- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2009

Peeved with Piven

The producers of “Speed-the-Plow” say they have filed a grievance with Actors’ Equity Association, the stage actors union, against Jeremy Piven for abruptly leaving the Broadway revival last month, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Piven quit the David Mamet comedy less than two months after it opened to favorable reviews at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The actor’s doctor said Mr. Piven was unable perform because of high levels of mercury in his system, possibly caused by eating large amounts of raw fish.

No date for the grievance proceedings was announced.

William H. Macy is playing Mr. Piven’s role of an ambitious Hollywood producer in the production, which also stars Raul Esparza and Elisabeth Moss.

‘Good thriller’

Tom Cruise is too stiff and too short to play Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the would-be assassin of Adolf Hitler in the movie,”Valkyrie,” a descendant of the real-life plotter said in an interview in Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Agence France-Presse reports.

Ahead of the film’s release in Germany Thursday, Franz von Stauffenberg told the paper that Mr. Cruise failed to capture what inspired people to join forces with his great-uncle. Mr. Cruise is expected in Berlin for a gala opening.

“Tom Cruise … comes across as extremely stiff,” Mr. von Stauffenberg said after seeing the movie. “He seems not at all decisive in the role and above all not charismatic enough. On the whole, he just seems too small.”

Mr. von Stauffenberg said he was pleased to see the story given the Hollywood treatment, enabling it to reach a global audience. “It ended up being a good thriller,” he said.

Boss’ CD on NPR

If you can’t wait until the end of the month to hear Bruce Springsteen’s latest CD, just tune into NPR’s music Web site just before midnight Monday. NPR.org/music will exclusively broadcast “Working on a Dream” in its entirety on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at 11:59 p.m. That’s a week before the album’s release. It makes its debut in stores Jan. 27. Fans also can listen to the record on demand until its release.


- Patrick Swayze, the “Dirty Dancing” star who is battling pancreatic cancer, has been released from a weeklong stay at a hospital, where he was treated for pneumonia, People magazine reported Friday.

Mr. Swayze, 56, was hospitalized in Los Angeles on Jan. 9, hours before he was scheduled to appear at a gathering of television critics to promote his new TV crime drama, “The Beast,” which premiered on the A&E cable network Thursday.

- Former Culture Club frontman Boy George, 47, was sentenced in London Friday to 15 months in jail after being found guilty in December of falsely imprisoning a Norwegian male escort, Reuters news agency reports

Tried under his real name, George O’Dowd, the entertainer denied the charge of false imprisonment at his London flat in April 2007.

- Multimillionaire athletes are not immune to the global financial crisis: Serena Williams admitted in Melbourne, Australia, that she is cutting back her spending on designer handbags and glitzy jewelry. “The bag I’m carrying now is worth $12,” Miss Williams said Saturday at a news conference ahead of the Australian Open. “I have really cut back.

- Compiled by Richard Slusser from wire and Web reports

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