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See you at the movies

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     redbox.jpgYes, Chaz and I are still going ahead with our plans for a new movie review program on television. No, Wednesday's cancellation of "At the Movies" hasn't discouraged us. We believe a market still exists for a weekly show where a couple of critics review new movies.


I can't prove it, but I have the feeling that more different people are seeing more different movies than ever before. With the explosion of DVD, Netflix, Red Box, and many forms of Video on Demand,

virtually all movies are easily available to virtually all North American moviegoers. This has created a huge potential audience. When people tell me how many titles they have in their Netflix queues, I reflect that until recent years they'd be telling me how many movies never even played in their town.


I can't reveal details about the talks we're deeply involved in. I can say that the working title was "Roger Ebert presents Fill in Words Here," and that it has now become "Roger Ebert presents At the Movies." Gene Siskel and I started using that title way back in 1980, when we left PBS for Tribune Broadcasting. I can also say the Thumbs will return.


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I can also say that we held video tests with several potential hosts two weeks ago in Los Angeles, and know who we will use. We also know we will have a strong web presence. We will go full-tilt New Media: Television, net streaming, cell phone apps, Facebook, Twitter, iPad, the whole enchilada. The disintegration of the old model creates an opening for us. I'm more excited than I would be if we were trying to do the same old same old. I've grown up with the internet. I came aboard back when MCI Mail was the e-mail of choice. I had a forum on CompuServe when it ruled the web. My web site and blog at the Sun-Times site have changed the way I work, and even the way I think. When I lost my speech, I speeded up instead of slowing down.

We'll also go New Cinema. Not just the One Weekend Wonders, although you gotta have 'em, but indie films, foreign films, documentaries, restored classics, the new Herzog, the new Bahrani, the new Almodovar. What's new on Instant Streaming. What great movies should everyone see? Hey, Paramount just announced $1 million for ten $100,000 movies. Those kinds of films. What kind of a real movie lover cares who has the "exclusive" first trailer in the newest extrusion of the "Transformer" franchise? It's time to smarten up.


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It isn't only "At the Movies" that died Wednesday. It was whole genre of television. We thought of it as a movie review program. The television industry thought of it as a half-hour weekly syndicated show. Those are shows sold market-by-market and usually placed in a weekend time slot. The first time Siskel and I attended NAPTE, the annual trade show of syndication, there were so many shows they jammed the floor of the Convention Center in New Orleans. Wolfgang Puck flew in to cater private dinners. We were approach by "Fishin' Fever" and asked if we wanted to be Celebrity Guest Anglers.

"At the Movies" was one of the last survivors of half-hour syndication. It didn't fail so much as have its format shot out from beneath it. Don't blame Disney. Don't blame Tony Scott and Michael Phillips, the final co-hosts, critics I admire who still have five months left on the air. Don't blame Ben Mankiewicz. Don't blame my pal Richard Roeper, who didn't fancy following the show in a "new direction." Don't blame the cancer that forced me off the show. Don't even blame Ben Lyons. He was the victim of a mistaken hiring decision.

Blame the fact that five-day-a-week syndicated shows like "Wheel of Fortune" went to six days. Blame the fact that cable TV and the internet have fragmented the audience so much that stations are losing market share no matter what they do. Blame the economy, because many stations would rather sell a crappy half-hour infomercial than program a show they respect. Blame the fact that everything seems to be going to hell in a hand basket.


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Chaz and I will produce the show. Yes, I'd like to make occasional appearances on the air. I'm not foolish enough to believe any form of back-and-forth debate is possible, but I could do Great Movies segments, or a wrap-up from Cannes or Toronto. With all the publicity about me "getting my voice back," some people have the idea that a computer program has magically allowed me to speak again. That will never happen. I type, and the words come out. No one can type fast enough for conversational repartee. With the new software from Edinburgh the words will come out sounding like me. That's huge. It will work well on the new show in voice-over narration of TV packages.

There has been a fragmentation of movie watching. Theatrical distribution is now dominated by the big-budget, heavily marketed 3-D of the Week. Such films have a success utterly independent of critics. Like junk food, they're consumed by habit and may be filling but are high in cinematic sugar and fat. The consumers of that product don't think of a movie as an investment of two hours of their lives.

When the New York Times put an interactive Netflix map online, allowing me to search by zip code and see what my neighbors were renting, the top title was "Milk," followed by such as "The Wrester," "Slumdog Millionaire," "Doubt" and "Rachel Getting Married." Think about that. Good movies. "Transformers 2" was nowhere to be seen. ("Milk," in case you're wondering, was first or second in most Chicago zip codes, not just mine.)


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Those are the kinds of people who might want to watch a movie review program. Our show will try to reach people who think before they watch a movie, and value their time, and their minds. Does that sound like a pitch? Probably. I think it's also a business plan.

I've written before about my adventures as a movie critic on TV. I've said what I have to say. Was I sad today when "At the Movies" was cancelled? You bet I was. I received a nice phone call from two of the Disney executives in charge, who had been aboard since Day One, and that was a kindness. Week in and week out since 1980, Disney produced a weekly movie review program, and to my certain knowledge never once tried to influence the reviews of any its their movies. When Rich Frank was president of the Disney Studios, at speeches he'd even show video clips of Siskel and I trashing some of his films. I think he felt a certain pride in our independence.

Under all those years under Michael Eisner and Bob Iger, that never changed. We got support. We made friends. It was a long, strange trip for Gene and myself, Richard, Michael, Tony, Ben and Ben and all of our co-hosts. One of the show's guest co-hosts, Kim Morgan, tweeted Wednesday night that it was an "honor" to sit in the chair. I replied, "It was the chair that was honored." Doing that show is harder than it may seem. But I can tell you this: It's every bit as much fun as it looks like.

For years we closed with, "The balcony is closed." Before that it was, "See you at the movies." That's the right note to end on.

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

134 Comments

I think that is the right attitude. For a wide variety of reasons, I am not surprised that the news today of the show's cancellation was a sad one, especially for you, Chaz, and a whole host of other hosts the show had over the years. It made me sad, too.

But, the future is bright. The show, as they say, will go on. And it will evolve. For such a huge fan of Darwin as you, that can only be a good thing.

Good luck!

On a day when a notable filmmaker's words regarding film criticism filled me with anger and disdain, this blog entry soothed me and brought me back down to earth. Looking forward to "At the Movies," no matter what incarnation it may assume.

My vote is for Kim Morgan to be a host on this upcoming project! The "severed heads are beautiful" episode was just great.

Also, thanks for sharing your passion for movies! I grew up watching At The Movies and I'm glad you're blogging.

Heartening news to hear! I've grown up with your show, since it was on PBS and followed it and you throughout the decades since. You have consistently delivered quality criticism mixed with entertainment and never disappointed. That you have not only moved along with the times but in fact have evolved and thrived as well makes me happy, despite the dual dismays of Gene's passing and your health problems. Yes, there is always room for quality and your past, current and future fans will continue to be hungry for it. Thanks for being there.

I hope the end of At the Movies doesn't signal that there is no room for a serious movie review show on TV. I wish your new show, Mr. Ebert, all the luck. You can count me in as a viewer.

Will Richard Roeper be apart of the new show?

I look forward to the return of the thumbs!

the scorsese one where he picks his fav films from the 90s is my favorite. at the movies influenced me so much it was just a pleasure hearing two people speak about films passionately with grace and intelligence. still to this day i wish i had the ability to express myself the way you always could. sad day indeed but it was a great run. ps, it IS ben lyons' fault...grr

I look forward to "Roger Ebert Presents..."!

See you at the movies!

While I can understand some of the reasons behind this event, and while the show has never been the same without you, I feel very sad about this. The show was an important part of my movie education and it came in at just the right time for me - when I was old enough to start getting myself into trouble with ill-formed and poorly articulated opinions about movies, and needed some intelligent mentoring. (I went on to pursue a PhD in film studies.)

There certainly is space for the kind of "At the Movies" show/new media thing you describe, and you can sign me up as a fan already. But I also find myself hoping that it won't detract you from your writing, which as I have gotten older and more educated (jaded? intelligent? cynical? sophisticated? degenerate?) has been my touchstone for intelligent comment on movies. While there are now a few other sensible, sensitive and articulate film critics - Anthony Lane at The New Yorker, a couple of writers for The New York Times, Mark Kermode in England and the Sight & Sound crowd - you stand out for the depth of your knowledge and the effortless intelligence of your writing.

