Stephen Colbert and more are in New York State of Mind campaign

New york
(Stephen Colbert leads an all-star cast)

Gosh, this makes me want to move back to New York. Beloved New York City actors, singers, choreographers, musicians, television, and late-night hosts have come together to produce a video rendition of Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind to encourage the city’s recovery from the pandemic. It is easily our Reel Ad of the Week.

Conceived and produced by NYCNext, New York State of Mind features Idina Menzel, Stephen Colbert, Sara Bareilles, Cautious Clay, Mario Cantone, Andy Cohen, Chloe Flower, Peppermint, and more with a special appearance and performance by Alexa Ray Joel and more.

The performers were shot in iconic New York City locations such as Birdland (Times Square, Manhattan), the Brooklyn Museum (Crown Heights, Brooklyn), Columbia University (Morningside Heights, Manhattan), La Casita de Chema (Bronx), Maimonides Park (Coney Island, Brooklyn), NYU (Greenwich Village, Manhattan), Open Jar Studios (Times Square, Manhattan), Red Hook Winery (Red Hook, Brooklyn), Russ & Daughters (Lower East Side, Manhattan), Steinway & Sons Factory (Ditmars Steinway, Queens), Tom’s Restaurant (Upper West Side, Manhattan), and the Wonder Wheel (Coney Island, Brooklyn), among many others.

“Our goal with this project is to create a collective movement of New York City pride. We want to celebrate our artists as well as the city we love and inspire everyone to step in and support NYC in whichever way works for them,” said Maryam Banikarim, co-founder of NYCNext. “This all-volunteer movement is a testament to the power of New Yorkers — creative, passionate do-ers who step in to help each other and their city when the going gets tough.”

World-renowned Grammy award-winning performer, singer-songwriter, musician, humanitarian and native New Yorker Billy Joel lent the organization the rights and permissions to use his iconic New York State of Mind song to support the project.

All artists featured in the film donated their time, voices, and talent to the project, each proud to display their passion for the city that never sleeps.

The film itself encourages viewers to join the movement by visiting NYCNext.org, which lists dozens of ways New Yorkers can get involved, by supporting our community of artists, local businesses and restaurants, and many more.

And there’s no other way to put it – they sing the shit out of the classic. Watch below:


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Said singer-songwriter, actress, author, and producer Sara Bareilles: “To sing Billy Joel’s iconic song alongside my community members at a time when the city needs us all was so meaningful to me. I’m so grateful this project came to life in such a big way.”

“I’ve always loved ‘New York State of Mind,’ and as a New Yorker myself, bringing together all of my favorite singers, artists, and musicians to collaborate on this inspiring film was a dream of a lifetime,” said Tom Kitt, who co-conceived the project and is a multi-award-winning composer and musician, as well as a founding member of NYCNext and MUSE.

“It was an epic undertaking, the equivalent of shooting 25 different music videos for one film. We wanted to show the diversity and beauty of all five boroughs. Our shared vision with NYCNext and Tom Kitt, who were the perfect collaborators, was for each artist to wake NYC from its slumber and breathe life back into the city by singing this anthemic song. I hope the heart and confidence behind these performances will inspire audiences to do their part to give back in whichever ways they can,” said Emmy Award-winning Founder and Executive Creative Director of Brooklyn-based, creative production company Smartypants and NYCNext Founding Member Joshua Seftel, who directed the film.

“My team at Smartypants loves telling underdog stories and we felt we could do justice to something as iconic as ‘New York State of Mind’. It’s a song that was written in the 70s to pick NYC up when the city was struggling and was used again as an anthem after 9/11. This seemed like the perfect time to bring it back around. There’s a timeless quality about the piece. It survives and continues on, just like NYC.”

“This is an incredible love letter to NYC from an impressive cross-section of our arts and entertainment community, who have consistently shown up to give their time, creativity, and talents in support of our beloved city in times of crisis,” said the Commissioner Anne del Castillo of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. “We appreciate the dedication of NYCNext in spearheading this collective ‘New York State of Mind’ effort to connect New Yorkers and others to ways they can assist in the City’s recovery.”

The piece will roll out across a host of NYC channels from now through year-end, such as taxi cabs, iHeartRadio, NYC’s homecoming concerts (as part of the New York Stock Exchange’s outdoor events at Experience Square), along with additional local venues and media outlets. It follows the A Moment For Broadway and The Met at The Met pop-up events, which were also co-developed and filmed by Smartypants.

This project was made possible by many partners, including Edelman, MUSE, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, NYC & Company, NuRide Transportation Group, Our Man in Havana, Partnership for New York City, Reed Smith LLP, SAG-AFTRA, Smartypants, as well as Universal Music.

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Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at colin@reel360.com or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1

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