CBS Cuts Off 'Piano Man' Midsong

Network apologizes and says concert will be rerun Friday
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2024 7:30 PM CDT
CBS Cuts Off 'Piano Man' Midsong
Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Viewers of Billy Joel's nationally broadcast concert on Sunday night are well aware that the closing lyrics of "Piano Man" are not "and they sit at the … Action 12 News!" But that's roughly what many of them heard when CBS cut away from the show two minutes early to start local news broadcasts, Deadline reports. After online outrage emerged, the network issued a statement apologizing to Joel and viewers for what it called "a network programming timing error" that it said caused the problem in the Eastern and Central time zones. CBS announced Monday that, "due to the overwhelming demand," the concert will be rerun at 9pm ET Friday.

Viewers had other complaints, including the many commercials and delayed start; the broadcast was held up for a half-hour when coverage of golf's Masters Tournament ran over. And CBS rearranged the songs for "Billy Joel: The 100th—Live at Madison Square Garden." In the actual concert on March 28, "Piano Man" preceded an encore of hits: "We Didn't Start the Fire," "Uptown Girl," "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," and "Big Shot." By the time CBS finished its tweaks, per Rolling Stone, "Piano Man" was the closer, and all of the others but "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" were dropped.

"You couldn't produce a worse product than CBS just did on the Billy Joel special," one viewer's post said. News anchors who had to follow the singer were confused by their abrupt appearance. "I apologize to the people who were enjoying Billy Joel singing on TV then all of a sudden had to see my face," an Ohio anchor posted. Joel's run of more than 10 years at Madison Square Garden wraps up July 25, per USA Today. (More Billy Joel stories.)

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