Keep it up.

Roger, if you tell us the TV show is good, we'll be watching.

Very excited to see what's been come up with, and even more excited to see that you're embracing the "new media". As someone who has probably seen 90 percent of films I've watched through Netflix, it's great to see an appreciation for that program and the opportunities it's created.

I'm saddened by the death of At the Movies, but, to be honest, not entirely surprised. Networks are obsessed with making everything "new" and "fresh", so I figured it was only a matter of time before it was canceled.

There is definitely still a market. Here in the UK we still get the weekly film show on BBC currently hosted by Jonathan Ross, but it’s been running since 1971 and people still watch it despite its late night time slot. If people didn’t watch it the BBC would have ended it a long time ago.

I look forward to watching the new show hopefully through net streaming when it comes about.

You really are an inspiration, and I'm glad that you're one of the newspapermen who was able to grok and survive the transition to the "new media." I can't wait to see what this new thing of yours will be.

Good luck with the new program, whoever may be hosting it. I've been a follower of yours (and the show's) for a while, and while I'm sad that it's going, you still have your own outlet for reviews.

I love the idea that you will be educating viewers on non-major cinema. I really hope, that no matter who you have as hosts, that you get quality guests, such as Dargis, to show up and help inform people. I know I'd watch the show every week if it was something beyond 'I like this movie...' but actually educated and informed me. I'd love segments on avant-garde films (which Dargis would probably be one of the best out there to do a discussion on), because honestly, I know so little about it.

Be very neat if you also brought in some of the 'web critics' that have proven themselves. It will make for good TV and for good Web publicity.

I know that even if this doesn't get a TV spot, it will still end up on the Web (and honestly, what's the difference?). Best wishes.


p.s. It won't be long before you won't have to type to 'speak', just a little microchip placed in the brain will be all that is necessary, if one is willing.

Netflix is the best thing to happen to movielovers who live in markets whose idea of diversity is having Transformers 2 on ten screens instead of two. Since subscribing several years ago, I've been able to finally "discover" Herzog, Sturges, Ford, and many, many other filmmakers whose work I'd never seen.

While I do enjoy some aspects of the Rotten Tomatoes show, in the end it is mostly just people with a web cam pretending to be critics. Good film criticism, as At the Movies proved, is so much more than an opinion and that's one reason why I really hope your new show happens. The other reason is I grew up in a rural area and, outside of major releases, we didn't get independent movies or art house movies or (shock!) foreign movies. At the Movies introduced me to a larger cinematic world. I remember vividly seeing a review of "The Long Good Friday" as a kid and saying "I have to see that." Of course, it took me years to finally getting around to seeing it but that's how it was in small towns, pre-internet.

Best of luck on this show.

John

Roger, I'm starting to smell a screenplay about Siskel and Ebert, the TV show, Siskels death, your losing your speech and your "rebirth" etc ?

Sounds like a fascinating movie to see !

Or do you already have it in the works ?

"I can also say that we held video tests with several potential hosts two weeks ago in Los Angeles, and know who we will use."

One man, one woman?

First of all let me say I am eagerly awaiting the new show. And next let me say your video of the openings of your shows brought back such memories. But to me your show about Citizen Kane brought back the most memories. I remember watching that show when it was first broadcast and it started my lifelong love of the movie Citizen Kane. Thanks for the great memories.

Seeing the Sneak Previews intro takes me back. You guys reviewed movies that never had a prayer of coming to my little Texas town, but knowing they were out there gave me a real curiosity about films--and the world. Thanks!

I share your excitement Roger! I have to consult so many sources these days for good movie info- Rotten Tomatoes, local show times, new to Netflix, new streaming on Netflix, your great movie list, upcoming Criterion releases, etc... and I still miss a ton of great stuff.

For instance, at the end of this blog I thought you were going to post Ramin Bahrani's Plastic Bag, narrated by Herzog. Perfect example of something I never would have seen if it was made ten years ago.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDBtCb61Sd4

Some of my friends playfully criticize me for watching too much TV. I counter that I hardly watch any TV, I watch movies on TV. Everybody knows what I'm talking about when I say that. Movies are hearty, TV is tripe. If this catches on, it could revolutionize what people are willing to accept for entertainment.

Those intros were really wonderful. Sounds like you're well on your way to catching lightening in a bottle again.

This is a shame, but you're right. I won't blame anyone but the changing times and cheer you on in this new endeavor.

Perhaps you can go the Cleveland Browns' route. The current Browns are an expansion team that was able to import its history, records, etc. from its predecessor, which spares us the indignity of seeing Jim Brown retroactively become a Baltimore Raven.

So in that spirit, let's not say "At the Movies" is dead. Let's just say it's going to be reborn as a new entity with a glorious history.

Wow! I was not aware that "At The Movies" had been cancelled. I have been watching this show, in its various incarnations, since 1980. My youngest son, currently nine years old, has developed a love for the movies and he and I faithfully watch this show every week together. It has been a good opportunity to discuss the different genres of film with him and to hear what his opinions are of the reviews and the films. He has also been able to develop his own criticisms of movies that we watch and to be able to discuss the films on different levels. He has been able to apply these same abilities to the books that he reads as well. He also loves to write, and I have been encouraging him to write his own reviews because maybe he could be a movie critic as well.

The program went beyond "entertainment" that was meant to fill a half-hour time slot on television. This show helped all of us who watched it to be able to look at the movies with a better perspective. I really hope that you are able to get your show on the air, Roger, because I am not only going to miss my favorite show, but quality time with my son as well.

"It's time to smarten up." I couldn't agree more. What I love about your blog, reviews and this idea is the premise that their is an audience that wants to be challenged. It seems so many other places I turn now there is a contiual dumbing down and certain people wear their refusal to think like a badge. I can't wait for the new show!

I am truly sad to hear about the cancellation of a show that I've been a fan of for over 20 years. I will miss it. But I'm excited to hear about your plan for a new program, I really look forward to it.

Just to echo your observation, Netflix, especially with a fast growing list of movies on Instant Watch, has really made it easier than ever to watch movies. I live in a small town where there is only one small multiplex which shows only the most mainstream movies. So I have to rely on something like Netflix. In fact, my goal is to watch and blog 365 films this year (wish me luck!). This would have been impossible in the not too distant past, not to mention prohibitively expensive.

All in all, I'd like to thank you for At the Movies. The show certainly made a huge impression on me during my college years, and not only led me to eventually study film and screenwriting in graduate school, but has also made me a lifelong movie fan. :)

Roger,

Good luck and welcome back, if you need a Military Movie Advisor I'm your man. Love the picture of you and Gene Siskel, I had forgotten about his sweet "Porn 'Stache".

What a sad day. I feel like I'm losing a best friend. Do you know if the online archive will still exist after the show ends?

Best of luck with the new program. The market for a movie review show most definitely exists with this viewer.

I remember the first episode of "At the Movies" I ever watched. It was July of 1997 and Siskel & Ebert were reviewing "Air Force One" and "Good Burger".

Ebert: I can remember Gene chanting, "Welcome to Good Burger! How may I help you?"

"At the Movies" with you and Gene was one of my favorite programs growing up. No offense to later hosts, but there was never such comaraderie as between you two, and never a finer range of opinions about the art. I'm sad to see the show go as well (and lamenting the current state of television programming) but I'm so excited to see what's next. Bring on the New Media, and thank you for widening the net film-wise. Best of luck!

Oh..my...goodness. Growing up in the south suburbs in the late 70's and early 80's, I watched that show on WTTW. I had forgotten that great opening music! The woozy horns, the goofy circus music, the names on the candy boxes. Best of all, the coin-op "non-carbonated grape", which I only now notice changed to "grape" the second time (continuity was less important in those days, I guess).

What would a young, intelligent lad in the suburbs have done without good local TV like "Sneak Previews" and "Son Of Svengoolie"?

Roger, I am deeply sorry for the cancelation of the show. I started watching it on Sunday afternoons when I was in 8th grade. I am now almost 22 and though I have not been able to watch on Sunday afternoons as much, I still try to catch the show on the web. I read your reviews and blogs weekly as well. Your show is what really made me realize that I love movies. I would see all of these movies that my friends didn't get or said they hated because it made them think, and that really made me wonder if I was crazy for liking them. But I knew I could always tune into your show and see that at least one of the hosts felt the same way as I did about a particular movie. I will continue to follow you on the web and watch what ever program you decide to put on TV next. You truly are my inspiration when it comes to watching and loving film. Thank you.

