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‘We apologize’: CBS vows to air Billy Joel milestone concert again after ending is cut off

Billy Joel in a suit sitting behind a piano and smiling with a microphone near his face
Billy Joel’s 100th show at Madison Square Garden aired Sunday on CBS. Well, most of it did.
(Evan Agostini / Invision / Associated Press)
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Some Billy Joel fans put the pressure on CBS after it bungled its broadcast of the singer’s Madison Square Garden milestone show over the weekend.

CBS aired “The 100th: Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden” on Sunday evening. The special offered viewers a look inside the celebratory March 28 concert, part of the singer-songwriter’s historic residency at the New York City venue. In the 90-minute special, Joel, 74, performed his multiplatinum hits for thousands of attendees who swayed and bobbed along to his upbeat tunes.

For some at-home-viewers, however, the Sunday broadcast ended a few minutes too early. Specifically, the telecast abruptly cut to black as the New York-born Joel sang the final verse of the night’s final song: “Piano Man.”

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Billy Joel has left the building — almost. The singer’s historic residency at New York City’s Madison Square Garden will come to an end next year.

June 1, 2023

In videos posted on X (formerly Twitter), several viewers shared clips of Joel singing the lyric “and the microphone smells like beer” before the broadcast pivots to local CBS news coverage.

“Daaaang @CBS you didn’t have to do the piano man Billy Joel like that,” singer Sid Kingsley tweeted. “He was just getting to the good part.”

“IDK whose decision it was to cut off the end of the #BillyJoel concert for local news (AFTER starting 30 min late!) but it’s unacceptable,” wrote another fan. “#BillyJoel100 is an iconic moment in history, & all we wanted to do was ‘forget about life for a while’ & you destroyed it. @CBS @cbschicago.”

The broadcast mishap inspired jokes and GIF reactions shading CBS, and prompted some fans to share what other viewers missed. One X user shared concert footage of Joel’s fans singing a capella to “Piano Man,” though it’s unclear whether the video was from the 100th Garden show.

Joel, who performs with Stevie Nicks on Friday at SoFi Stadium, on the inspiration for ‘Piano Man,’ farewell tours and his ‘70s hit he now calls ‘dreary.’

March 8, 2023

In a statement shared with The Times on Monday, CBS said that the controversial cutaway was due to a “programming timing error” and affected broadcasts in the Eastern and Central time zones.

“We apologize to Mr. Joel, his fans, our affiliated stations, and our audience whose viewing experience was interrupted during the last song,” the statement said.

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As a result of the disruption, as well as “overwhelming demand from [Joel’s] legion of fans,” CBS said, it will rebroadcast the singer’s milestone concert “in its entirety” on Friday at 9 p.m. local time.

A representative for Joel did not provide additional comment.

Kicking off a joint tour Friday night, the boomer icons played the hits and remembered a departed friend.

March 12, 2023

Fans hoping to relive the moment before Friday can do so by streaming “The 100th: Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden” in its entirety on Paramount+.

The Grammy winner will end his decade-long Madison Square Garden residency later this year, he announced last June.

“It’s hard to believe that we’ve been able to do this for 10 years,” Joel said during a press conference. “I didn’t know how long it was going to last.”

He added: “I’m now 74, I’ll be 75 next year. Seems like a nice number.”

Since 2014, Joel has performed at the Garden every month. It was a gig that was supposed to continue only until demand fell off. But that never happened.

Joel’s residency will end in July with his 150th lifetime performance at the venue, which has already sold out.

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“There are a lot of venues out there but only one Madison Square Garden,” he said in 2015, “my home away from home.”

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