Entertainment behind the scenes
New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley has gone back to Broadway to see “Speed-the-Plow” now that its star Jeremy Piven has left the cast complaining of sushi-induced mercury poisoning, and in a piece on Tuesday pointed out the “blessings that have arrived with his departure.”
Brantley went on to say, “Mr. Piven’s absence has made me fonder of ‘Speed-the-Plow’ than I would ever have thought possible.”
Norbert Leo Butz replaced Piven, a star on the HBO show “Entourage,” from Dec. 23 through Jan. 11 and William H. Macy currently has the part, in the 1988 play from author David Mamet.
Brantley wrote that those two actors are not necessarily better than Piven. But he explains that seeing Butz and Macy in the part has allowed him to get a different view of the character Piven played, a chief of production at a Hollywood studio. And he says they have done a fine job picking up the pieces after Piven left. Brantley also said “Mad Men” star Elisabeth Moss and “Pushing Daisies” actor Raul Esparza have grown in their roles in “Speed-the-Plow” since he first saw them when Piven was part of the cast.
“That Mr. Piven hasn’t been part of that evolution is his loss,” Brantley wrote.
When Piven left the show last month, blaming mercury poisoning from too much sushi, Mamet responded by giving trade paper Daily Variety the biting line: “My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.”
Mamet was not the only skeptic. The Center for Consumer Freedom even said Piven would have to eat 108 pieces of tuna sushi role every week for his entire life to feel any new health risks from mercury.
Last week we brought you news that actor Jeremy Piven abruptly left his role in the Broadway production of “Speed the Plow” due to what he claimed was a high mercury count in his body.
A doctor who had treated Piven later told celebrity television show Entertainment Tonight that the actor had six times the healthy amount of mercury in his system. He said the actor was an “avid sushi eater” who had the raw fish twice a day, and that he also had been taking Chinese herbs which could have contributed to the problem.
If there’s one Hollywood rule that is nearly universal, it is that stars will almost always be late to anything – to dinners, to events, to interviews — and that even includes so-called “gifting lounges” where they get stuff free. Free!
Gifting lounges are nothing new at film festivals such TIFF, Sundance or Cannes or at big award shows (the value of past Oscar gift bags notoriously runs in the tens of thousands of dollars) but lately organizers have been doing more than just giving away items to create buzz around their venues. They look upon the lounges as “media hubs” where actors schedule press interviews, photo shoots and parties — not just as quick, down-and-dirty stops to grab free stuff.