"I talked to Jeremy on the phone, and he told me that he discovered that he had a very high level of mercury. So my understanding is that he is leaving show business to pursue a career as a thermometer."
So sayeth the bard, apropos Mr. Piven's dropping out of a Broadway revival of Speed The Plow.
A sharp tongue with zero respect for propriety seems to be a signal feature in the Mamet family. Many of you may recall Mamet's sister's reflections on pastrami, in the essay "On True Stories of Bitches," collected in Mamet's book Some Freaks Writing in Restaurants. If you don't, by all means check out the piece posthaste.
Of course, one's amusement at the above quip will likely be tempered by whether or not one believes Mr. Piven is being entirely straight up about the matter. I suspect that Mamet's not buying it. I also suspect that even if he was buying it, he simply would not be able to resist the line.
I've never met the putatively stricken actor, but boy, have I heard stories. Few are repeatable. My repeatable favorite—stop me if you've heard it before—concerns some fallout over my rather negative review of Very Bad Things in 1998. He met a Premiere colleague at a party in Chicago, and asked her first, how old I was, and second, whether I was British or not. As if some combination of these factors would account for what in his mind was my incomprehensible incomprehension of the film. It so happens that I am a mere six years and one month older than the actor.
(VBT's director Peter Berg had a somewhat more incurious reaction to my notice. "That review was fucking uncool!" he snapped to a different colleague from a red carpet. That's right, "uncool," as in what Angelina did. But not just "uncool." "Fucking uncool." Darn.)
Giving Piven the benefit of the doubt, I wish him a speedy recovery. Lay off the tekka-don, fella; that'll help. As for Mamet, thank you for making us laugh again.