Very exciting project from the sounds of it Roger. I can't wait to see it. Best of luck!

BTW I've had 500 in my Netflix Queue regularly since 2001... :)

Good luck with the new venture, Roger. I believe that there is indeed a market for the type of show you describe. I am probably not a typical viewer though I'm sure I'll watch your new show -- I obsessively read film reviews, even for films I know I'll never see. I'm more likely tuned to TCM than any of the networks.

We're lucky in Boston to still have a few art house venues and even the occasional DVD rental store (I cherish the one in my neighborhood for its deep selection -- it allows for serendipitous rentals that aren't as possible with Netflix until its full catalog is available for streaming).

Informed, opinionated critical voices are essential as our viewing options multiply. Thanks for continuing to move forward!

If "At the Movies" is cancelled, what will happen to their wonderful website? Will they maintain all the reviews with videos from episodes past? If not, will they let a certain venerable movie critic with a great website and blog have them?

Dear Roger;

If anyone can pull it off it's you. I certainly would watch a review program such as the one you describe.

In my area "At the Movies" airs after midnight on Saturday or Sunday afternoon too late to matter for the weekend. I hope you find a way to deliver the program on Thursdays.

The only thing I would add is reviewing significant TV productions. I would love to hear your take on Spielberg/Hanks "The Pacific", that new Spartacus series or "Life" for example.

As for your new voice program I'll bet there is a way of phonetically spelling words that will fine tune the pronunciation for a smoother more life like reading.

Bonne chance.

Will the online version of "At the Movies" still be available? It is a joy to watch all of those old reviews and I would hope that they will still be online despite the show being off the air.

Boy, you publish these late at night. I'm happy you are working on a show that will branch out beyond theaters. My growing disdain for theaters has forced me to seek movies elsewhere. You have found a viewer in me, and not just because I'm your fan, but because it fits me perfectly.

Also, if the somebodies you are speaking with about the show doubt the internet's relevance to tv, Nielson Company found that the Internet and all it's content has caused tv viewership to increase. I'd provide a link if I had it.

I'll be looking forward to your new endeavor. Where on television do you envision it, since syndication doesn't seem like a good model anymore?

Just wondering, but is the set for the new show going to resemble the old "At The Movies" set with the railings, etc.?

Hurry up, Roger.
I've been watching you/your show/the later incarnation(s) of your show since the beginning--1975.
The first thing I thought when I read the news this morning is: now where am I going to go?
Where, to get cogent reviews from reliable people.
This has been such a constant in many people's lives (like mine) that I don't want to panic at its loss. Even Ben & Ben weren't great, but at least they were there.
How about by September?

Good luck with the new project. I admit I am intrigued to hear your voice again.

And I know who I would like as one of the hosts of the new program. I can't recall her name, but she sort of came of in 'third' when the show was looking for someone after the loss of Gene. You used to do split-screen triples with her (which was very ugly on the eyes, sorry), but then she disappeared. She was great: had smarts, sass and yes, looks. Two white guys with glasses (speaking as one) doesn't cut it anymore.

Ebert: The wonderful MIchaela Pereira co-anchors the Morning Show on KTLA- Los Angeles. I spotted her hosting on the cable channel TechTV, where she ad libbed effortlessly about some fairly complicated high tech stuff. She is so good.

First, thanks for all the amazing content from a new member of the Club.

Second, this post makes me think of an idea that's been bugging me for a while now. Rotten Tomatoes provides links to 100+ movie reviews, many written by insightful critics with loads to say about the movies. That means there are dozens and dozens if not hundreds of essays published each week about each movie that comes out, none of which allow themselves to address any major plot points or spoilers.

Clearly there is value in that sort of essay, but I often find myself wanting to read a critical essay about a movie AFTER seeing it, where the entire plot of the movie can be discussed in as much detail as required to draw insight from it. Think of the difference between your Dark City commentary track as opposed to your Dark City review. Sure, I can get some of that in the occasional blog post or whatnot, but the ratio of spoiler-free reviews to movie criticism has to be 25:1. Further, the rare plot-informed essays are not easily found ala Rotten Tomatoes for the spoiler-free kind.

Is there a source for the kind of criticism I'm seeking? I understand that a newspaper or TV program like the original At the Movies doesn't want to turn off half the audience by giving spoilers, but perhaps your new show (particularly the web component) could do some of that. On the web of course, interested viewers could watch whenever they wanted- i.e., after they had seen the movie if that was the sort of piece in question.

OK, thanks for letting me get that off my chest, and thanks for all the blog posts and tweets!

You're right that Netflix and Redbox are a blessing. My local library also has free "classic" DVDs available--it took them many years to finally crack and not charge $2.50 to take them out. It interests me that their list of "classic" movies includes items like THE JERK.

Re your quote:

When the New York Times put an interactive Netflix map online, allowing me to search by zip code and see what my neighbors were renting...

Could you provide a link? I'm dying to know what my neighbors watch, and I couldn't find the map on the Times website.

Eagerly awaiting any critical film show you produce!

"We go to the movies for many reasons: to think, or not to think," wrote Timothy Corrigan in "A Short Guide to Writing about Film." Glad to get your reasons to see, or not to see, those two sorts of movies and more.

Go Roger and Chaz!! I will definitely watch this.

Roger, I'm planning to buy a Roku Internet streaming device as soon as my fourth-grade-teacher wife is done with the year and our day-care expenses come out of the stratosphere.

I know the Roku allows a person to stream more than Netflix. Would your show be available there or is it too soon to know?

Current Netflix obsession: The films of Jean Pierre Melville.

Dave

What you write about Rich Frank showing clips of you and Gene trashing some of the studio's movies is remarkable. I can't fathom that would happen nowadays. It seems to me that studios have significant contempt for critics and would love if the whole industry would simply go away.

I have written this here before, but for my entire life, At the Movies has been one of my favorite shows - something I looked forward to every week, even when I was very young. It made the idea of movies more exciting. That they were to be taken seriously, but also to be enjoyed. I can still recall the old intro signaling to me that I was parked in front of the TV for the next half-hour.

Now with the internet, the concept of movie reviewing is completely fragmented. Everyone can have a movie review website, and all opinions are valid. On my blog, I started a series of back-and-forth e-mail reviews with a friend, and it has quickly become one of the more popular features. At a high level, we're just copying you and Gene, but of course with our own (somewhat goofy) approach.

My main point is that intelligent criticism is necessary. Perhaps it is less crucial for the film industry than for, say, politics (though that ship has already sailed, I'm afraid). I am sure that the movie industry would love to keep all the bloggers and critics as small fish in the big pond. But if you can give At the Movies a reboot and create something successful, anyone who loves great movies is going to benefit.

In sum, I wish you all the luck you may need for this endeavor, for totally selfish reasons.

I'm really excited to see your new show- I'll probably watch via whatever internet streaming mechanism you use.

I look forward to many thoughtful reviews. And if you happen to make the occasional guest appearance... even better!

Living in Iowa, your show was a window to the other possibilities, the other worlds we couldn't see in our local chain theaters. The list of things I want to see is extensive, thanks to you.

And thanks to Netflix, that world is opening up.

You should take great pride in what you offered all of your faithful viewers.

Does anything on television match that service today?

Re the third photo down. I never knew you reviewed movies with Groucho Marx. That must have been a helluva show.

I always enjoyed ATM and its various incarnations. Even the Ben's era(more for Mankiewicz) But most of my viewing was done via the net. It was always on too late. Still good luck with the new show I will certainly be watching one way or another.

Oh and regarding the point of more people renting Milk instead of Transformers 2. Something tells me that people who liked Transformers 2 likely bought it.

I don't know if your new format will allow it, but could you please find a place for reviewing movies from the silent era? I think more exploration of this part of movie history is worth while. A fair number of these movies were remarkable and not at all what the public thinks these movies are about - stiff acting, grand hokey gestures, ect. D.W.Griffith's "Broken Blossoms" blew me away with its depiction of child abuse, then there is King Vidor's "The Crowd" and a stunning film (my personal favorite), "The Goddess" (Shennu)staring the great Chinesse actress Ruan Ling-Yu. I don't know why it was made as a silent since it came out in 1934, but its well worth a look. Good luck with the new venture.

