Actors' Equity Association announced Aug. 27 the result of arbitration proceedings between the producers of the recent Broadway revival of Speed-the-Plow and Piven—who bolted from the hit show, in which he headlined, citing high levels of mercury in his blood, owing to many years of consuming fish: Piven was cleared.
An AEA statement says, "The decision acknowledges that Mr. Piven did not breach his individual employment contract nor did he breach the Equity-League collective bargaining contract."
The producers of Speed-the-Plow also released an Aug. 27 statement, which reads, "While we respect the decision, we strongly disagree with it."
"Entourage" star Piven said in his own statement, "I'm pleased with the outcome of the arbitration and to be completely vindicated in this matter based on the facts and the medical evidence." (Whether he is "completely vindicated," is, of course, a matter of some argument.)
Arbitrator George Nicolau said there was "sufficient evidence to establish that Piven's decision was a reasonable one; that it was reasonably based, and that the contrary evidence is insufficient." Next time I leave work suddenly and call my boss to let him know on the way to the airport, I'm going to ask Mr. Nicholau to speak on my behalf. ***
Speaking of actor illnesses, it's not exactly mercury poisoning, but it is unusual: Parker Posey withdrew from the cast of This, a new play by Obie Award winner Melissa James Gibson, due to developing a case of Lyme Disease, the theatre announced on Aug. 26. A replacement actress for the lead role of Jane will be announced shortly. Previews begin Nov. 6 for an opening of Dec. 2. The run ends Dec. 13.
Directed by Daniel Aukin, the world-premiere production will play Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theater. The cast continues to feature Eisa Davis, Glenn Fitzgerald and Louis Cancelmi.
What next? Restless Leg Syndrome?
Tony Award winner Barbara Cook, who hasn't appeared in a Broadway musical in over 30 years, may be heading back to the stage later this season.
The New York Post reports that Cook will likely be part of the Roundabout Theatre Company's upcoming production of iSondheim, the Stephen Sondheim revue that had been scheduled to make its world premiere at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in April. Tony winner James Lapine will direct. Roundabout has made no official announcement about the production or casting.
Kerry Butler, who received a Tony nomination for her performance in Xanadu, and thus knows her way around pop culture kitsch, will be the very apt new member of the cast of Broadway's Rock of Ages. She will start Sept. 21 for a sixth-month engagement.
Butler will play six performances a week in the role of Sherrie, the part created by Amy Spanger. The role's understudy will play the part for both Sunday performances.
Busker Alley can not catch a break.
Producers Margot Astrachan, Robert R. Blume, Heather Duke, Joanna Kerry, Kristine Lewis and Jamie Fox have withdrawn from the previously announced Broadway-aimed production of the ill-starred musical, which was to have starred Jim Dale and directed by Tony Walton. (That's a lot of people to withdraw at once. I hope they exited single file.)
It was in November 2007 when producers announced that Busker Alley had been resurrected. The show was scheduled to arrive on Broadway in 1995 before star Tommy Tune broke his foot. Now, a decade later, it was gearing up for another stab at Broadway.
In a collective statement released Aug. 25, 2009, producers stated, "Due to the loss of one member of the writing team and the health issues of another, it is with great regret that we withdraw from this project. We will be returning all of the money to our investors and release all of our sponsors from their obligations."