Billy Joel’s catalog is populated with vivid storylines and memorable characters — enough, apparently, to fuel a TV series. MGM is partnering with Universal Music Publishing Group to develop a scripted anthology series (or “arc-thology”) based around the songwriter’s music, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Scenes From an Italian Restaurant is named after Joel’s 1977 track of the same name, which he told Stephen Colbert ranked as one of his five best. Each episode of the project will be built around his famous lyrics, including characters like the Stranger, the Piano Man, Mamma Leone and Sgt. O’Leary. Joel worked with his music team to revamp the songs with new arrangements.
Kevin Fox (Law & Order: SVU) is creating and executive-producing the show alongside Joel and the songwriter’s long-time producing partner, Steve Cohen (who worked on the 2017 documentary Billy Joel: New York State of Mind).
Steve Stark, MGM TV’s president of development and production, told the Hollywood Reporter that the series will “focus less on Billy’s life and more on the stories inside his catalog of classic songs.”
That creative focus falls in line with Joel’s recent comments. Despite the popularity of rock-star biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, the singer told Rolling Stone in May that he “[doesn’t] have enough objectivity” to do one.
“I was gonna write an autobiography at one time — and I did,” he said. “There wasn’t enough sex, drugs and rock & roll in it for the publisher, so I gave the advance money back. I said, ‘Fuck it, that’s me.’ I don’t know if I’m interesting enough to make a movie out of. I lived my life. I don’t want to be redundant.”