Jeremy Piven, who plays mega-agent Ari Gold on Entourage, quit the Broadway revival of Speed the Plow in December due to “mercury poisoning” from his sushi-heavy diet. The producers of the show weren’t happy, and filed a request for arbitration to settle their dispute with the actor. The case, it was announced today, will now go to arbitration on June 8-9. Unfortunately, regardless of the outcome, the damage to Piven’s reputation has been done. Fairly or not, even if it is proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was stricken by too much Japanese cuisine, he now has a rep in Hollywood for being “difficult,” and that could lose him work.
Despite all the coddling actors get in Hollywood, they’re always being judged in the same way that all employees are: Are they worth the money they’re being paid, and do people like working with them? As such, a star like, say, Will Smith, could be a total monster on-set (he isn’t), and get away with it because his movies make hundreds of millions of dollars. The problem Piven faces is that he isn’t Will Smith. He’s not Christian Bale. He’s not even Russell Crowe. As fine an actor as he may be, he’s now at serious risk of falling onto the last Hollywood list you want to be on: LITS (“Life is Too Short.”) Nobody wants to work with a diva, period. The industry is full of comic actors dying for a part like Ari Gold, who dream of starring on Broadway in Speed in the Plow. If Piven doesn’t re-prove that he’s a reliable actor who fulfills his commitments, he may find himself giving all those guys the break they’ve been waiting for.