The Piano Man is making his way to television.
MGM Television and Universal Music Publishing Group are teaming up to develop an anthology series based on the music of Billy Joel, EW has confirmed. The scripted “arc-thology,” called Scenes From an Italian Restaurant, will feature episodes based on lyrics and characters from his iconic songs. (With “Italian Restaurant” right there in the title, it seems inevitable that the song’s high-school sweethearts, Brenda and Eddie, will make an appearance.)
Kevin Fox is creating the series and will executive produce alongside Joel and his longtime producing partner Steve Cohen, with Universal’s Jody Gerson and Marc Cimino serving as associate producers. The entirety of Joel’s catalog will reportedly be licensed for the series, which will be shopped to networks, and will be reimagined for the show by Joel’s music team with his input.
“Billy Joel is a beautiful storyteller, and it just so happens that his stories are accompanied alongside remarkable songs,” MGM TV president of development and production Steve Stark told The Hollywood Reporter, which was first to report the news. “This series is going to focus less on Billy’s life and more on the stories inside his catalog of classic songs.”
Joel’s expansive roster of hits, including the likes of “Piano Man,” “Only the Good Die Young,” “Uptown Girl,” and “New York State of Mind,” was previously adapted for the stage in the form of Twyla Tharp’s 2002 musical Movin’ Out. That show — which relied on choreography instead of dialogue to tell its story, with a band singing Joel’s songs instead of the dancers — ran for three years on Broadway before closing in 2005.
The news comes on the heels of the success of musical biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, and this Joel project is said to be the first time an artist’s entire catalog will be the basis for a TV series. (A pilot based on John Mayer’s song “The Heart of Life” was in the works, but THR’s report states that project has been shelved. “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s was also said to be getting the development treatment as a scripted series as of last year.)