and saw a Charlie Parker CD set and marveled at that. So he was a nice guy doing a job he was hired to do. His business is situated in Chicago. He ended up showing me a photo of a music group he was in with his wife, who he said would love what I was doing. So none of this was in any way confrontational. Just at first confusing and suspicious, and then I did what I was required to do, even though it was for Weinstein’s defense. That felt creepy, but I had no option other than to comply.
So I found the show, extracted the interview, and sent it to him via wetransfer. We waited for him to receive the email from the site that there was a file to download. He began downloading it on his phone but it was taking too long. He said would download it on his computer when he returned to his hotel. And then he’d email me to verify he had it and would then state, in writing, that I had complied with the subpoena and was no longer required to go to court. That finally happened after 11.
I asked him about the size of the defense team. He said there were 6 attorneys (we chatted with Donna several times last night). He said the prosecution had at least twice that. So I figured they were strapped for resources and thus the last-minute subpoena for the video.
His email was taking a long time to show up, so I called him (earlier he had given me his card). Talked to someone else, maybe his wife in Chicago. He returned my call just as his email arrived. I asked him how much I could share about this publicly. He said that while he and the attorneys were under a gag order, I wasn’t, so I could talk about whatever I wanted. Thus this blog post.
I then asked him what if I weren’t home when he knocked on my door. Would he have left the subpoena by the door, or was he required to hand it to me in person? He said that it sounds extreme, but he would have had to put a surveillance team on me, waiting outside the building until I showed up. I then asked what if hadn’t heard him knocking, that I was home all the time, and his team would be waiting outside for nothing. He didn’t really have an answer for that, other than nothing’s perfect, these things happen.
I forgot to ask how he even got into the building. Maybe a neighbor let him in, who knows.
As we ended the call he hoped we’d meet up again under friendlier circumstances. We both knew that would most likely never happen, but he was just being nice. He really liked what I was doing with whatever it is I’m doing.
Postscript: While I was waiting for his email last night, I watched the Annabella Sciorra interview with Dave and now understood why the defense wanted it. She testified this morning for the prosecution (google the news for that) and this afternoon is being cross-examined, where, I suspect, the defense will play a portion of the interview where she tells Dave she lies a lot. There’s lots of context missing here, but that’s what they’ll focus on. So they wanted the video to attack her credibility. I feel awful helping them do that, but being in contempt of court isn’t on my to-do list today.
Update. The defense did indeed play the video. I put up the complete interview here so that folks can see for themselves the full context of what the defense selected to challenge her credibility:
The only decent thing I did last night was refuse Subpoena Man’s offer to compensate me for my services; this was before he told me he was working for the defense. So I have a clear conscious about that. Still, what I was legally compelled to do will haunt me for a long time. I hope Sciorra’s testimony prevails.