After the year Roger Ebert has had, it’s no surprise that he’s getting a chance to spearhead the comeback of his storied public TV review show At the Movies. In February, a moving Esquire profile chronicled Ebert’s struggles with cancer, which resulted in the removal of his jaw and loss of the ability to speak, eat or smell. Still, the legendary movie critic has persevered, bringing his all-around goodness to generations old and new through his involvement on Twitter and even penning a cook book. But when the Disney-produced version of the show pioneered by Ebert and Gene Siskel ended in mid-August, it seemed like an era was finally ending. Not so fast, says Ebert:
“Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies,” a weekly half-hour film review program, was announced today by its producers, Chaz and Roger Ebert. The program continues the 35-year-old run of a reviewing format first introduced by Gene Siskel and Ebert and later by Ebert and Richard Roeper.
The full release is here, and includes the following history lesson:
It will return to its birthplace, launching nationally on public television with presenting station WTTW Chicago, where it began in 1975 as “Opening Soon at a Theater Near You” and then in 1976 as “Sneak Previews,” became the highest rated entertainment show in PBS history. The original format moved into syndication as “At the Movies” in 1982 with Tribune Entertainment and a quarter-century with Buena Vista Television.
And, of course, no offense to the imitators, but Ebert knows best:
With a salute to Michael Phillips and A. O. Scott, co-hosts for the final season of the Disney-produced show and another to Richard Roeper, his co-host for six years, Ebert said, “I believe that by returning to its public roots, our new show will win better and more consistent time slots in more markets. American television is swamped by mindless gossip about celebrities, and I’m happy this show will continue to tell viewers honestly if the critics think a new movie is worth seeing.”
But as if that wasn’t enough good news for Ebert fans, he’s not forgetting the group that has brought him his most recent incarnations of success: “in addition to reviewing new movies will expand into coverage of New Media.”