Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Actor Piven heads for mediation

Jeremy Piven
Piven said his illness meant he could not "get my lines out"

TV actor Jeremy Piven and producers of a Broadway play are going into arbitration talks to settle a dispute over his departure from the production.

The two sides will meet with a mediator in June to discuss the matter after it failed to be settled at a grievance hearing last month.

Entourage star Piven quit Speed-the-Plow in December, saying he was suffering from mercury poisoning.

The actor's claims led producers to file a complaint against him.

Both sides have said they are already preparing for talks, with producers stating they have "requested a wide range of relevant information from Mr Piven relating to his claims that an alleged illness required him to leave the show".

Target of jokes

Medical records and documentation relating to the actor's activities both during and after the run of the show would be also be asked for, they added.

Piven's spokeswoman Samantha Mast said: "The fact that the producers issued a statement announcing the arbitration dates suggests that this is part of a punitive strategy to intimidate actors so that they ignore serious health symptoms."

She added that fear of being sued would make it more difficult for performers to leave productions due to medical reasons.

Speed-the-Plow opened in October and closed last month with Piven's role of movie mogul having been taken over by other actors.

Piven, 43, who plays Ari Gold in Entourage, became the target of jokes after leaving the play.

Speed-the-Plow writer David Mamet even joked: "My understanding is that Jeremy is leaving showbusiness to pursue a career as a thermometer."

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