Actors' Equity and the producers of Speed-the-Plow agreed that the dispute regarding Piven's early exit from the Mamet show will be heard by Arbitrator George Nicolau in New York June 8 and 9.
The producers, according to a press statement, "are working on preparing their case, and in connection with that, have requested a wide range of relevant information from Mr. Piven relating to his claims that an alleged illness required him to leave the show. The information requested includes, among other things, medical records and documentation of Mr. Piven's activities both during and after the run of the show. The producers recognize that most of this information is of a highly sensitive nature and, therefore, they have proposed to the Union that all of the information that is turned over be subject to a strict confidentiality agreement."
Because a verdict was not reached during the Feb. 26 Actors' Equity Association grievance hearing concerning Piven's abrupt departure, producers of the play decided to seek arbitration.
A Feb. 27 statement released by the show's producers stated, "The grievance went as expected yesterday. The grievance committee (made up of League and Equity representatives) did not rule for either side and we will be filing for arbitration as provided by our contract."
Piven left the show citing high levels of mercury in his system. A spokeswoman for Piven previously told Variety that although the actor wanted to continue in the production, his doctors advised him against doing so. A joint statement from Actors' Equity and The Broadway League released the day of the grievance, Feb. 26, read, "A grievance hearing was held today in accordance with the Equity-League Production Contract regarding the matter of Jeremy Piven and Speed-the-Plow. Following the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, a panel of five League representatives and five Equity representatives met and heard the positions of the parties. The League and Equity representatives were unable to reach a unanimous decision. The Producers have the right, as a next step, to proceed to arbitration."
Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz succeeded Piven and played the part of Bobby Gould through Jan. 11. Academy Award nominee William H. Macy played the role opposite original stars Raul Esparza and Elisabeth Moss through the closing performance on Feb. 22.
Producers of Speed-the-Plow are Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, Steve Traxler, JK Productions, Ronald Frankel, Ostar Productions, Peggy Hill, Bat-Barry Productions, Ken Davenport, Scott Delman, Ergo Entertainment, Dede Harris, Alan D. Marks, Patty Ann McKinnon, Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Adam Sansiveri, Jamie deRoy and Carl Moellenberg.