Michael Phillips & A.O Scott were the perfect replacement hosts. If its not too late, they really should be the people to lead the new show.

As part of your going "full-tilt New Media," I hope you look into making "Roger Ebert presents At the Movies" available on the Roku Digital Video Player, either as its own channel or as a title available on an existing channel.

This is fantastic news, and I am very much looking forward to it. Best wishes with this exciting new project from one of your (lurking) fans!

This is both sad news and great news.

All good things must come to an end, yet sad events can empower us to embark in new directions.

Roger, my thanks to you and all of your co-hosts & production colleagues for keeping this kind of film discussion alive.

---Ryan, Illinois native

With a steno machine and the proper training, a person can type in excess of 200 wpm and currently a computer can translate steno into text as quickly as the operator types it, at least at rough draft quality.

Given that steno is typing by sound, I would think a program could be written (if it hasn't already been) that would translate steno into voice quite easily (I know software exists that translates voice into steno). Perhaps it would be possible to have real-time conversations.

Is anyone working on this?

I wish you good luck on this new venture. I think an iPhone/iPad app could be big if done properly. All your reviews, essays and Answer Man questions plus some video could make a tempting package. Price it around $2-$5 and it is in the impulse buying range.

Thank you Roger. Your reviews, tweets and blog are truly daily highlights. I have been listening to and reading your words since the early 80's. Now at 46 years old, I realize how essential and, well, familiar you are to me. I greatly respect and admire you. Here's wishing you much health and continued success. The thought of experiencing a new At The Movies just brightened my day.

I was saddened when I heard about the cancellation yesterday, but I am incredibly excited for the new project. I'll be watching as Michael and Tony finish up their run. They have done a wonderful job, giving the show the dignity and intelligence that it deserves and has always had.

What a sad day indeed. I began watching your show on PBS when I was about eight years old, and have followed it through all it permutations. (I still miss the dog of the week!) I thank you and Siskel for helping me develop into an informed movie watcher and film lover. I have also followed you on the web for nearly two decades (has it really been that long???!!!!). I wish you luck in your new venture, and look forward to hearing your new/old voice commenting on films once again.

Roger should partner with Redbox to do mini-reviews of movies that we can watch right at the Kiosk. I know I would be more likely to rent or not rent a movie based on his recommendation.

Roger, I go all the way back to the 70s with you! Looking forward to this next step. I was sad this morning when I read the news, but seeing those old show intros and hearing your news has certainly turned things around.

I used to love watching that show every weekend with my parents.

As soon as this new show goes on the air, you can count on my committed viewership. I am so excited!

RIP a fantastic show. I wish I'd been able to watch it more frequently but such things can't be helped with limited TV access during school afar from home. I'll always remember "At the Movies" as the show that perked my passion for discussion and debate about movies, how as a kid my brothers and I remembered you and Gene Siskel parodied in the show "Animaniacs" and giggled at your respective caricatures.

Though you've stated not to blame Lyons or the Disney executive who hired him, part of me can't fully forgive the decision that was a direct insult against the general intelligence of the younger generation I am apart of – then again, it's reflective of how one executive felt, not everyone of them. I wonder when this Hollywood junk food of 3D will cease and when studios will realize that in the end, people would rather have good films. I predict the 3D obsession and wider distribution of indies/foreign films will trademark the upcoming 2010 to 2019 decade.

I say this only from personal experience: from what I remember, the '90s were marked by the Disney renaissance and increasing CGI as demonstrated by "The Matrix,"; the '00s were dominated by an influx of computer-animated films and blockbusters inspired by comic books, toys even.

I'd suppose after a decade or X number of years people will eventually realize how much crap Hollywood has fed them. In the meantime, thanks to the Internet and distributors like Netflix, people unfazed by the 3D craze will be able to view indies and foreign films much more easily regardless of what their local multiplex is showing.

That's why I also share the same hope and faith that your show will do well and that regardless of the current Hollywood junk being dished out, true cinephiles will continue to thrive while trends will extinguish and become extinct soon after their shiny ball syndrome becomes dull.

Thank you for all the years of wonderful syndication. You, Gene Siskel and all alike have inspired to maintain my independent thought and strong stance for my love of movies.

Unfortunately I can't watch you any more, but I still listen to you.


Thanks for watching all those bad movies so I didn't have to.

Go Roger Go! (That's a blessing I've given a mere 4 or 5 friends in life, who got on a very significant roll.) The sheer energy of your thoughts convinces me you're exactly right, even if I didn't know what "a movie" was. Can't wait to see who you've put in the chairs. So, this:

There has been a fragmentation of movie watching. Theatrical distribution is now dominated by the big-budget, heavily marketed 3-D of the Week. Such films have a success utterly independent of critics. Like junk food, they're consumed by habit and may be filling but are high in cinematic sugar and fat. The consumers of that product don't think of a movie as an investment of two hours of their lives.

Yeah, huh? I'm happy with a big fat Twinkie movie now and then -- Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland was that for me (Catt and I agreed, it didn't need 3D at all). We now watch the more impression-making -- or nourishing -- ones in bed.

So the closer into the home you get, literally and figuratively, the more it's going to work.

I miss SNEAK PREVIEWS! sigh

I can't wait to see your new show, and I think you're right that tying the show with new media (which is how people are now used to seeking out reviews) is the key. Good luck!

I'm honestly shocked "At the Movies" lasted as long as it did. Two middle-aged white guys sitting around, talking about obscure movies, doesn't scream big audiences.

And don't get me wrong. I loved the show and watched it every week for decades - I'm just surprised it was on the air for so long. It survived Siskel's untimely passing, and your debilitating ailment. It survived all competition (including "Hot Ticket" and "Reel Talk"), and the online revolution.

I'm sad to see it go.

Also, Redbox and Blockbuster Express are great because they're cheap, convenient, and have most of the new releases. But their selections are necessarily horrid. Dozens of options - at best - none in black and white, and none in a language other than English.

And finally, and this is totally unrelated, have you read that new book about John Hughes and the Brat Pack films yet? It's called "You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried", and I enjoyed it thoroughly. But more importantly, reading it made me nostalgic for the Chicago of the 1980s. It was a time when Hughes, Ditka, Washington, a young Oprah, and yes, you and Gene Siskel really put Chicago on the map. Reading that book made me nostalgic for that bygone era. Hughes, Washington, and Siskel are gone, Oprah's ending her show, and Ditka's no longer coaching. I'm so glad that even though the show you created has been cancelled, your career continues, and you've become more vital than ever.

I plan to watch every episode, and when the first season of your show comes out on DVD, I'll definitely be adding it to my Netflix que. I haven't been this excited about television progamming in some time. I have no doubt that there still exists a massive audience for intellectual cinematic discourse.

And only one more journal entry before Glenn Beck gets shoved off your landing page. That's progress!

I hope there are retrospective film discussions for people who have already seen a movie. Analytic television episode recaps have been very successful on the Internet, but there's nothing like that for movies yet really. If you had critics discussing films without having to worry about spoilers, that could make for some interesting and informative TV.

You should be proud of this legacy, Roger (not Mr. Ebert, per your recent tweet), as you turned on many young lovers of film to the power of criticism (including myself). I'm pretty sure I got my taste for debate from you and Siskel - even as a child, my favorite moments of the show were when you disagreed, finding a balance between making your case passionately and respectfully. You guys invented the format, and nobody ever did it better.

The show will be missed. It's not like we can pay attention to the critics on E! or any other show.

Good luck on the new show. I guess the audience is more fragmented, but hopefully there are still people out there who can appreciate both Citizen Kane and 2012 ...
As for the cancellation, don't underestimate the power of personality. Scott and Phillips are very smart reviewers, but they ain't "the fat guy and the bald guy."

I hope this project succeeds. I rarely have time to catch a televised review show due to schedule conflicts, but I'd love to see more intelligent film criticism in a web-friendly format. I think you're right. Netflix has been a huge boon to movie viewers by providing not just a fantastically broad selection but also a buffet-style business model that removes the mental calculus one performs at the video store, judging a movie's box to decide whether this film looks $6 good. The advent of Instant Watch has removed an additional barrier, the one where one must consider that 2-3 days will pass between "this looks interesting" and "ok, let's watch this" while the film is in transit. Watching an obscure film on a whim has been realized, and everybody wins with that reality.

