Actors' Equity to consider Broadway matter

Producers of the Broadway revival of “Speed-the-Plow” have filed a grievance with Actors’ Equity over Jeremy Piven’s sudden departure from the production.

No date has been set for any sort of proceeding. A grievance committee made up of reps of both Equity and the Broadway League will consider the matter within 30 days.

Piven left the well-reviewed revival of the 1988 David Mamet play last month, citing a medical condition attributed to a high mercury count.

He had been committed to appear in the show through late February.

The unexpected exit sent producers scrambling for a replacement.

Norbert Leo Butz filled the role over the holidays, with William H. Macy taking over last week.

It’s not yet clear whether producers have petitioned Equity in the hopes of monetary recompense from Piven. Lead producer Jeffrey Richards could not be reached for comment.

“The claims made by the producers of ‘Speed-the-Plow’ are absurd and outrageous,” said a Piven rep in a statement. “Mr. Piven’s serious medical condition has been well documented by multiple physicians.”

Boosted by strong notices, “Speed-the-Plow” became one of a handful of star-driven play revivals to post healthy box office this season. Many in the industry were skeptical of the medical reasons given for the departure of Piven, who had earned a rep among legit gossips as a nightlife lover.

The Equity committee is made up of as many as five Equity reps and up to five from the Broadway League, the trade association of Rialto producers. If the committee’s ruling on the situation is contested by either side, the matter will go on to an independent arbitrator.

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