Independent artibration sought in 'Plow' case

Get ready for the next round in Producers vs. Piven.

The producers of the Broadway revival of “Speed-the-Plow” have opted to pursue independent arbitration in the dispute over Jeremy Piven’s abrupt exit from “Plow” earlier this season.

The matter was considered Thursday by a grievance committee made up of five producers and five Actors’ Equity members, in keeping with the labor agreement between thesp union Equity and the Broadway League, the trade association of legit producers and presenters.

Because a unanimous decision could not be reached by the committee, none was handed down.

“We will be filing for arbitration as provided by our contract,” the “Plow” producers said in a brief statement Friday. They didn’t say when they would file.

A rep for Piven said she had not received notification that the producers had initiated any proceedings.

“If they do so, we are confident that the producers will not prevail in arbitration, just as they did not prevail in the grievance proceeding they initiated,” she said.

The disagreement stems from Piven’s sudden departure in December from the successful revival of “Speed-the-Plow” that the thesp blamed on health issues arising from elevated mercury levels in his body. Although the recoupment sked for the show initially seemed threatened by the cast disruption, the production made it into the black by the time it ended its limited engagement as scheduled on Feb. 22. (Thesps Norbert Leo Butz and William H. Macy each did a stint in the role vacated by Piven.)

The production contract between Equity and the league lists nine individual arbitrators, all members of the American Arbitration Assn., who have been agreed upon by both parties.

Once both sides have been officially notified in writing of the producers’ intention to seek arbitration, one of the nine will be selected jointly by Equity and the league by the end of the business day following notification.

The hearing will then be scheduled within the following 60 days.

There has so far been no indication what sort of monetary damages, if any, are sought by the “Speed-the-Plow” producers, who include lead producer Jeffrey Richards.

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