Dear Mr Ebert,

I am a film student, recently turned film journalist based in the UK, and I have a huge amount of respect for you, the late and great Mr Gene Siskel and Mr Richard Roeper. It is sad thing to see the television show go, I always wait with giddy excitement on a Monday morning for the reviews to appear on the website, I go onto youtube to watch all of your past reviews and compare them to mine, it is because of you that I have a love for film criticism and how important it is to the public. I especially love the "Worst Films Of 1993" in which both yourself and Mr Siskel had a go at each other about your worst films of the year, "Cop And A Half" and "Carnosour", it still makes me laugh to this day, along with your appearances on "The Critic". It is because of you and your colleagues I want to have my own film review show in the UK.

I hope that you get a review show up soon, as I will hopefully be one of the first people to tune in where ever I can. I wish good luck for both yourself and your lovely wife to get a film review show up and running as soon as possible.

Many Thanks

Ben McCarthy

I checked the Netflix map for my zip code. I live in a lower-income area of the Bronx, which sadly has produced a much less encouraging list of rentals:

1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2. Twilight
3. Paul Blart: Mall Cop
4. Changeling
5. Eagle Eye
6. Body of Lies
7. Transformers 2
8. Seven Pounds
9. Obsessed
10. Lakeview Terrace

But hey, at least "Transformers 2" is only in 7th place, and the top spot goes to an interesting film by a real filmmaker. I'd like to bump some more interesting titles up onto my neighborhood list; among my most recent rentals are "Ponyo," "Moon," "Bright Star," "A Serious Man," and "The Fantastic Mr. Fox," the last of which is in transit to me now.

But it's surely because of "At the Movies," which I discovered for the first time about thirteen years ago, that my taste has so improved. The 2000s were a great decade for me as a moviegoer, no matter how much some people grumble about the decline of the quality of movies. I minored in Film Studies, discovered the likes of Bergman, Lynch, and Woody Allen, and have been on Netflix for almost four years.

I'm looking forward to your new show. We need a program for serious movie-lovers, especially one that incorporates new media; the French film "Summer Hours" did well at the National Society of Film Critics Awards, and that night I streamed it instantly on Netflix. It felt like magic to have it so readily at my fingertips.

The way I see it, it wouldn't take much of a production budget at all. Sit down two critics in a living room and set up a couple of cameras, and I'd watch. Throw in a few spotlights of streaming films (which might be a good way to gain sponsorship from Netflix and other online services), festival coverage, and other things we actually care about, and you've got a winner. The difference between you and the yahoos who hired Ben Lyons is that you know your audience.

Growing up "At the Movies" was my first introduction to real film criticism. I remember both the show itself and the numerous pop culture references that established Mr. Siskel and yourself as the definition of the word "critic" in my mind.

When I was a teenager my memories of your show one day led me to your website and eventually I stumbled across the Great Movies feature and I was never the same as a moviegoer or as a person. Your writing has influenced what I watch and how I watch it and I am certainly grateful that you made me into a discerning lover of film, but there was a deeper impact on my life than even that. You taught me what humanism really means and through learning to watch movies with empathy and understanding I have also learned how to live my life with empathy and understanding. That is something that I could never pay back and never expected to receive from movie reviews.

All of that is to say that I am very excited about the new show and hope that it is very successful, of course for you but also for my own continued education and for the younger generations who can discover your work and become better because of it.

As a filmmaker, and lifelong movie buff first and foremost, I grew up watching "At the Movies." Through watching you and Gene debate the movies, I learned so much and continued to fall deeper in love with movies as I continued watching. I absolutely agree with you that there is an audience out there for a show about film criticism and I would be right there every week. Your idea of embracing the world of new media is also a very cool idea. Any idea when the show is expected to air?

That's disappointing. I didn't really have an affinity for the 2 Bens or Scott/Phillips, but I still watched it because it was still At the Movies. That was where my curiosity of film had started, and how it's grown into appreciation and fascination. Watching Siskel & Ebert helped spark learning, and the latter years of At the Movies was a comparison of opinions between myself and the hosts. It was always fun to watch, and, although this ends, the new show will provide just as much entertainment.

Define 'virtually all movies' please. I know of hundreds of films I can't see right now unless I have a print of it in my house. Jack Chambers' Hart of London for example. John Ford's Seven Women for another... Perhaps your new show could work to dispel this horrifying myth that 'everything is on DVD!'

Ebert: Picky, picky.

I've been a long-time watcher, ever since the days of "Sneak Previews" on PBS. What I liked best about "Ebert and Siskel" (see how I just unflipped that coin for you) was that I always felt like I understood the underlying criteria that you both brought to the cinema. If either of you liked or didn't like a particular movie, I always felt like I understood why, and I could use that understanding to decide whether I wanted to spend my money on seeing it. (And, FWIW, I usually sided with you.)

For me, those were the best years. Richard was never an adequate replacement for Gene. I felt like he was more of a "fan" than a true critic; he never seemed to me to have the depth of knowledge of cinema or the philosophical underpinnings to replace Gene. But, to his credit, I thought he did a wonderful job of hosting the show with all the guest critics during your absence.

The dueling Bens era was painfully bad, but I still kept watching. I could never figure out what Ben Lyons was doing there (trying to appeal to a younger audience makes sense, I guess), but Mankiewicz' comments were interesting enough to keep me tuning in.

When I heard that Phillips and Scott were going to be taking over the show, I got very excited! The two of them, along with Christy Lemire and Kevin Smith, had been among my favorites during the "guest critic" era, so I had hopes that the show was finally turning the corner.

I am so sorry to hear the show has been cancelled. This is so typical of American television: gut a program, removing any real soul or intelligence or controversy, try to make it "entertaining" and safe in an attempt to broaden its appeal to a younger audience, and then cancel it when people stop watching. It's too bad they couldn't have given it another season to see if ratings picked up.

I sincerely hope that your new show will be a success. In the meantime I'll keep reading your blog, your newsletter, and your online reviews.

And let me finish by sending you my best wishes for your continued recovery, and expressing my gratitude and admiration for the courage and grace you've shown the world in your struggles with cancer and your surgeries!

Good luck on your new project. I, too, feel there is an audience for a movie review show featuring two movie critics discussing films. I've started my own online version with my daughter. I'm almost 45 years old, she's only 15. I'm a father of two, she's a teen with her own perspectives. We're not professional movie critics, but she does aspire to be an author someday, so this gives her an outlet to practice. I aspired to be a movie critic when I was younger, but things didn't work out that way. You've always been my favorite movie critic, and should I get a chance to watch your new show, I will. If you'd like to check out our movie reviews, they're at www.daddydaughtermovieproject.blogspot.com.

Roger,

This news leaves me sad. I am looking forward to your upcoming show, but the hole that this will leave in the meantime will touch me in quite an emotional way. I remember as a youngster (about 12 or so) eagerly hiding away in my parents' bedroom on Sunday afternoons, right after church, to watch Siskel & Ebert At the Movies. Since Sunday was yardwork day, the joy of At the Movies was always a very important reprieve, and I gobbled it up each week. The show was an eye-opener each week, not just reviewing the Friday night openings but also older films, foreign films, new to video, things I had never seen or heard of. Through this gateway I found your print reviews, and have stayed entranced ever since. Your program taught me to be a better film watcher, and to value the experience more highly. It taught me to like new things, and to love the fact that I like them, and to hold something that I love close to me. It gave birth to my passion (I went to school for film). I may sound like a cliche when I say that you and Gene were the best film professors I never had. I'm sure you get that a lot. I hope you understand.

In any event, I look forward to the new program. In the meantime, I think about the past and how fortunate I was to find your show at just the right formative age. I hope kids today are as lucky.

Roger,

Thank-you so much for writing this. I spent my childhood falling in love with movies, in large part, due to watching you and Gene's enthusiastic reviews on "At The Movies" every Sunday night at 7pm (where it aired in syndication where I grew up).

Please keep us posted on your new project. Thanks so much for everything.

- Martin

I just feel so sad. I know the things I cherish from my childhood can not possibly continue on forever, but it doesn't lessen the disappointment I feel.
At least I can still read you here and on Twitter. And I will await your new show and watch that when it comes as well.
You just make the world a little bit better somedays.

