A Billy Joel biopic is on its way — and the Piano Man himself has nothing to do with it. On Wednesday, Michael Jai White’s Jaigantic Studios greenlit the film, titled Piano Man, despite Joel refusing to grant rights to his music, name, and likeness.
A rep for the singer tells Rolling Stone that “Billy Joel is not involved with this film project” and that he has no plans to give access to his music and life story.
The film will follow the singer’s early life since being discovered by Irwin Mazur to garnering the attention of Clive Davis in 1972. (The film acquired the rights to Mazur’s life story. He served as Joel’s business rep for two years, according to Joel’s rep.)
Mazur’s lawyer, however, tells Rolling Stone: “Irwin Mazur was Billy Joel’s ‘personal manager’ while Billy was a member of a band known as the Hassles, then while Billy was part of a duet known as Attila, and while Billy was a solo artist through the time of the release of Billy’s initial solo album, Cold Spring Harbor, during a period of approximately seven consecutive years.”
“These are the real-life events I witnessed first-hand that shaped Billy from a keyboard player in the local Long Island band, the Hassles, into the iconic musician, singer-songwriter, and entertainer who thrills audiences around the world, today,” Mazur told Variety about the film.
Without access to Joel’s discography, producers told Variety that music for the film is “yet to be determined.”
Adam Ripp — behind 2017’s Devil Whisper and 2014’s Everly — is set to direct and write the film. His father Artie signed Joel to his first solo record deal and produced his debut Cold Spring Harbor. “His music is ingrained in my DNA and it’s been a dream of mine as a filmmaker to explore and celebrate the untold story of how Billy Joel became the Piano Man,” Ripp said.