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Billy Joel is a Kennedy Center honoree

You thought you ate at the place that

You thought you ate at the place that was the motivation for Billy Joel's "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant." He now admits that he was going for applause when he said onstage once that the Italian Christiano's in Syosset was the motivation. "It was like saying 'Yankees' when you're playing in New York," he told Newsday, adding that it was a restaurant he frequented back in the day. (The inspirations for "Italian Restaurant" are actually in Manhattan -- Il Cortile in Little Italy and Fontana Di Trevi in midtown.) (Credit: Getty Images)

The Piano Man is about to get his due: Billy Joel will become a Kennedy Center honoree. He joins this year's other honorees, Martina Arroyo, Shirley MacLaine, Herbie Hancock and Carlos Santana. The ceremony will be telecast on CBS Dec. 29.

Yes, this is prestigious and yes, this gilds an already long career for recipients. As the CBS program notes explain, "The Honors recipients are recognized for their lifetime contributions to American culture through the performing arts – whether in dance, music, theater, opera, motion pictures or television – and are selected by the Center’s Board of Trustees. The primary criterion in the selection process is excellence. The Honors are not designated by art form or category of artistic achievement; the selection process, over the years, has produced a balance among the various arts and artistic disciplines.

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