A biopic about Billy Joel titled Piano Man has been greenlit by actor-director Michael Jai White’s Jaigantic Studios. The film about the five-time Grammy Award-winning musician’s life will be written and directed by Devil’s Whisper helmer, Adam Ripp, Variety is reporting.
The movie will follow Joel’s early life, beginning with him being discovered by Irwin Mazur, who managed the band the singer-songwriter joined as a teenager, The Hassles. The biopic will also chronicle the musician’s breakout performance in 1972 that captured the attention of iconic record producer, Clive Davis.
However, Joel’s rep has revealed that the singer isn’t involved with the film. That means the rights to his music, name and likeness and life story won’t be granted to the film’s production.
A representative for the studio stated that with regards to the use and rights of Joel’s music, their movie’s story “focuses on the first stage of Mr. Joel’s career; therefore, our music needs are still being determined.”
Instead, Jaigantic has acquired the life rights to Mazur, who served as Joel’s music rep from 1970 to 1972, the year before his commercial breakthrough; the musician’s popular titular album and song were released in 1973. As a result, the music that will be featured in the film is “yet to be determined,” according to the production’s producers.
Piano Man will be executive produced by Jaigantic Studio. White, Mayne Berke and Donovan de Boer will serve as producers.
Mazur, whose father owned the Long Island club where Joel began his career with The Hassles in 1966, will also produce the movie. He’ll e joined by Ripp, whose father, Artie Ripp, signed Joel to his first record deal as a solo artist and produced his debut album, Cold Spring Harbor.
While discussing why he decided to sign on to direct the biopic, Ripp said in a statement: “Billy Joel has been a part of my life since my father signed him to his record label when I was 4 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.”
The scribe-helmer also commented on Joel’s relationships with Mazur and his father while discussing the film with EW. “If Billy Joel didn’t have Irwin Mazur…and Artie Ripp, the world would not have the Piano Man…Piano Man will feature some of the very best music Billy Joel performed and recorded from 1966 to 1972.”
Also discussing the movie, Mazur noted: “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.”
Also chiming in on the biopic, White stated: “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.”