February 28, 2009
Jeremy Piven might still have to reap what he sowed for dropping out of Speed-the-Plow.
The producers of the Broadway revival, who filed a grievance against the actor when he left the production early, citing a case of mercury poisoning, are planning to file for arbitration after their claim was denied by the Actors' Equity Union.
At a hearing Thursday, a 10-member grievance committee comprised of five AEU members and five members of the Broadway League could not reach the necessary unanimous decision on Piven's fate and advised the Plow team of its rights to pursue arbitration.
So be it.
"The grievance went as expected yesterday," the producers said in a statement Friday. "The grievance committee did not rule for either side and we will be filing for arbitration as provided by our contract."
Per AEU procedure, an arbitration hearing will be held within 30 days of the filing, presided over by one of nine individuals acceptable to the union and the league. A decision will be issued within 30 days of the hearing.
Meanwhile, Piven is finally speaking out about the condition that forced him to give up the "the holy grail" of acting.
"The biggest misconception was that this all came out of the blue in December and that I came down with this 'sushi-gate' stuff," Piven tearfully told the New York Times after yesterday's hearing.
"It's not sushi, it's from eating fish for 20 years and not understanding the mercury threat."
While playing a loutish studio exec in the revival of David Mamet's 1988 play, Piven would immediately go home to bed after every performance and, after the Sunday evening shows, he would stay in bed until the curtain went up again on Tuesday nights.
"At times I was incapable of getting enough oxygen to get my lines out on stage, and sometimes I'd forget where I was in the play," he said. "This misconception that I was out partying was wrong. My problem was that as soon as I woke up, I wanted to figure out a way to get back into bed."
"This is the holy grail for any actor," Piven said when asked whether he'd like to work on Broadway again. "I kind of can't wait to do it again. And I hope to."