By Andrew Gans
18 Dec 2008
As previously reported, Emmy Award winner Piven abruptly departed the acclaimed revival of Speed-the-Plow, citing high levels of mercury. Playwright Mamet told Daily Variety Dec. 17, "I talked to Jeremy on the phone and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury. So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer."
In a Dec. 18 statement the play's producers said, "We have been advised by Jeremy Piven's medical representatives that he is seriously ill and is unable to fulfill his contractual obligation to Speed-the-Plow. Consequently, he has left the production ten weeks early."
Butz, a Tony winner for his work in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, will assume the role of Bobby Gould Dec. 23 and play through Jan. 11, 2009. Stage and screen star Macy will play Gould Jan. 13-Feb. 22, 2009. Drama Desk Award winner Jordan Lage will play the role through Dec. 21. (Macy's wife, Emmy winner Felicity Huffman, succeeded Madonna in the role of Karen in the original Broadway production of Speed-the-Plow.)
|photo by Aubrey Reuben|
The producers added, "We are thrilled that Norbert Leo Butz and William H. Macy have joined the production, which stars the outstanding Raul Esparza and the luminous Elisabeth Moss who, under the brilliant direction of Neil Pepe, have received universal critical acclaim for their performances."
About Piven's condition, his physician, Dr. Carlon Colker, told Variety, "Jeremy has been a trooper, and did everything he could to fight extreme fatigue, among other things, since the condition was diagnosed. It was not his decision to step away from this play, it was mine. I think it was in the best interests of his health to do that. . . . The ideology is unclear, but his level of mercury was uncharacteristically high, one of the highest we’ve seen. We're not sure if this is from his diet, which is high in fish, or Chinese herbs, which he's been a fan of in the past, or a combination of both. He needs convalescence and rest and treatment, and this will clear his body and he will be back in action very soon. Again, it was not his decision, it was mine, along with a board certified cardiologist from Yale who I won't name, but who has 29 years of experience."
Norbert Leo Butz won Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Drama League Awards for his performance in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and has also been seen on Broadway in Is He Dead?, Wicked, Thou Shalt Not (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics nominations) and Rent. He was recently seen Off-Broadway in Fifty Words.
William H. Macy received an Oscar nomination for his performance in "Fargo." He also starred in the New York productions of David Mamet's Oleanna and American Buffalo. His screen credits also include "Benny & Joon," "Mr. Holland’s Opus," "Seabiscuit," "Magnolia," "Pleasantville," "Boogie Nights" and "Air Force One." In 2002 he won Emmy Awards for both Lead Actor in a Miniseries and Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries for the TV film "Door to Door."
"Speed-the-Plow focuses on two high-powered Hollywood executives, Charlie Fox and Bobby Gould, who have come up from the mailroom together," according to press notes. "Charlie brings Bobbie a surefire hit with a major star attached. Bobby seems certain to give the green light, until his beautiful new secretary gets involved."
Producers 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.