Jeremy Piven Pullout Blamed on Bad Sushi; William H. Macy Rolls to Rescue

Entourage star's doc says actor's debilitating mercury levels were caused by fish; William H. Macy fills in on Broadway

By Gina Serpe, Whitney English Dec 18, 2008 9:08 PMTags
William H. Macy, Jeremy PivenDarby Shaw/, Steve Granitz/Getty Images

And you thought Jeremy Piven's excuse was fishy before...

A day after the actor abruptly announced his decision to pull out of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow on Broadway to pursue a career as a thermometer, E! News has now learned that Piven's diet is to blame for his apparently debilitatingly high levels of mercury.

"He was eating sushi twice a day and taking some Chinese herbs," Dr. Carlon Colker, Piven's physician and the executive officer and medical director of Peak Wellness, tells E! News. "I tested his heavy metals and his mercury was amazingly, shockingly high."

Felled by spicy tuna? Shakespeare never had this problem.

Colker said that Piven's mercury levels were roughly six times the amount an average body can handle. He made the diagnosis, as well as the play-exiting recommendation, after weeks of the Entourage star complaining of fatigue, with symptoms coming to a head this week.

The good doctor said the recently minted Golden Globe nominee experienced a dizzy spell and was unable to remember his lines, a one-two combo that apparently so worried the doc, he sent the actor to receive medical care.

"He was literally paralytic. He couldn't move after the shows."

Colker was quick to note that his recommendation to leave the play after two months, as well as Piven's decision, did not come about lightly.

"He is someone who has been acting for three decades, 17 hours a day. He's really been an iron horse, so this is unusual for him.

"He really wanted to tough this out. It's always been his dream to be on Broadway. But sometimes the risks outweigh the benefits."

The risks associated with mercury poisoning run the gamut from cardiac arrest, kidney failure, psychological problems and sometimes even death.

Piven was released from the hospital yesterday but has been ordered to significant bed rest. Colker said the actor should be back in top acting-chop form by February or early March—handily enough, around the time the new season of Entourage will begin filming.

And, lest Los Angeles hot spots fear the loss of a cherished patron, Piven will even be able to resume, albeit to a lesser extent, his sushi-loving ways.

"There'll be a time when he'll be able to eat it again, just at moderate levels," Colker said.

Meanwhile, Piven's loss is the Broadway gain for two other actors.

William H. Macy, no stranger to a Mamet production, and Tony Award-winning stage vet Norbert Leo Butz will replace Piven in the play in consecutive runs through the show's close on Feb. 22.