« Previous | Culture Monster Home | Next »

Jeremy Piven finally speaks out on his mercury poisoning

January 15, 2009 |  7:09 am

Jeremy_piven_at_the_golden_globes Broadway's "Speed-the-Plow" dropout Jeremy Piven appeared on "Good Morning America" today to offer up his side of the sushi saga.

You'll recall that the "Entourage" star was in the middle of his well-reviewed run of the David Mamet Hollywood-themed play when he abruptly dropped out, citing high levels of mercury.

He immediately came under attack, with the playwright famously calling him "a thermometer."

"I wanted to come out here and say the truth," said Piven, adding that he had been suffering symptoms of the poisoning since the second week of rehearsals for the play.

But the show must go on. 

"This was my finest moment; this is what I had been working for my whole life," he told Diane Sawyer.

"The last thing I ever thought about doing was not completing this run," he said of the play, which is scheduled to close Feb. 22. "I've never not completed anything in my life. ... My intention was to finish this thing."

Truth? Or a performance worthy of a Tony Award? You decide: The video is here.

-- Lisa Fung

Photo: A healthy-looking Jeremy Piven at the Golden Globes on Sunday. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (21)

I think joking about a medical condition is in poor taste. I don't hear these people making fun of people with broken bones or breast cancer, why is it okay to ridicule someone suffering toxic effects of mercury?

He's a chump. I don't believe his story.

Are you kidding me? Jeremy Piven should get an award for his performance on Good Morning America. As someone behind the scenes of “Speed the Plow” a day didn't go by without him complaining about the gig and struggling with the producers to get out of his contract early. I personally saw his late night skirt chasing at One Oak and several other NYC hot spots. His public relations person coached him well on how to spin this childish temper tantrum called “Mercury Poisoning.” I am sure we will see his face show up on some type of public service announcement warning American’s about heavy metals in seafood

Please. No one in NYC believes his story.
Especially since the night his doctor supposedly diagnosed him, he was seen out at a night club when he should have been onstage. The NY post has the photos.

Yeah, definitely suffering the effects of mercury poisoning, alright.
Sounds like he was in over his head.
Mamet can do that to an actor.
Especially a weak one like Piven.

If the show was anything like the last David Mamut play I attended I would have dropped out too. Hey David, you owe me $67.00 and the cast wants their dignity back. Smart move Jeremy. David Mamut is the most over-rated playwright this century.

David Mamet is hilarious, "get a job as a thermometer." Absolutely funny, and yes some people do laugh at disaster.

Jane M. Hightower, MD has just written a book on the subject, "Diagnosis: Mercury, Money, Politics & Poison." Jeremy should add his name to her patient list who have the same symptoms. This book is a well documented expose about the history and ignorance of the subject. When I was a child before antibiotics were common, Mercurichrome was the treatment for cuts as an antiseptic. Now one has to call haz-mat for disposal.

I saw the same performance from Jeromy Pivon on Entorage when Ari was begging Vincent not to fire him as his agent. Bravo Pivon...bra-vo

I hear that on a hot day, Piven is an inch taller!!

Producers put up a lot of money to stage "Speed the Plow." Piven's co-stars were left in the lurch when the Tabloid Fixture Party Boy realized being onstage a couple of hours a night was too much work for him. There are plenty of actors more talented than he is, it's time to start hiring performers for the quality of their work and their WORK ETHIC rather than their name recognition.

Didn't Mamet say he should get a job as a rectal thermometer?

... and the oscar goes to... Jeremy Piven for lead actor in a huge science fiction/ fantasy dance number

I had Mercury poisoning from a tooth filling. Some people are very sensitive to Mercury. In fact it is one of the substances that parents are told to make sure kids do not contact. This is why women are told to eat fish during pregnancy that is very low in Mercury. Mercury poisoning is very dangerous. It can lead to complications that lead to death. In my case I had a severe b12 deficiency which was made aggravated by high Mercury particles in my system. Mercury attaches to b12 and keeps it from entering the digestive track and blood. This is a form of Anemia which causes, neurological damage, severe exhaustion, low immunity, numbness in the limbs, heart palpitations, irregular heart, heart attack due to high homocystine levels, depression, mental instability etc. Mercury poisoning causes reproductive problems and bleeding disorders in women too. Mercury poisoning is really serious if it happens to you. I can't believe how sick I was. If you doubt that Mercury poisoning is real, google it and read the medical literature from places like the Mayo Clinic.

