Though David Mamet zinged Jeremy Piven's play-quitting sushi excuse in the press, other Speed-the-Plow producers were keeping their slams anonymous until they realized just how much fun it can be.

Now, they're going on the record to fill in Piven's repeated attempts to get out of his contract (spoken with the appropriate amount of dry skepticism). The NY Times reports:

Mr. Piven had asked earlier this month to be released from the show a week or two ahead of its Feb. 22 closing date, saying that he was exhausted, Jeffrey Richards, a producer of “Speed-the-Plow,” said. Later, Mr. Richards said, the show’s schedule was modified so that Mr. Piven would be able to attend the Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 11.

After making this accommodation, Mr. Richards said, he was informed by Mr. Piven’s representatives that the actor would not return to the show after the Golden Globes. Mr. Piven, he said, had spoken to other actors and managers in an effort to find his own replacement.

“It was rather unusual,” Mr. Richards said. “He was trying to be quote-unquote helpful.”

Sadly, Piven's entreaties were greeted with stunned laughter from alienated comrades John Cusack, Jack Black, and Stephen Dorff, though each reappeared in different guises after an unagi-fueled fainting spell led Piven to a hallucinatory dream worthy of Dickens. The Ghosts of Piven Past (Black, with a shaved-back hairline), Piven Present (a Patron-slamming Dorff) and Piven Future (Cusack as a disembodied voice behind a shaded hood) each attempted to bring the actor to an important self-realization, though a waking Pivs learned no lesson beside "stick to cable."