Jeremy Piven leaves Speed-the-Plow...WTF?!

mercury_thermometer11Maybe the impendingBroadway Armageddon of January 4 has Jeremy Piven scared. (Nine shows are closing that day, and more the following Sunday. It's grim out there.) The flamboyant star of Entourage and, on stage, David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow has abruptly left the production. His reason? High levels of mercury.Hands down, this is the most bizarre excuse we've ever heard for leaving a show. Mamet told Daily Variety: "I talked to Jeremy on the phone and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury. So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer." Since Mamet is cracking wise, wemust assume that the medical situation is serious. That, or Mamet doesn't want to rock the Hollywood boat.

But wait a minute. Mercury, mercury... where have we seen that word recently? Oh, yeah, in TONY's capsule-review listing about Piven's devilishlygood costar, Raul Esparza: "Entourage's Jeremy Piven and Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss are more than ably assisted by the mercurial Ral Esparza." Just a coincidence, we're sure.

The show will go on, with replacement actors in the role of morally conflicted Hollywood fixer Bobby Gould. None have been announced yet. Get well soon, Jeremy! Broadway's not dying, it's just very, very sick.

UPDATE: Norbert Leo Butz and William H. Macy have stepped into the breach. Both will take on the role Piven vacated so hastily. Butz assumes the position December 23 through January 11. And then Macy takes over the plow January 13 through closing matinee, February 22. These two talented gents just gave us a couple reasons to revisit the show.