A Point-By-Point Analysis of Jeremy Piven's Late Show Sushi Defense

Ever since Jeremy Piven was felled by his decades-long devotion to an all-fish diet so constitutionally disastrous that it would make even the heartiest Great White consider beaching itself for a restorative steak dinner, the celebrated Entourage star has had to defend himself against widespread allegations of goldbricking his way off of Speed-the-Plow each time he's had to hit the talk show circuit to promote a new project. Roughly five-thousand TV appearances later, Piven took to David Letterman's couch last night and finally convinced us to buy his story and see him as the helpless victim of a crippling toro-roll addiction.

Congratulations, Jeremy Piven's team of highly skilled publicists, your Jackhammer of Truth has penetrated the concrete of our knee-jerk cynicism! You should now feel free to cancel his upcoming Very Special Episode of Hoarders, featuring the still-recovering thespian giving a tour of a Hollywood Hills homes rendered totally unnavigable by teetering, ponzu-soaked stacks of Whole Foods sushi-to-go containers, knowing that your job here is complete. But how did this Letterman appearance finally persuade us that Piven has been telling the truth all along? Here are our reasons why the segment (embedded below for your viewing pleasure) changed our minds, and should change yours as well.

While mercury poisoning might sound like a "rich man's disease," it's still a disease.

Contracting a rash "from the leather seats in your Lambourghini," while also ridiculous-sounding, is also a serious condition that we should not dismiss because it primarily afflicts the well-to-do. If you paper-cut a man with a thousand-dollar bill, does he not bleed diamond-dust-infused blood?

The Obama Administration's facts about the potential deadliness of delicious, delicious fish are on his side.

Says Piven, "The Obama Administration came out and they said the number one chemical problem in the world right now is mercury. And they came out the other day and said there's mercury in all fish right now." Citing these government-certified facts is a savvy rhetorical move: chances are the majority of the people who'll see this TV spot voted for Obama, so to deny them is tantamount to believing your President was born on a Kenyan goat farm, then smuggled directly into the home of a Hawaiian birth-certificate forger as a mewling baby. You want to be a Birther, Mr. Smirking Skeptic, you go right ahead.

He freely admits to a slight self-inflation of his record-setting mercury levels, giving us a reason to trust that he's now levelling with us.

No, 57 mercury-poisoning-units are not quite 60 mercury-poisoning-units, but they are still an alarmingly high number of mercury-poisoning-units.

There's no questioning his commitment to eating fish, and only fish.

"I had been eating nothing but fish for 20 years. I had taken out red meat and chicken and dairy products and everything. I had been doing the wrong thing. I didn't know it," explains Piven. Tell us something: Have you done anything for 20 straight years, much less adhered to a ridiculously proscriptive diet? We didn't think so. Get back to us after two decades of ingesting no sustenance besides fish, attempting to stage a physically demanding play eight times a week, then tell us how well your body responds to this incredibly specific set of stressors. Chances are you'll never return to argue your point, because you will have dropped dead of gastronomic boredom five months into your experiment. And if the boredom doesn't kill you, the sushi-induced cardiac infarction will.

The media grossly distorted his condition and the circumstances of his self-removal from the play.

"This kind of turned into 'I ate a bad piece of yellowtail and bolted!" It did kind of turn into that story, didn't it? After disappointed Speed-the-Plow playwright David Mamet quipped that his erstwhile star was leaving the production to "pursue a career as a thermometer," there was no chance of a sober discussion of the issue. Everyone was all, Thermometer Man this, Bad-Yellowtail-Bolting-Guy that. Now, months later, we finally have an opportunity to see Piven as something other than a mercury-riddled, sashimi-gobbling caricature of himself.

He wanted to continue, he really, really did.

"I was so sad this happened to me, I wanted to continue the run. I was having the time of my life." Why would anyone quit "the time of [his] life" without a good reason? Say what you will about Piven, but the man is no ascetic, even if he did once spend a little time getting his shakras polished in India.

People just want to believe the most sensational version of what might have happened.

"I think everyone loves a good fish story."

He's not wrong about that. We do love a good fish story.

David Letterman did not make him cry.

Anyone who can successfully clench and release his sphincter muscles can beat a lie detector, but not being reduced to a blubbering shell willing to admit to kidnapping the Lindberg baby during an interrogation by late night television's most relentless Inquisitor (even on one of Dave's off nights, like last night) is a much more difficult feat. And Piven, to his credit, did not cry, even once. And that's enough for us.

Letterman - Jeremy Piven's Fish Story [YouTube]



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