I wonder about your not being able to have a decent back&forth repartee. Let's Think Outside of the Voice Box, haha, and put the other person's voice to text-recognitive software too, and give her or him the laptop to use it. With a level vocal playing field, and lag time edit-excision similar to that of the interview with theEarth guy in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, I wonder if it would play. Might be worth testing and playing around with. The only thing you'd definitely lose is the ability to interrupt your partner in midsentence--but wouldn't that make the banter a little more civilized?

RE,

Watching your bravery and wit on display the past several months has been an inspiration -- and you were an idol of mine BEFORE. Would love to get back in touch, if you're able. Hard to believe it's been almost 30 years since I asked you to lunch when I was 14. Best, Carl Quintanilla, NBC News

Ebert: Carl, it cannot be 30 years since since we had that lunch on the Hill in Boulder. It cannot be. Cannot. You had it all together then. I'm not even slightly surprised at your success.

No matter what endeavors you take, I will always be a fan. Good luck, Roger & Chaz!

I'll jump to TCM when I know a new movie is going to start, if only to watch Robert Osborne or Alec Baldwin or somebody say a few nice/interesting things about a movie--without a snark in sight. So yes, we need Roger Ebert to present At the Movies, and how.

Best of luck--of which you'll need just a touch, after getting your Sixty Minutes of Oprah. All that's left now is the Colbert Bump, and you'll make it far in this town, kid!

This is joyous news, Roger! To hear your opinions on the new and old in your own "voice" will be a hell of an excitement. Could this potentially mean more DVD commentaries, I wonder?

And now that I've jumped on the Netflix wagon, I have a feeling that in ten years I won't be able to recall living without it. I've already started in on Fassbinder and Almodovar, and just this morning, I watched the last two Solondz films I missed and in a few short weeks I'll be able to see An Education and Herzog's Bad Lieutenant. Sorry to advertise, but I am seeing movies I never thought I'd get ahold of and I am in heaven! Looking forward to the new show, Roger!

Roger,
I cannot f***ing wait. I am 40 now, and my Saturday afternoons/early evenings have never been as fun as when I was between 8 and 14 years old.

My sister hated your show, or maybe just you, but she watched every one with my parents and me. It really is a phenomenon, why Siskel you were so popular and fun to watch. Perhaps because it was groundbreaking in a way, perhaps because you were both so disciplined in your speech, insightful in your analysis, I dunno. I could easily see such a program being as boring as an insurance seminar, but it wasn't. It was riveting...

Thanks,
Mitch

I wasn't surprised that the show was canceled. In many ways, I think that the producers or whomever made the decisions was out of touch with the world as it stands today, with the medium of the Internet and Twitter and iPhones.

I know there are a lot of people who do not watch TV on a television, but online and often, at work. I used to be one of those people.

Also, there was a matter of chemistry. There was something about the chemistry of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert that made it work. Yet that was a different time and TV is still struggling with some old questions.

Lately I've been covering ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" and MTV "America's Best Dance Crew" and I've read some troubling things about race, and voting and dissatisfaction with how ABC chooses certain contestants.

I'm looking forward to this new venture although I will probably watch in online.

This is sad.

I was one of those weird kids with no cable and TV that barely ever worked who mostly only watched PBS at my grandparent's house. 'Sneak Previews' loomed very large in my mind as a result. (Also: I, Claudius, but that's another story.)

I was an even weirder kid who would develop bizarre movie obsessions. My movie obsession in middle school was the movie 'Apocalypse Now.' I still remember that you once said it was one of those few movies that made you forget you were in a theater. (You did say that, right? My memory is not always up to snuff. But I remember this episode about movies that took you out of your sit rather distinctly.) This meant a lot to me, at 13. I was like: Someone gets me! I am vindicated!

I had a picture of Francis Ford Coppola in my locker. No adults around me really understood. Obviously, kids did not understand either. Or my home ec teacher, when I made an Apocalypse Now themed cake. But you did. As I recall (and my memory might be fuzzy), you also validated my weird adolescent attachment to a couple of other movies I had intense feelings about: Altered States and Cutter's Way. I'm pretty sure I saw Cutter's Way because you gave it a thumb's up. I remember taking the bus about 10 miles to see that movie and watching it twice in a row.

I couldn't agree with you more about the need for such a program. Growing up in the 1980s and 90s, the Siskel and Ebert program was the one television program I watched religiously throughout my youth. It was a weekly event, like church (Incidentally, the show appeared in southern Indiana either the early hours of Sunday morning or late Sunday night.). It was personal, for me. I knew, when I was 8 or 15, it was an interest that I didn't necessarily share with other 8-year-olds or 15-year-olds. That didn't matter; the passionate study and experience of the cinema was as essential to my life and growth as the enjoyment of cartoons, the collecting of baseball cards, and the riding of skateboards, may have been for my peers. I am not special. There are many, many youngsters out there exactly like the one I was. They too need to connect over the airwaves, cords and cables, and cell-phone signals, with a lively intellectual discussion of film. It is vital to life.

Looking forward to the new show and waiting to test it on all the delivery platforms you mentioned. Best wishes.

Hi Roger!

I look forward to the new show, especially if we get to see you once in a while. I trust you to pick good co-hosts, but it's not the same without getting your take too!

Any ideas on what's going to become of the archive of your old reviews on the current At The Movies site? I love going back and watching your and Gene's reviews from the old days.

i am sad for the passing of something that was in my life for a very long time. I started watching as a boy in the late 1970's and still watch with AO and Michael.

But I am excited about what may come next with your new project. Good luck Roger! I will be watching!

Roger is correct that a market exists of potential movie-goers who are jealous of their time. It was during the PBS days that I began to appreciate consistent reviews, but it took a while longer to really go beyond ratings expressed with thumbs or stars.

Roger does a very good job of knowing which movies I'll like, but it's reading the essay that accompanies the rating that helps me choose where I'll invest my time. Thanks to DVDs, my DVR and so many movie channels on TV, sooner or later, I get to see most of the good American movies and even a few others. But a well written review helps me set my movie priorities and appreciate what I see.

How sad, it is so hard to find a true movie reviewer on TV. CBC up here in Canada does a good job on their web site but more times than not the reviewers gets slammed if they dare write a review that is against a block buster. We will all miss At The Movies. Cheers Roger. From another fan living in Nova Scotia Canada.

Roger, I hope to see this new show online soon. I've been waiting for awhile since you and Richard left the old show for this to happen.

I've paid attention - see my "URL" attached to this, it's my own version of the story. Hope I got it right.

I would love to see a new show. I remember when I was much younger, watching At The Movies with You and Gene. I always thought you were too harsh with the kid movies. I would always ask my mother why you never liked the movies I liked. Now I have grown up, and I find your opinions to be some of the best that I read. I hope everything works out for the new show, and I hope the hosts work out too.

I'm asking in ignorance here, as a Canadian, but are there any TV shows "syndicated" to Netflix? That kind of deal could be an interesting way to target an audience that, for the most part, seems to appreciate less blockbuster fare.

I'm not surprised of the cancellation - I'm saddened by it, but not surprised at all.
Since internet, for better or worse, allows everyone's voice to be heard, no matter if that voice is competent or not, I'm afraid that now there's simply too many critics (or critic-wannabes) in the cauldron, and the art of criticism is getting ruined or at least tarnished.
I look forward for Mr. Ebert to reclaim his domain on a media that has been taken away from him, and to finally be once more entertain and educate these generations - especially the ones who sadly have stopped reading what's been printed.
Thank you, once again, Mr. Ebert.

Roger, I am very happy to hear that you are working on a new show, and I will be looking forward to it. When I heard the news of the cancellation, as a very long time fan of the show, I was saddened. Good luck, and keep us informed.

Roger, wherever, whenever you pop up, I'll be there.

I grew up watching "At the Movies" with Siskel and Ebert. The show not only brought new and exciting films to my attention at a young age, but more importantly, it educated me on how to properly articulate my like or dislike for a film early on. If my father took me to a film and asked me what I thought of it as we left the theater, I could not only say "I liked it", but I could expand on why I liked it. Often there are common elements involved in what makes a film work (or not work), and to a child "At the Movies" made that easier to grasp.

In full disclosure, I was always a Gene Siskel guy. I just found myself agreeing with Siskel more than I did Roger Ebert (a trend that continued with Richard Roeper, sorry Roger). Of course many times there are films that are so incredibly good, or so pathetically bad that the two hosts could only agree, and thus choosing one opinion over the other was less of a concern. To this day I scour youtube searching for classic reviews from Siskel and Ebert, they often illicit an ear-to-ear smile on my face.

