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Billy Joel: ’The Last Play At Shea’ Concludes HIFF ’SummerDocs’ Series

Originally Posted: August 17, 2010

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Billy Joel is all smiles at the screening of "The Last Play at Shea" at Guild Hall. (Eileen Casey)

East Hampton - The Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF), working in association with Guild Hall, concluded its three-part "SummerDocs" series with a screening of "The Last Play at Shea," featuring music by Billy Joel and narrated by Alec Baldwin.

HIFF Executive Director Karen Arikian and HIFF Director of Programming David Nugent. (Eileen Casey)

Immediately following the screening, Baldwin conducted a question and answer session with the music legend.

"What a great way to celebrate the last in the 'SummerDocs' series with a film about a Long Island native Billy Joel and the New York Mets" said HIFF Executive Director Karen Arikian who introduced the film. Director of Programming, David Nugent, added "We are thrilled to have music legend Billy Joel participate in our program and discuss his history with Shea Stadium."

The intersecting histories of the landmark stadium, a volatile baseball team, and a music legend are examined in the film that charts the ups and downs of the New York Mets and the life and career of Long Island native Joel. Directed by Paul Crowder, the film is set against the backdrop of New York City, early 1960s to present, and the soundtrack of Joel's final Shea concerts in 2008. "The Last Play At Shea," weaves interviews with players and performers with exclusive concert footage - featuring special guests Sir Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, John Mayer, Roger Daltrey, and John Mellencamp, among others. Long time Joel friend and former band mate, Jon Small, directed the concert footage, filmed at each of Joel's sold out Shea Stadium Shows. The concerts are from July 2008, and were the last performances ever to play the historic stadium. Steve Cohen and Nigel Sinclair produced the film in conjunction with Joel's Maritime Pictures and Spitfire Films.

Alec Baldwin who narrated the film gives Joel a few 'tips' on handling the press line. (Eileen Casey)

Shea Stadium was the brainchild of Robert Moses, erected in the hopes of actually drawing the wealthy out of Manhattan and into the suburbs, yet quickly became the home of hard working, middle class citizens who filled the seats "of the dump" (as the stadium was affectionately referred to because it was in fact built on a dump). These spectators came to cheer for a team that at one time held one of the worse records in baseball history. Superstition runs deep among athletes - and the black cat that ran across the field during one game as shown in the film - will long be remembered as an omen that signified the depths that this ball club had to rise from - and they did. Named after William Shea, the stadium was also the original home of the New York Jets.

Rosanna Scotto (left) "Good Day New York" anchor with her sister. (Eileen Casey)

Following the screening, Baldwin and Joel took to the stage where Baldwin and attendees posed questions to Joel.

There is nothing more intriguing than to be a fan observing another fan discourse over the talents of an individual who himself is a fan - all culminating in the acknowledgment of the talents of yet someone else - confusing? - not really - as both Joel and Baldwin alluded to the influence The Beatles had on them. McCartney's appearance with Joel at Shea, bringing along the same guitar and escorted to the field by the same groundskeeper from The Beatles historic appearance in the 1960s, sent chills down everyone's spine, and Joel repeatedly referred to his gratitude to the Liverpool icon for efforts to make the appearance a reality.

The film is a candid, informative look at the tumultuous and sometimes heartbreaking, yet always enriching, careers of not only the baseball team originally culled together by a lawyer no less, but the life and career of one of America's favorite songwriters and performers.

Guild Hall was filled to capacity with fans, including Lorraine Bracco a fellow alumni of Hicksville High School (Joel's alma mater); Bruce Weber; Rosanna Scotto, and Christie Brinkley; as well as fans of the Mets; Baldwin - and of course, Joel.

Christie Brinkley, who appears in the film, attended to show her support. (Eileen Casey)

The historical footage is beautifully interwoven with the tales and evolution of a structure, ball team and a musician that resulted in the demise of only one, and thankfully it was the structure, reminding us that perhaps baseball has been very, very good to us.

The 18th Annual Hamptons International Film Festival will take place over Columbus Day Weekend, October 7 through October 11.

For more information about the upcoming HIFF go to www.hamptonsfilmfest.org.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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Guest (Guest) from reno, nv says::
Don't think Liberty would show up...though it would be great to see him included in the band again. "Billy Joel, What Happened?" Liberty DeVitto speaks out... http://www.cuttingedgerocks.com/sister_f.html - scott
Sep 22, 2010 7:00 pm

Guest (Guest) from sanjose says::
Was lib there ?
Sep 14, 2010 9:24 pm

Guest (Guest) from Southampton says::
Match Game? How about Hollywood Squares?
Sep 11, 2010 7:25 am

Guest (Guest) from dallas, pa says::
i posted the clip of the interview at youtube. punch in keywords joel baldwin guild hampton and watch these two pros banter and have a great time as did the audience.
Sep 8, 2010 1:40 pm

Guest (Guest) from the beach says::
what would you do without billy joel, christie brinkly, kelly ripa, alex baldwin and beth ostrosky. sounds like the new match game line- up.
Sep 7, 2010 2:22 pm

Guest (Guest) from Southampton says::
Billy and Alec look like Shatner and Hyde
Sep 6, 2010 5:54 pm


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