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"Record Flair - With Hot Air?"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(May 2nd, 2006)

When Billy Joel's "12 Gardens Live" (Columbia), the album collecting performances from his 12-show run at Madison Square Garden, comes out on June 13th, 2006, here's an important fact to remember: It's not fireworks. It's balloons.

To celebrate the retirement of his "number," for breaking the record for most sold-out shows in the same tour, a banner was raised to the rafters and hundreds of balloons fell to the stage. It looked like a dream, but for the sound team recording the show, it was a nightmare.

"It's going to sound like a Fourth of July show," Joel said on the stage, as fans and the crew began popping the balloons during the breaks between songs.

They tried this for a few songs, with band members even pitching in, stomping on nearby balloons, but there wasn't enough time.

If there weren't 11 other shows already recorded, there might have been a bit of a panic. However, Joel took it all in stride.

He and the band even took to playing "Pop Goes The Weasel" to give the crew more time to get rid of the balloons.

"Billboard Bit"
By: Jonathan Cohen
(May 4th, 2006)

Although details are still coming together, Columbia is eyeing a June 13th, 2006 release for "12 Gardens Live," a double-disc concert album chronicling Billy Joel's record-breaking 12-night sell-out run at New York's Madison Square Garden. The shows were part of Joel's first major tour in eight years, which will resume in Europe beginning June 26th, 2006 in Vienna, Austria.

"People ask me how I get psyched up for a show," Joel recently told Billboard. "When I walk out and I'm standing on the stage when the lights go up and there's this huge roar, you're psyched up. We basically haven't changed our philosophy from the early days. Whether we're playing clubs, colleges, arenas or stadiums, tertiary markets or major cities, the focus is on that particular concert."

"Billy Joel To Release Live Set From Madison Square Garden Stand"
(May 5th, 2006)

Although details are still coming together, Bill Joel is eyeing a June 13th, 2006 release for "12 Gardens Live," a double-disc souvenir of his record-breaking 12-night sell-out run at New York's Madison Square Garden.

The January-March stint was part of Joel's first major solo tour in eight years, which will resume on June 26th, 2006 in Vienna, Austria. The Columbia album would mark his first non-studio compilation release since the 2001 classical set "Fantasies & Delusions."

"Showtime Calling Billy Joel A 'Big Shot'"
(May 10th, 2006)

Showtime has struck a deal with legendary singer, Billy Joel to turn his life story into a drama called "Big Shot."

Sean Hayes from "Will & Grace" and Joel will executive produce the one-hour drama that picks up during the pop icon's early years, reports "Variety." Paul Chart ("The Children of Men") will write the pilot script.

"Big Shot" will detail Joel's turbulent journey through the music business with the first season likely taking place in the mid-1970s. It will also follow his first marriage to his then-business manager Elizabeth Weber.

"Big Shot" will premiere in the fall.

"Showtime For 'Piano Man'"
Pay Net Turning Joel Story Into Drama Series

By: Denise Martin
(May 11th, 2006)

Showtime is turning the life story of Billy Joel into a biographical series.

Pay network has teamed with Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner's Hazy Mill Prods. on "Big Shot," a one-hour drama that picks up during the pop icon's early years.

Joel will executive produce with Hayes, Milliner and Andrew Harrison Leeds. Paul Chart ("The Children of Men") will pen the pilot script.

"Big Shot" will detail Joel's turbulent journey through the music business. First season will likely take place in the mid-1970s and follow his first marriage to his then-business manager Elizabeth Weber.

Milliner said the singer's life was ripe for the telling: "Billy has had the quintessential rock star life with all the ups and downs." She noted that neither Joel nor Showtime were interested in a story told from "a fan's perspective."

Milliner and Hayes pitched the idea to Showtime entertainment prexy Robert Greenblatt and executive VP Gary Levine, who commissioned a script shortly thereafter.

"This isn't a love letter to Billy. He actually is pretty insistent that we tell the whole story," Milliner said. "Our goal is to explore his personal and family life. We're going to try and tell all the stories in between, not just the major events," including his highly publicized marriages, car accidents and alcohol problems.

Music will be a major part of the finished project; Joel owns the rights to all of his own songs.

Hazy Mills is developing dramedy "The Bridge" at Sci-Fi Channel and will shoot the pilot for the TBS comedy "Broken News" this summer.

"'Piano Man' To Offer Advice"
(May 13th, 2006)

Billy Joel will be back in town on Sunday as Syracuse University's graduation speaker. The ceremony and his speech are open to the public.

If you don't have a ticket, you can enter the dome starting at 10:00am to get a seat. The academic procession starts around 9:30am and the ceremony should end by noon.

Syracuse University suggests allowing an hour and a half to deal with traffic and parking for the Carrier Dome.

"Billy Joel Speaks at Syracuse University Commencement"
(May 14th, 2006)

Billy Joel returned to the Carrier Dome Sunday for the second time in as many months.

But this time he wasn't wowing the crowds with his music. Instead he addressed the thousands of graduating Syracuse University and SUNY ESF seniors.

Joel has a special place for Syracuse University. In September, he gave the College of Visual Arts a $320,000 gift which will be used for musical scholarships and endowments.

Joel has received many awards during his life, but today he received an honorary "Doctor of Music" degree from Syracuse University.

In all, Syracuse University is handing out 5,022 degrees and SUNY ESF will hand out 526.

"Billy Joel Serenades 5,000 Syracuse University Graduates"
(May 14th, 2006)

Singer Billy Joel got a standing ovation from nearly 5,000 Syracuse University graduates Sunday morning after he serenaded them and urged them to do what they love in life.

"Don't do it for security or status, prestige, money, or, for crying out loud, don't do it for somebody else," he said. "Do it for love. Because if you love what you do, you'll always do what you love."

Joel, who never graduated high school and instead traveled "the college of the road," estimated he has received 5 or 6 honorary degrees. That includes a new doctorate of fine arts from Syracuse University.

"I'm not here to give you a big song and dance. Maybe a song," Joel said, and then he led the audience in a tune based on "Down In New Orleans." In part, the lyrics said, "Come on everybody, take a trip with me, up to Onondaga County, that's where I'll be. Oh, you're going to be a lawyer or an engineer, you can even study music in the college here. With any luck, you'll get a PhD at Syracuse University."

The crowd answered with thunderous applause.

Last fall, Joel gave $320,000 to the university's college of visual and performing arts for music fellowships.

Joel has sold more than 100 million records over last 25 years.