In 2008, after being part of At the Movies for 12 years, it was announced that film critic Roger Ebert was ending his association with the program. In 2004, Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and subsequent operations left him unable to speak. He still remained involved behind-the-scenes but that came to an end in 2008. His co-host, Richard Roeper also left the program at that time. Disney (who owns the show) tried new hosts but they weren’t successful enough to keep the show going. It was cancelled and the last episode aired last month.
Ebert has maintained that he had plans for a new program, one that would utilize the “thumbs up, thumps down” style of reviewing. That trademark is owned by Ebert and reviewer Gene Siskel’s widow.
He’s now made it official. A new movie review series, Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies, is planned to debut in January. It’ll air on PBS and be produced out of Chicago’s WTTW station. That was the home of Siskel and Ebert’s first show together, Opening Soon at a Theater Near You, in 1975.
The new TV show will be hosted by Christy Lemire, a film critic for The Associated Press, and Elvis Mitchell of National Public Radio. Kim Morgan of Los Angeles and Omar Moore of San Francisco, who both have popular film websites, will act as regular contributors and occasional co-hosts. In addition to mainstream, independent, and classic films, the show will also cover new media and on-demand entertainment.
Ebert will be seen on-screen each week as part of a segment called “Roger’s Office.” He’ll use a computer voice that will simulate his natural voice but he won’t be challenging the new hosts’ opinions. Ebert wrote, “They’ll be awarding the Thumbs, and you can’t have three Thumbs”
At 68, Ebert will co-produce the new show along with his wife, Chaz Ebert. Of the initial filming, she said, “The pilot won a warm reception… Marlene Iglitzen, Gene Siskel’s widow and our dear friend, was on the set when the pilot was taped, and said Gene would be proud that the format he helped create is still working as one of the longest-running in television history.”
Roger Ebert noted, “This is the rebirth of a dream.”
What do you think? Will you tune in to watch Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies? Thumbs up or thumbs down?