Billy Joel's signature work, "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant," may be coming to television as the basis for an anthology series that will take its name from the 1977 song.
Somewhat reminiscent of Joel's 2002 Broadway show, "Movin' Out," which was choreographed by Twyla Tharp, "Scenes" will adapt lyrics from a number of Joel songs, then spin out plotlines from those. The Hollywood Reporter said Wednesday on its website that the scripted series will be called an "arc-thology," presumably meaning each episode will be based on lyrics of his hits and populated by characters from his songs, including the Stranger, the Piano Man, Mamma Leone and Sergeant O'Leary. The tracks will be re-imagined and rearranged by Joel's music team — with his input — and take his tunes in new directions, THR said.
Steve Stark, chief of development for MGM TV, which along with Universal Music Publishing Group is creating the series, told the trade publication, "Billy Joel is a beautiful storyteller, and it just so happens that his stories are accompanied alongside remarkable songs. This series is going to focus less on Billy's life and more on the stories inside his catalog of classic songs." The Reporter also noted that this project is "said to be the first time an artist’s entire catalog will be the basis for a TV series."
"Movin' Out," which ran at the Richard Rodgers Theatre for three years, was essentially a musical told in dance. Exactly how Universal and MGM will mount this series is unclear, according to THR and other reports. Joel is expected to have some input, most likely in an advisory capacity. (THR said he would be an executive producer.)
The timing and venue remain up in the air, too. The series is expected to be shopped to "networks," per THR, but that could conceivably include streaming services as well.