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Jeremy Piven's sushi defense holds water, arbitrator says

August 27, 2009 |  2:54 pm

Piven

An arbitrator has found nothing fishy about Jeremy Piven's reason for why he abruptly departed the Broadway revival of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow" last season.

Earlier today, Actors' Equity Assn. said an arbitrator has ruled that Piven didn't violate his contract when he prematurely left the stage production in December, according to reports.

The actor had claimed elevated levels of mercury in his blood, possibly the result of eating too much sushi and other fish, as the reason for his departure. Producers for the show filed a grievance with Actors' Equity, which resulted in a deadlock decision and no penalty for the actor. The dispute then moved to arbitration.

In a statement issued today, the producers for "Speed-the-Plow" said: "While we respect the decision,

we strongly disagree with it."

Piven played the role of Hollywood studio executive Bobby Gould in the Mamet play. A version of the production is scheduled to open at L.A.'s Mark Taper Forum next season with the same director, Neil Pepe.

After Piven left the New York production, he was replaced by a series of actors including William H. Macy, Norbert Leo Butz and Jordan Lage.

In response to Piven's mercury defense, Mamet told journalists last year: "My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer."

Piven responded to the playwright's jab in an interview with Time magazine: "David is a brilliant writer and will continue to be for a very long time, and is someone I’ve been a fan of for many, many years. And this was one of the great joys of my life: to be on Broadway and to do his words. And it’s a very funny line; you would expect nothing less from David Mamet."

Piven is best known for his role as Ari Gold in the HBO series "Entourage." His new movie "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard" opened earlier this month in theaters.

-- David Ng

Photo: Jeremy Piven. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

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