Jeremy Piven Too Sick to Act

Actor suffering from high levels of mercury

Two actors -- Norbert Leo Butz and William H. Macy -- will replace Jeremy Piven who has unexpectedly left the cast of the hit Broadway revival of "Speed-the-Plow," producer Jeffrey Richards announced Thursday.

Piven, star of HBO's "Entourage," abruptly departed the critically praised production of Mamet's satiric comedy over the weekend, less than two months after the show opened.

"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,"' Richards and the show's other producers said in a statement. "Consequently, he has left the production 10 weeks early."

In an interview, Richards said Piven had collapsed Monday at his home and had been under the care of his doctor, Carlon Colker.

The doctor told Variety, the show business trade paper, the 43-year-old actor has been suffering from high levels of mercury.

He said the actor had been "a trooper and did everything he could to fight extreme fatigue, among other things, since the  condition was diagnosed."

Butz, a Tony winner for his role in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," will play Piven's role Dec. 23-Jan. 11, while Macy, a veteran of many Mamet plays including "American Buffalo" and "Oleanna," takes over for the rest of the limited engagement, Jan. 13-Feb. 22.

"These are our white knights," Richards said. "It's about coming and helping a play that has lost a star. We are very fortunate to have two great actors to do the show."

Richards said Piven had not missed any performances until Tuesday.

Piven's spokeswoman, Samantha Mast, could not be reached for comment.



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