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.