“Piano Man” Biopic Will Focus On Billy Joel’s Early Years
A Billy Joel biopic titled “Piano Man” is in the works at Michael Jai White’s Jaigantic Studios, with Adam Ripp on board to write and direct.
The biopic will follow the 72-year-old singer’s early years—from being discovered by Irwin Mazur at age 16, who managed the band The Hassles that Joel joined as a teenager, to his breakout performance in 1972 that captured the attention of Clive Davis.
Executive producers for the movie include White, Mayne Berke and Donovan de Boer, as well as Mazur and Ripp. However, according to Variety, Joel won’t be involved with the film project and refused to grant rights to his music, name, likeness or life story as the representative of the Grammy winner singer said.
Instead, the studio has acquired the life rights to Joel’s first manager Mazur, who managed the singer from 1965 to 1972, the year before the breakthrough Piano Man album was released. Although, they have not announced how they will incorporate Joel’s music catalog into the storyline. According to the producers, the music needs for the film are “yet to be determined.”
Director Ripp’s father, Artie, signed Joel to his first record deal as a solo artist and produced his debut album, “Cold Spring Harbor” in 1971. Ripp said in a statement announcing the film:
“Billy Joel has been a part of my life since my father signed him to his record label when I was four years old; 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.”
“What a dream come true! 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.”
“As a lifelong fan of Billy Joel, I am elated to be part of the team to produce his biopic. Billy Joel is the key figure on the Mount Rushmore of American Music.”
White’s work as an actor, writer and director includes Arrow, The Dark Knight, Spawn, Mortal Kombat: Legacy and the 2009 action-comedy, Black Dynamite. While Ripp’s previous credits include producing 2012’s Gambit and directing Devil’s Whisper in 2019.
Joel’s music may not be part of the upcoming movie, but he is scheduled to have several stadium concerts that will keep him busy over the next few months. His next stop is at the Campus World Stadium in Orlando on March 12. Joel also has six scheduled appearances at Madison Square Garden between March 24 and August 24.