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Piven's Broadway exit heads to arbitration

 Jeremy Piven holds his award for outstanding supporting actor for his role in
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
— image credit: Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A dispute over actor Jeremy Piven's abrupt departure from the Broadway play "Speed the Plow" will be heard by an arbitrator in June, producers said on Wednesday.

The Emmy-award winning star of HBO's "Entourage" left the Broadway play in December, two months before his run ended, because of health concerns due to mercury poisoning.

Piven attributed the condition to eating fish frequently and said in a statement on Wednesday he had been warned by doctors he could suffer severe medical problems, including a heart attack, if he did not rest.

The producers filed a grievance against Piven with Actors' Equity, which was heard in February. Piven, 43, avoided any union penalties and the producers of the show decided to take their case to arbitration.

The producers said in a statement that they were preparing their case and have requested information from Piven "relating to his claims that an alleged illness required him to leave."

"The information requested includes, among other things, medical records and documentation of Mr. Piven's activities both during and after the run of the show," they said. Any information turned over by Piven would be subject to a strict confidentiality agreement, they said..

The arbitration will be heard in New York on June 8-9.

Piven said he repeatedly offered -- subject to a confidentiality deal -- to hand over his medical records and be examined by a doctor chosen by the producers, but that they never took him up on those offers.

"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 and the advice of medical professionals due to fear that they will be sued," Piven said.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols)

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