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Jeremy Piven: Mercury Rising

Jeremy Piven: Mercury Rising | Obama’s Secret Soundtrack | Music News: Clive Embraced By Grammys

Jeremy Piven: Mercury Rising

The annual Golden Globe Awards were the usual mixed bag as produced by the Hollywood Foreign — er, freak — Press Association. Kate Winslet wound up winning two awards, Sean Penn refused to attend because the group snubbed his movie, "Milk," and Colin Farrell gave a sideways insult to the doddering fools who vote the ballots, collect $6 million tax-free dollars from NBC and are famous for publicly fighting among themselves.

But then there are the parties at the Beverly Hilton following the show. And even though the HFPA did everything they could think of, including outright lying, to keep yours truly out of them and off the premises, FOX411 persevered, and still managed to attend the big three, thanks to studio invites from HBO, Warner Bros./InStyle magazine, and NBC Universal.

The best of these was the HBO shindig, mostly thanks to the cable network picking up a clutch of awards for “John Adams,” “True Blood,” and “In Treatment.” For a while you could barely move among the crowds at HBO as various groups of celebs hobknobbed. Trudie Styler, aka Mrs. Sting, even had a reunion with award-winning actor Tom Wilkinson after 25 years. It turns out they dated back in her pre-rock days. Who knew?

And then there was Jeremy Piven, who lost to Wilkinson in the supporting category — a rarity for Piven, whose Ari on HBO’s “Entourage” has garnered a lot of statues. Piven has had a rough few weeks since leaving the Broadway play "Speed the Plow” claiming he was felled by mercury poisoning. Since then, the press has been a horror, with the New York tabs accusing Piven of everything short of treason or genocide.

So here now is Piven’s side of things, as he explained it to me last night: "I was so sick for most of the run of the show. Some days I would sleep right until the time I had to go to the theater. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was exhausted. Finally, I went to a doctor at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut just so it wouldn’t turn into a circus. He said, 'you’ve got to stop working.' My heart rate was 47. My mercury level was off the charts. I hadn’t had a real break in 20 years of acting.'"

Many people are skeptical of Piven’s mercury excuse. Playwright David Mamet told the papers of Piven: "He wants to be a thermometer.” Piven told me that was a funny line. "But what do you expect? He’s a great writer." Piven told me he had nothing but respect for co-star Raul Esparza, even though Esparza has bad mouthed him publicly since the exit. Last night at the HBO party, Piven spoke for the first time to his other ex-castmate, Elizabeth Moss. "We’re okay," Jeremy told me. "She said she understood. She knew how much I put into the play."

Piven does suspect the play’s producers of fueling the fire in the New York press. He doesn’t care. "My life has always been in the theater. I was raised in the theater." And the truth is, Piven could not have gotten out of the play without a real diagnosis for insurance purposes. He says that years of being a fish eating vegetarian was enough to do the trick and act as a catalyst.

Some reality, not just opinion: Piven has no negative history in Hollywood or New York of shirking his duties. In fact, he’s been a reliable player in all media. It’s not like he’s ever had trouble on a set. And it wasn't like he was trying to get out of "Speed the Plow" because of poor reviews. Critics and audiences loved his Bobby Gould. So maybe, just maybe, there’s nothing so fishy about Piven’s exit. Plus, business was good.

More from the Globes later today…

Obama’s Secret Soundtrack

Here’s a flash from the music world: while the rest of us were enjoying the holidays, Hidden Beach Records honcho Steve McKeever and movie music supervisor Bonnie Greenberg have been hard at work putting together a special CD tied to Barack Obama’s inauguration.

The very cool “Obama Soundtrack” will hit stores next Tuesday, the 20th, even though it was finished this past weekend. Talk about hot off the presses!

The CD features a dozen stars including Stevie Wonder, who contributed a totally new track called “All About the Love Again.” The single, destined to be Wonder’s biggest hit in more than a decade, is a sizzling fresh slice of R&B, very updated and ready to embraced in remixes, etc.

The other artists on the album include Maroon 5 with their own new track, “Pure Imagination (2009),” plus will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, Sheryl Crow, Lenny Kravitz, India.Arie, Melissa Etheridge, Usher, James Taylor, Jennifer Hudson, Death Cab for Cutie, Ozomatli, Robin Thicke, The Tony Rich Project, Wilco, Bebe Winans, rapper Common, Lionel Richie, and Melissa Etheridge.

McKeever and Greenberg, with an even bigger committee, worked tirelessly to put together a combination of artists and songs based on the songs’ themes and lyrics, too.

Unlike most compilation CDs, the Obama Soundtrack is full of new, catchy very hot material—no retreads or musty pieces from the vaults. All the artists, I am told by sources, were paid on the same level no matter how big or small they considered themselves. And that, I’ve heard in the music industry, caused a little problem as the always charming Warner M. Group refused to make deals for any of their artists including anything from the Atlantic vaults. I’m sure, in fact, that Aretha Franklin has no idea that requests for a couple of her classic tracks like “A Change is Gonna Come”—were declined. The M in WMG now stands for Miserly.

But the Obama Soundtrack should also be collector’s item purchase since it includes a DVD of several speech clips from the new US president. The CD, by the way, intersperses pieces of Obama speeches throughout the new songs. For example, I don’t know much about the Tony Rich project, but I love their contribution called “The Dream is Real.”

Music News: Clive Embraced By Grammys

Sometimes Page Six at the New York Post just gets it wrong, wrong, wrong. I told you three months ago that the Grammys were turning Clive Davis' annual pre-awards show dinner into one of their official events. On Friday they made the official announcement, which Page Six then turned somehow twisted into a negative.

In fact: the Grammys are thrilled to sponsor Davis’s dinner, turning what had been an “outsider” event into one of their own. The new sponsorship takes the onus off of Clive’s staff to get corporate sponsors and lets the music legend concentrate on putting together a spectacular presentation. This year he will feature Davis’s acts like Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson—if she’s up to it, Leona Lewis, Jazmine Sullivan, plus the return of Kelly Clarkson, possibly Whitney Houston, and surprises galore.

This dinner is the hottest ticket of the year in the music business, don’t be fooled by naysayers. It had to be moved a couple of years ago from the Beverly Hills Hotel to the Beverly Hilton because the fire marshal was going crazy trying to control the crowds of paparazzi and fans. Believe me, Clive could put this on in the Staples Center and there still wouldn’t be enough room! This year’s event will be just the beginning of a long, beautiful new relationship between Neil Portnow’s NARAS and Davis representing Sony/BMG/and his own J Records.