Gene Siskel died on my 25th birthday. I remember waking up and hearing it announced on CNN and my heart sank. I knew he had been sick, but this was a total blow to me. It was the first time that a celebrity death really hit close to home. This was a man I had admired for most of my life, and now he was gone. That day, I was actually going to a screening of “Lawrence Of Arabia” in New York City, a film that I was turned on to by “Siskel and Ebert” in 1989 for the film’s first restoration. Needless to say, my thoughts were heavy during that screening. I still miss Gene Siskel, and to this day, whenever I see what I consider to be a great film, I often wonder “what would Siskel say about this film?”.

When “At the Movies” shifted to guest co-hosts filling in for the late Gene Siskel, I had mixed emotions as a longtime viewer. I was glad to see the show I love continue, but at the same time, I felt like I was watching my mother (sorry again Roger) dating a parade new men every weekend. I liked some suitors better than others of course, and then there were those that simply didn’t deserve to sit in father’s chair.

Eventually, I along with Roger and the audience finally found a worthy successor, Richard Roeper.
Richard Roeper brought a lot to the table, and most important was a passion for movies. He fit in the show almost immediately, not accepting his new position as a birthright, but as a privilege. The show was once again clicking with great debates on the latest movies. Roger’s departure in 2006 was another difficult transition as a viewer, but with the hope that he would soon return, it was made easier. As the months went on, it became clear the Roger’s return might never happen, and that was a devastating realization. However, Richard Roeper really shined as the temporary lead host with an interesting selection of co-hosts, my favorite being Michael Philips.

I frankly stopped viewing “At The Movies” after Richard Roeper left the show in 2008. The show was moving to a new direction that Roeper did not want to be a part of, and as a viewer that that valued his opinion, I didn’t choose to be a part of either. Although the show returned to its roots a year later, with new hosts Tony Scott and Michael Phillips, I didn’t find myself going back. Perhaps it was the fact that the classic balcony set was gone, or that neither Ebert nor Roeper were involved, or that the thumbs up/thumbs down was still missing… it just wasn’t the show I remembered and I had no connection to it.

“At The Movies” was the only show that I can honestly say that I never missed. It was the show that made me want to become a film critic, and as a journalist, it’s a goal that is still with me. I couldn’t imagine a better job. I would often watch the show with seething jealousy, as these two guys got paid to watch and talk about movies. It would be appointment viewing on weekends. Keeping up with the schedule was never easy, as it often shifted time slots without warning. Saturday evenings at six seemed logical for many years, but then moved to Sunday mornings, Saturday afternoons, Saturday mornings and even Sunday late night! Needless to say, the invention of the DVR came in handy for following the show. I can’t begin to list the number of films that I discovered because of the show over the years, films I would not have discovered on my own. The show was a valuable resource.

I want Roger’s new show to find a home, and an audience. I would like to see a return to the familiar balcony set. I hope the new show includes our friend, Richard Roeper, who is the only accessible voice to the show I once loved. If the death of “At the Movies” can give birth to a new show with Roger Ebert at the helm, then perhaps it’s not such a bad thing.

Who were your favorite critics growing up?

This good news. I've been an Ebert fan practically forever, and have had two Lettermanesque brushes with greatness: the first was as a 16-year-old usher in 1968 at the Riviera theater in Chicago (my first job) when I took your ticket at the door on a weekend afternoon. It was an Elvis movie, I think. The second came in 1979 when I was newly married, and trying to make the proverbial ends meet and delivering pizzas part-time. I delivered two to a WTTW "Sneak Previews" production meeting.

I'm still gonna blame cancer, on general principle.

I'm quite sad to hear about the cancellation, as I'm still a fan of "old media." But I look forward to the new project, because I think there's still a place for good, intelligent movie criticism out there. Keep us updated, please.

The big question is, will that invaluable archive of reviews remain on the "At the Movies" website?

As you say, the syndication market for original weekly shows is just about dead; in most cities the current At the Movies often aired at 3:30 AM on a weekend morning between infomercials for the Snuggle Blanket and Extenz.

I assume your new show will be on a cable network. Viewers would have an easier time finding such a show on Home & Garden Television (not that I expects it to land there) than they did on local tv. (I assume the program will land on a network with "full" distribution, such as TCM. (I'd be surprised if its destination isn't a channel with at least one of T, M, and A as an initial.)

Thanks, Roger. I have grown up as a movie lover with you and the benefit has been all mine. I watched you and Gene on WTTW and have continued watching the show through most of its incantations. I thought Michael and Mr. Scott were well on their way to carrying on the mantle of "At the Movies" more than adequately and am disappointed in its cancellation.

You, and elements of my education, helped me learn how to watch movies - critically and with an eye to the artists's more subtle intentions. One of the reasons I stayed with your show through all of my adult life was it afforded the opportunity to see two critics discuss an entire scene. No heavily edited trailers and rousing score. No 30 second commercial. But an actual scene from an upcoming movie analyzed by two people who had a pretty good eye.

Over time, I imagine movie executives have determined that slow-moving scenes don't sell a movie as much as mish-mash editing, for I see less and less of the former and more and more of the latter. You have been in the business a long time and no better then me, but as a viewer I want you to know that the subtle lessons in movie-watching by using a scene were among the main reasons I kept watching.

When the Oscars announced that the best song variety show was being eliminated from the telecast, I was elated, hopeful that when we got to the acting categories we could see fully realized scenes of the artists at work and come to an understanding of why they were nominated. Unfortunately, I doubt I will ever get that wish fulfilled from that venue. Time will not allow it and best picture trailers sell the movie better than best picture scenes.

I wish you luck in your new endeavors. I will be watching and I'd like to leave you with my favorite film-watching story...

It was the first class of my first film criticism course at the University of Chicago. Our professor was expressing the difficulty in deciding on a first movie to show for a first class. The problem was trying to come up with a movie he could be reasonably sure everyone in the class had seen. Citizen Kane was out. (As Gene pointed out in the video-segment - "greatest movie of all time" can be intimidating.) He had been using Gone with the Wind but had noticed, as the class got more international over time, even that movie was losing initial viewership. I have to say this devastated me as my six-year daughter at the time (I was late to finish my education) had GWTW pretty much memorized and was working on Fosse's "All that Jazz." (Okay perhaps not age-appropriate but I like to let minds wander where they will.)

To get back to the anecdote: Our professor settled on The Wizard of Oz. He showed the first part of the movie letting it run a little into the color segment and we began our discussion. We talked about the use of color, the story elements, some of the directorial decisions, and had a lot of fun with it and learned.

After two hours of discussion, as the class was coming to a close, a young mid-eastern gentlemen finally broke the silence he had held throughout the evening and said " I hate to admit it but I have never seen this film. I have to know, what happens to the dog?"

Perhaps you had to be there. Once again, thanks Roger. Good luck and now I must go do something I've been meaning to do for a week and join a club. There's a clubhouse around here somewhere...

TV just seems such a limited medium for criticism. I just watched your review of Citizen Kane; my memory of your written review formed a better review. The personal-ness that seems like the biggest advantage of TV over writing is, for me at least, not worth the elimination of relevant information and analysis. Might as well grow friends who are interested in discussing cinema.

By the way, have you seen this? I find it amazing.

By the way (2), there's a TV review program in India, called 'Chicks on Flicks', a two-woman show obviously a descendant of yours. I watch it as a demostration of how not to review.

This makes me strangely giddy. I think it's because everything I see or read seems to be getting dumbed down these days. It will be nice to have one more avenue to discover the fims that i truly don't want to miss.

Hey Roger, as a movie lover I found At the Movies to be an eesential tool for picking the best movies available; I'm sad that it's gone for good. Having said that, I'm pretty excited for your new TV show and the fact that you're being adamant in promoting art cinema in general. Our generation needs to purge themselves from the trash that arrives in multiplexes every week and the 3D hysteria (I've heard more positives than negatives about it, which is perplexing and sad). Anyway, thanks for the good news and I hope to listen to you again. Could you make another feature length commentary for a classic movie? that would be great. Cheers, good luck.

Thank you Roger. One word, Rosebud. http://bit.ly/aYzZRo

I'm saddened to hear of the cancellation of "At the Movies." I've been a faithful watcher for almost 30 years. I even watched Mank and Lyons. I thought Michael and A.O. revived the show, and put it back on its feet. I'll miss it, but am glad to hear that you are working on a replacement that will be net-savvy. Good luck!

