Jeremy Piven is back in town to defend his having bailed last winter on the Broadway revival of “Speed-the-Plow” claiming mercury poisoning, an excuse that even the “Entourage” star acknowledges sounds like a stretch.
“You know, it sounds like some crazy rich-man’s disease,” he admits in the current issue of Michigan Avenue magazine.
The Emmy winner told the magazine that he’s been eating fish twice a day for 20 years, a health measure that backfired on him, and made reference to an Obama Administration report that he says calls mercury toxicity “the number one chemical problem in the world.”
Producers of the show are seeking compensation for what they claim are the massive losses they suffered when Piven quit the show, sending ticket sales plummeting. They dismiss his mercury alibi from a lifetime of eating sushi as just another fish tale.
During the original hearings in February, “Speed” producers argued that Piven had been calling around asking friends to replace him, complained of being bored out of his mind and presented limousine records that dispute his claim that most nights he was so tired after the show that he simply went home to sleep. Producers plan to show that the notorious party boy didn't let his so-called affliction hamper his nightlife.
The arbiter for the new hearings has 30 days to make a decision, reports Entertainment Weekly.
Shortly after Piven left in December, playwright David Mamet quipped that it was his understanding that the Emmy-winning, mercury-weakened actor had decided to pursue a career "as a thermometer."
Many Broadway actors resent Hollywood stars for taking their jobs and Piven's co-star, Raul Esparza was reportedly very open in his glee over the departure.
"I'm sure you've read the headlines about the silliness in our show. Today was the first time I really enjoyed playing this show. I hope you weren't expecting a big TV star," Esparza said following the first performance after Piven's exit.