Why is this news? It's hard to believe people concern themselves with such nonsense.

No one doubts that Mercury Poisoning is real nor that it can have dangerous consequences. The question is whether this "actor" has truly contracted mercury poisoning as he claims to have.

I have lived in Manhattan all my live. Raw tuna is one of my favorite foods, whether its in sushi, seared, or tartar. I have been eating large quantities of it for many years and I have never had any symptoms that would even closely resemble mercury poisoning. Therefore I find it hard to believe that Jeremy Piven was able to contract such an ailment solely from "too much New York sushi."

I think its a complete and udder fabrication. What's worse is that his insistence that he contracted mercury poisoning from tuna will only hurt NYC restaurateurs and make people paranoid about eating seafood.

One of the deepest injuries that result from mercury poisoning is the abandonment of social support. This deadly poison is so frightening and can manifest in strange ways in sensitive people that it causes the rest of the social world to back off in either denial or abuse or abandonment. Society would rather claim anything to be the cause of this terrible poison than the poison itself. I had mercury poisoning and I was turned out of my home, my church, all my social support removed itself. I was accused of sin, of being a "not nice" person, a liar, a hypochondriac, a trouble maker, a psychiatric case. Yes in fact. All of that is true. I sinned when I allowed an evil poison into my body. Yes I am not nice because I am polluted. Yes when I hallucinate it is a kind of a lie. Yes when I fear that I going to be sick forever it is an amplification of my pain, yes I am the one with the trouble so that makes me the agent of trouble, yes the poison affects the neurological constructs of the brain. So what? what is your brilliant point? The stupidest thing in the world is that when someone has fallen due to living in society that puts mercury into the teeth of children and into the oceans and through no act of their own then everyone else becomes the victim. Grow up!

Mercury poisoning from eating seafood is very real! I am a 36 year old female who has been fighting mercury poisoning for a year and a half. It has been agonizing, lonely and scary. I thought I had a brain tumor because of the extent of nuerological symptoms that I was experiencing. In an effort to discover what was causing my symptoms I also asked that my mercury levels be tested. I had another motivation for this request as well, my husband and I wanted to have another baby. I knew I had been eating more seafood than I ever had and I knew enough from different articles that I had read over the years and from different news cast that I should investigate such a possibility. Sure enough I had very elevated levels! I have had to spend so much money in an effort to get better because just like society stupidly doesn't believe this is a real condotion neither do insurance companies. I had to quite my job. A job that I had spent 8 years trying to find. Very disheartening! However, I am continuing to revcover and am certainly feeling better. I pitty the ignorant because I feel more grounded than ever now and more compassionate for anyone who has any sort of ailment, commom or not. I have certianly felt very alone at times during this journey but overall I have a good support group of family and friends. I hope that Jeremy has that cirlce around him as well!!! My heart goes out to him on so many levels.

I find it appalling that people are joking about this situation. It further demonstrates to me just how ignorant the American public can be. I find it disgusting that people deny a condition they are onbviously unaware is a widespread epidemic in this country. It has been known for a very long time the A) mercury is the most toxic non-radioactive substance B) it IS foudn in seafood C) the symtpons very form person to person D) there are over 100 symptons and diseases linked...this inofrmation is based on facts from PhD scientists with peer-reviewed studies. Misinforming the public is a tool to quell the controvery over the numerous consumer products with this known toxin. Besides, we need environmental diseases like Alzheimer's and Autism (both clearly linked to mercury) so we can line the pharmaceutical industry's pocket with more money by maintaining diseases rather than prevention and cures. What has been cured in decades? Not much.

Yes it sounds bad, but he is one of the few actors that I think actually have the passion for acting and not just do it as a job. Even if he was having trouble with his staff he would be the type of person to challenge their thoughts and make an even better movie than it was supposed to be. He can fit any part easy

I commend all who spoke up about mercury poisoning. I too have lived through that nightmare for several months. Even my doctor thought I was crazy. It's real. Not something people should make light of or joke about. the neurological effects were extremely frightening and there were times when it was unbearable.

1 2 | »


Recommended on Facebook

In Case You Missed It...


Explore the arts: See our interactive venue graphics


Tweets and retweets from L.A. Times staff writers.