When Jeremy Piven abruptly left the Broadway production of Speed-the-Plow, citing mercury poisoning, he pissed off everyone working on the show. Now the New York Times is offering them some condolences: Plow's better Piven-less.

Chief theater critic Ben Brantley has gone and re-reviewed the show, watching both short-term replacement Norbert Leo Butz and long-term guy William H. Macy. He loves both of 'em, and thanks Piven, whose excuse and seemingly quick recovery have been called into question, for leaving when he did. He gives him little digs like:

"Mr. Piven’s absence has made me fonder of “Speed-the-Plow” than I would ever have thought possible."


"In large part thanks to them, “Speed-the-Plow” is just as fun as it was in October, but also richer and more satisfying. That Mr. Piven hasn’t been part of that evolution is his loss."

While Brantley does give Piven some praise, it must sting a little to read that the play didn't need you after all. In fact it's better in some ways for you having left. But critics, shmitics. Piven can take comfort in the show's box office, which dropped significantly after he left. People like Butz and Macy may have the adoration of the stuffy old Times, but Piven has a small nation of gurgling TV watchers behind him.