December 18, 2008 / 11:08 PM / 10 years ago

Actor exits Broadway show citing mercury from sushi

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Jeremy Piven has abruptly left the cast of the hit Broadway revival of David Mamet’s play “Speed-the-Plow” because of a high mercury count — possibly caused by eating too much sushi.

Actor Jeremy Piven attends the premiere of the fifth season of "Entourage" presented by HBO at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York September 3, 2008. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Producers of the play said on Thursday that Emmy winner William H. Macy, who has a long association with Mamet, and Tony award winner Norbert Leo Butz, will take over the role of a foul-mouthed studio executive.

Piven, best known as a star of the TV show “Entourage”, had been expected to continue in the play until late February.

Citing doctor’s advice, Piven, 43, ended his run on Wednesday after missing two performances this week.

Mamet expressed skepticism at the unusual diagnosis.

“I talked to Jeremy on the phone, and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury,” Mamet told newspaper Daily Variety. “So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.”

But Dr Carlon Colker, who has been treating Piven, told the celebrity television show Entertainment Tonight the actor had six times the healthy amount of mercury in his system.

Colker said Piven was an “avid sushi eater” who regularly had sushi twice a day, and he had also been taking Chinese herbs, which he said could have led to the problem.

The co-owner of the holistically-based Peak Wellness clinic, Colker said Piven complained of dizziness and fatigue and had difficulty lifting his limbs. Doctors ordered him to rest.

Piven is best known for his Emmy-winning role as brash Hollywood agent Ari Gold in HBO’s hipster comedy “Entourage.”

Broadway producer Jeffrey Richards said Butz, who starred in “Wicked” and won a Tony award for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, will step into Piven’s Broadway role from December 23-January 11. Macy, who starred in Mamet’s “American Buffalo” on Broadway and appeared in the movie “Seabiscuit”, will take over on January 13 until the play’s scheduled close on February 22.

Reporting by Dean Goodman and Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte and David Storey

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