If there ever was a year when
The three-time Emmy winner has been in London filming “Mr. Selfridge,” his first TV series since “
"It's the opportunity of a lifetime," Piven said over the phone from London last week. "I'm not going to lie to you, the last thing I need to do is jump on a plane to go to Chicago for a day. But nothing is going to keep me from doing (the Piven Theatre benefit). I'm doing this for my mother and also to honor my father's memory. It means a lot to me to be in the position where I can contribute in some way. That brings me enormous pride."
Most of the students at the theater are on scholarships, Piven said, which is why the galas, including Saturday’s at Noyes Cultural Arts Center in Evanston, are so important to the theater’s existence. The 46-year-old actor himself was trained at the theater, as were actors John and Joan Cusack and
This year's gala will be the first since the popular "Entourage" ended. How that will affect attendance and the look of the crowd — Piven isn't sure. But he expects celebs to attend just as they have in past years (the Bears' Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman will be on hand). And although there will be no "Entourage" walk-on role up for auction this time around, Piven said guests will be able to bid on a walk-on role on "Mr. Selfridge."
In the show, Piven plays real-life retail mogul Harry Gordon Selfridge, the American who founded British department store Selfridges. Selfridge was known for his vices, including gambling and womanizing, as well as his then-innovative motto, “The customer is always right.” Before opening his first store, Selfridge spent a significant amount of his career working in Chicago for what later became
“It’s the same folks who do ‘
Piven said filming on the show, which is expected to air in 2013, is half done. How have British fans treated Piven so far compared with U.S. fans?