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Equity, Piven Win Arbitration Case

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Actors' Equity Association announced Aug. 27 that the union and Jeremy Piven have won an arbitration victory regarding Piven's departure in December from a Broadway production of David Mamet's "Speed-the-Plow." At the time, Piven attributed his exit to mercury poisoning, which he said had left him disoriented on stage and fearful for his life.

In February, a committee of Equity and Broadway League members came to a split decision over a grievance filed against Piven by the play's producers. That led the two parties to arbitration. In a written statement, an Equity representative said, "The decision acknowledges that Mr. Piven did not breach his individual employment contract nor did he breach the Equity-League collective bargaining contract."

Piven told The New York Times, "I'm just a theater actor who got sick and was physically incapable of finishing my run. And now I can put this behind me and move on. And I'm stronger than I've ever been."

Piven's standing with the seafood industry is not, however, stronger than it's ever been. The National Fisheries Institute took issue with the actor's claim that his inability to perform may have been linked to two decades of regular fish consumption. "It is important to note that no peer-reviewed medical journal has ever published any evidence of a case of methylmercury poisoning caused by the normal consumption of commercial seafood in the U.S.," the group said in a statement. "This ruling does not change that simple scientific fact."

SAG on Contract Spree

The Screen Actors Guild has resolved its fifth outstanding contract since April and is on the verge of sealing the deal on a sixth. The guild announced Aug. 26 that its members had ratified a two-year successor to its basic-cable live-action agreement, with 93.7 percent of voters favoring the deal and 25.8 percent of members voting. The new contract includes a 3 percent wage increase retroactive to June 10, 2009, to be followed by a 3.5 percent wage increase on June 10, 2010.

The guild also announced Aug. 27 that it would be holding meetings Sept. 8 in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco to inform members about talks on a new contract for performers working in video games. The previous video-game deal expired in 2008. SAG's jurisdiction includes Electronic Arts and more than 70 other game publishers.

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