Jeremy Piven Drives a Stake Through the Heart of Broadway


While omens of the forthcoming Broadwaypocalypse have been dragging us down for months, the recent revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow was the one play that seemingly had everything going for it: some strong reviews, a healthy marketing budget (we always see commercials for the show during SNL), an endorsement from David Mamet (something he failed to give American Buffalo), and a cast of accomplished actors. All of which translated into strong sales for the show, reportedly in the neighborhood of $500,000 a week since the show's October debut. However, all that positive momentum was halted when self-proclaimed master thespian Jeremy Piven abruptly bolted from the play last night due to, get this, very high levels of mercury in his blood. We suppose that's a more plausible excuse than "the dog ate my homework," but not by much. So what happened?

Well, it seems that Piven hadn't exactly been on his A-game of late. Not only had he been making a habit of showing up only minutes before curtain, but during a matinee performance of the show on Saturday, he temporarily disrupted the play to impatiently stare at his watch (while tapping his feet!) when a few theatergoers arrived to their seats late. Then he failed to show up for Tuesday and Wednesday's performances, which led to his being diagnosed by himself a team of doctors with that mysterious mercury ailment. All of which prompted David Mamet to issue this instantly classic dis to Variety:

UPDATE, 11:47 a.m.: William H. Macy to the Rescue!

That's so Mamet of him, isn't it? The only thing it's missing is an F-bomb. Anyway, the show will go on with Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz serving as a temporary replacement. We have no doubts that NLB can act circles around the irascible Piven, but we're not sure he's got the name recognition to put butts in the Barrymore Theater seats (producers have already had to issue $20,000 in refunds to perturbed theatergoers). To that end, does anyone know if either Kevin Spacey or Jeff Goldblum has any plans for the next eight weeks or so?

UPDATE, 11:47 a.m.: William H. Macy to the Rescue!

Piven speeds away from 'Plow' play [Variety]