Piven leaves "Speed-the-Plow," blames mercury count

Jeremy Piven holds his award for outstanding supporting actor for his role in "Entourage'' as he arrives at the Governor's Ball following the 60th annual Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 21, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Jeremy Piven has abruptly left the hit Broadway revival of David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow,” blaming a high mercury count, Daily Variety reported in its Thursday edition.

The Hollywood satire opened to strong reviews in October and Piven had been expected to perform his role as a foul-mouthed studio executive until late February.

But after missing Tuesday night’s performance and a Wednesday matinee, Piven took his doctors’ advice that he should end his run immediately because of a high mercury count, the paper quoted a spokeswoman for the actor as saying.

Mamet appeared to be skeptical.

“I talked to Jeremy on the phone, and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury,” Mamet told Daily Variety. “So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer.”

Piven, 43, is perhaps best known for his Emmy-winning supporting role as brash Hollywood agent Ari Gold in HBO’s hipster comedy “Entourage.”

Mamet said “some really great actors will be helping out and stepping in” but he declined to identify them.

Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by John O’Callaghan