Jeremy Piven, amid published reports that he had tired of the nightly grind of a performing in a play, moved off Broadway this week, leaving behind the hit revival of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow" and co-stars Raul Esparza and Elisabeth Moss. In exiting, he used the sushi defense: He had become ill because of mercury in his system, caused by excessive intake of sushi.
The brilliant playwright Mamet told Variety: "I talked to Jeremy on the phone, and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury. My understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer."
Golden Globe and SAG nominee Piven, star of HBO's "Entourage," will be replaced in "Speed" by Tony-winning Broadway vet Norbert Leo Butz ("Wicked," "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels") and later William H. Macy. Neither, it seems, aspires to be a thermometer.
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Best moment on a recent talk show: Homestead's own Jeff Goldblum speaking articulately and passionately about his performance in "Adam Resurrected" on the "Today" show. The film is described on imdb.com as: "In the aftermath of WWII, a former circus entertainer who was spared from the gas chamber becomes the ringleader at an asylum for Holocaust survivors." Goldblum said at one point in his character's heightened state of agitation, director Paul Schrader challenged Goldblum to eat dirt, literally, to make a scene more potent. And he did.
Second best: Frank Langella, with Ron Howard as a guest of Charlie Rose, was explaining how he has channeled Richard Nixon, first in the play "Frost/Nixon," and now in the movie version, opening here Christmas Day. Langella said there's a line you'll see in the movie that's not in the play, something he woke up realizing he needed to say. It's simply, "No one knows what it's like to resign the presidency." And obviously, no one but Nixon ever did.
Ickiest moment on a recent talk show: Scarlett Johansson, telling Jay Leno she had a cold caused by "Spirit" co-star Samuel L. Jackson's germs, then blowing into a tissue and saving it to be sold for charity on eBay. I don't care if it's for a good cause. No one's snot is worth owning.
Happiest host: Jennifer Aniston gave David Letterman the tie she wore -- when she wore only a tie -- as the GQ cover girl.
Ubiquitous: Tom Cruise has been seemingly everywhere promoting "Valkyrie." Most tense moment of his promo tour: Volunteering to read the top 10 list on David Letterman, which turned out to be: Top 10 crazy things said about Tom Cruise on the Internet. He paused before a few, but got through them all.
Best use of Kelly Ripa: The "Regis and Kelly" co-host left the studio to make a video about winter- and holiday-related shows in NYC.
Confession: I scroll my Comcast guide for guests on talk shows and do a lot DVRing.
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And now for the "What's that doing in there?" line in a recent movie: In "The Spirit," based on a '40s noirish comic book, a character is heard to say hat somebody's "as dead as 'Star Trek.' " I thought, "Huh? is that a Frank Miller commentary?" Well, actually, I thought something a little stronger than that.
Right after that preview, I found out that Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, widow of "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry, had died of leukemia at age 76. Barrett had played several "Star Trek" characters and provided the voice of the Enterprise computer for "The Next Generation" -- and she had already recorded voice work for J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" prequel, due in theaters next year.
Weird juxtaposition, I know, but all I could think of is, Majel Barett, who worked tirelessly to continue her husband's work, would be the first to say, "Star Trek" is very much alive.