Remember over the summer when Jeremy Piven was the punch line of every sushi-related joke?
After Piven dropped out of Broadway’s Speed the Plow due to mercury poisoning, the producers claimed that Piven just wanted out and had breached his contract.
In August an arbitrator fully exonerated Piven.
That news went fairly under the radar – a private arbitrator’s ruling is just not as fun as salmon speculation and tales of Piven’s partying. However, The New York Times provided us today with the previously confidential full decision, and the arbitrator may be the most amusing decider since Judge Rakoff.
Arbitrator George Nicolau seems to have nothing but love for the man who plays Ari Gold. And he definitely enjoyed writing this one, describing the arbitration testimony as a “tale of two very different plays.”
The first play features an actor that is a “malinger” intent on abandoning the play and who used a doctor’s note to explain tiredness that was really a result of his “flashy” late nights. The second is the actor’s story that he is seeing a doctor constantly and that his complaints are ignored by the play’s management until he is eventually instructed by his physician to “stop before it’s too late.”
Like Broadway itself the decision is full of drama — three days and more than 1400 pages of testimony, which included management emails doubting Piven’s claims he stayed in bed from Sunday until Tuesday since he was seen at an Entourage party on a Monday. One email also reflects a producer “sarcastically” noting he was aware of Piven’s “mono/Epstein-Barr and exhaustion” and that he hoped a report that Piven attended Britney’s Spears’s birthday party was just to “psyche him up” for his performances.
The testimony, which detailed Piven’s endless doctor visits, also included a story of producer telling Piven’s doctor he would not send the play’s doctor to examine Piven in the hospital because the doctor was too busy examining other Speed the Plow worker’s due to Piven’s “infectious” mono. (His mono, apparently, was not infectious.)
Despite the Broadway snark, the arbitrator was fully on Piven’s side, dismissing their tales of his late nights both by examining what they were for (mostly job-related events) and also noting that it’s not unexpected for someone who ends their workday after 10 to be out until after midnight.
“It does not take expert testimony for one to be aware that actors regularly eat a main meal after a performance and that, like all of us, take a bit of time to unwind. Those conversant with the theatre know this well,” Nicolau wrote.
Piven is probably thrilled this opinion has been made public, as the arbitrator makes him seem like whatever the Broadway equivalent of a choir boy is – he was “giving it his all” every night, despite his illness and who ultimately, though reluctantly listened to his physicians instead of accommodations that came too late.
Someone’s getting an invite to the next Entourage premiere party!
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