“Kevin Can Wait” on Monday promised to get in a New York state of mind, then lift a couple of scenes from an Italian restaurant (along with a bottle of white, bottle of red), and somehow also find its way to Zanzibar and Allentown in the process.
Okay, as it turned out, that was an exaggeration — a whopper of one if you actually saw the episode — but Billy Joel still made his long-awaited cameo on this CBS sitcom looking to establish its Long Island creds.
However, blink and you missed it. Cough, and you didn’t hear it. Go to the refrigerator and fuggedaboutit: Billy came and went while you were still opening the door.
In the TV trade, we call this kind of cameo a tease. Others, less charitably, a bait-and-switch.
Here’s how it all went down: Kevin Gable (played by Kevin James) decided he really wanted to create a family tradition, around games, or dinner, or what-have-you. But his familial ambitions went sideways when his pals got him tickets to Joel at the Garden. Cut to Kevin stage-side, belting out lyrics to “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” while Joel holds out the microphone stand to him to pretty much complete his debasement.
And that was it.
Until last night, Joel hadn’t done a cameo appearance on a sitcom in 17 years, or since a 1999 appearance on “Mad About You” as a favor to star (and friend) Paul Reiser. That was also a blink-and-you-missed-it walk-on, lasting just about three seconds and covering but four words (“Yeah, I been there.”)
Last night, Billy didn’t even need a script. (He didn’t even utter a line.) So does this even count as a cameo? Debate among yourselves.
After a lot of promotion about being TV’s first LI-produced prime-time sitcom (ever), along with Mineola-born star James, this CBS show last night may have wanted to prove there’s a lot more Long Island here than so far meets the eye. (And yes, the series is produced at Bethpage’s Gold Coast Studios). Before launch, James said Joel was pretty much his dream cameo for the series — which already has had a pair of notable ones in Ray Romano and Adam Sandler.
At least they had lines.