I'd love to see Jonathan Rosenbaum on the new show. He's not as presentable as the current hosts, but his reviews are almost works of art on their own.

I'll watch! I'll watch! :)

Mr. Ebert, I love what you do for the people. I remember once seeing you in Ricobene's (on Lake Street, just off Michigan Ave, a few years back) and, despite my fan-of-yours-level, I decided to allow you the opportunity to finish your food in peace...but it was tough. :)

That said, in re: "At the Movies" cancellation, I think one of the problems (at least for me)--besides you no longer being on show--is that "reviews" are too detailed now. Maybe I'm just the one that changed over the years, and that I, now, prefer to go into a movie with only a vague understanding of what a film is about. I read your reviews AFTER I watch a movie. I guess I want to see the movie as you did when you watched it: unguided, untouched by possible scenarios, completely as if I'm living the scenes as they happen.

One of the best things I've seen is, on occasion, reading a critic who realizes saying too much will give away a movie; although, even then, just hinting at something is enough to "ruin" the "twist that you must see!" See, now I'm going into this movie looking for a twist, so that when the twist actually gets to me, it doesn't quite hit me from left field...more just from the spot between pitcher's mound and shortstop.

Now, all of that said, there's nothing I enjoy more than reading one of your reviews after I check out a flick. I love reading what you have to say, and, sometimes, you help me understand a film.

Roger, I think it's great you're producing a new show and adapting to the current technological advancements of mass communication. Twitter, Facebook, etc. are essential to stay on ground in the coming future.

I also love the New Cinema concept. Like you said more and more people are becoming interested in quality motion pictures be it foreign films or independant. I think it has something to do with more crappy films being released than ever before and of course the recent rise of the independant film (Slumdog Millionaire, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, the list goes on)

I do hope both you and Chaz the best of luck, and although I won't be able to watch it here in Egypt, I will keep track of whatever is exposed online.

Roger, I think this is your swan song.

Always is some new way to go!

Who's the hot chick in the bikini at the beginning of your first video link (WTTW)? Hubba Hubba!

Kim Morgan please

Roger, I love the picture you included of you and Gene in front of the "At the Movies" marquee. As you know, that was shot at the Pickwick theater in Park Ridge, Illinois where I grew up. The Pickwick was my Cinema Paradiso. It was a second-run theater that gave me an opportunity to see movies every week in a grand theater on the big screen for only a buck at the time, and I feel lucky that it was around and is still around today. I was at the theater the night you filmed the opening for At the Movies, and I recall they had a showing of Star Wars afterward.

Rotten news. My wife and I have just gotten used to the grown-ups being back in charge of the show--our Saturday evening ritual, with martinis close at hand, back in order--and now the bean counters kill it. We're excited and hopeful, however, that your new show will refill the gaping hole that this cancellation creates. We also hope it does have a presence on broadcast TV. We don't get cable and, somehow, huddling in front of the iMac gripping martinis, squinting at low-rez imagery, doesn't seem quite right. It would be great if PBS is a venue that you're exploring, to put the new show at a far remove from the untender mercies of commercial broadcast TV. Best of luck with the venture!

Since I was kid - and I'm talking 6 or 7 years old - the meaning of "Siskel and Ebert give it two thumbs up!" on a film's trailer was insurmountable.

I remember at 12 being sad about Siskel's passing, and grew to accept Roeper as the cohost of the show. I even got over your unfortunate absence from the show, and started to develop great affection for Phillips and Scott. If you were going to be gone, I couldn't think of two other more critical minds from more important publications better to fill the seats.

It was your show and your reviews that helped to keep my critical view of movies as a teenager, and to even begin writing reviews when I was in high school. In January 2007, I began writing reviews for my college newspaper, The Lumberjack Student Press. Through hell and high water, I've been the film critic for that publication for 3 1/2 years, and I hope to continue until I graduate in May 2011.

I mention this because I am very sad to see the death of At The Movies. This, combined with the unfortunate dismissal of Todd McCarthy from Variety, only hammers home the unfortunate health of film criticism, and perhaps even the film industry (as both a business and an art form).

I'm only 22, but I yearn for the good old days where movies were seen in movie theaters because that's where people wanted to see them. But rising ticket prices, the death of theater etiquette, web piracy, and shortened theatrical windows make theaters a less important venue (unless we're talking 3D, which is a gimmick more out of desperation than artistic benefit is most cases). The films of substance are skipped over by companies and consumers who know explosions will get the butts in the seats. Even DVD development has gotten lazy; companies used to spend time filling them up with extras, and now even the Blu-Rays for "Where the Wild Things Are" and "No Country for Old Men" fail to provide anything of real substance in comparison to the innumerable extras of the first DVD releases.

Now, I'm not foolish enough to think that movies are the most important thing in our complicated world. For Christ's sake, I'm an economics major, despite my affinity for film writing and development. The reality is that many, if not most, could care less what they're watching so long as it's compelling on a basic level.

But I can't help but notice that the injection of fear into the social conscious has made artistic integrity of music and film to seem less important. People have so much to worry about that they don't have time for artistic evaluation. The people that cared before are fewer in number, because they can't get paid for seriously spending time on development. Similarly, everything is jumping online, the only place where I believe the "Film Critic's Last Stand" is taking place.

The Internet has become a fantastic platform for film viewing and critiquing, but the unfortunate truth is that there is no money in it. Perhaps the problem with the Internet in a capitalist society is that once people get something for free, it becomes very difficult to get them to pay for it again. Maybe that will be tested with the New York Times firewall next year. But websites like Rotten Tomatoes (which I love) have devalued the financial gains of film criticism. This is why McCarthy gets canned and At The Movies gets dismissed - it's all online. Advertisers are confused by the platform, and neither they or the consumers want to pony up any cash on something as expendable as a mouse-click.

Will academia be the only place for film to be critiqued as an art form? God, I hope not, because academic film conversation is usually handled by people too disconnected to see how some viewers won't be interested in "Casablanca" (not out of ignorance, but because they just don't care), while not understanding the potential artistic value of "Avatar."

The question of it all comes down to making money. In a capitalist world where the Internet exists, I hope film critics and independent filmmakers will find a way to make a good living. if not, then the movie studios (seeing value more in the big guns, big tits, big explosions, small minded projects) were right all along.

I hope that in a world of NetFlix, people can embrace a revamped version of At The Movies to guide them toward new and little-known flicks. Whether consumers realize or not, they still love movie reviews. They love them because they are entertaining, and they love them because, when offered an opinion on a movie, they see themselves as film critics too. As someone who plans to continue writing movie reviews, and is working adamantly to make them professionally (I've produced one, directed another, and have another one lensing this summer), I can only hope somebody will continue to root for the underdogs of cinema.

...Sorry for taking up all the space. I got a little carried away here. My bad.

@ben kreider

"Movies are hearty, TV is tripe."

I strongly recommend that 1) you read this article:

http://nymag.com/arts/all/aughts/62513/

and 2) rent the first season of the The Wire, and 3) prepare for enlightenment.

@Roger

I look forward to the new show. =)

NYT Netflix Map: http://nyti.ms/6cWUYF

You go Roger! Glad to see you back as we missed you old timer. I would like to see you do a movie channel like Robert Jolin Osborne does over at TCM. Possibly on WGN or local Chicago station. I have also suggested to Richard Roeper that he try to bring back Family Classics at WGN as the host. Chicago has always had the best film critics with Gene Siskell and Roger Ebert adding Richard Roeper to the fold, Roy Leonard, Dean Richardson and I just want to keep that greatness a Chicago thing.
Kilburn Hall
Chicago author

Can't wait for the new show. I've been reading and watching you for most of my life.

Also wanted to tell you that my acting class spent a good twenty minutes talking about you before getting into the work last night. You inspire us.

I'm really disappointed that ATM is going off the air. I thought Tony and Michael did a good job. But I'm really excited about your new show. I'm particularly intrigued by the idea of covering what's new in instant streaming, especially Netflix Instant--which is now the majority of my movie watching. There may be a limited selection of blockbusters there but who cares? I've found I could work my way through much of your "Best of 2009" lists in foreign and indie pictures. Just watched "Goodbye Solo" and "O'Horten" this weekend, for example, and really liked both (in very different ways!)

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Roger Ebert


Roger Ebert's latest books are Scorsese by Ebert and Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2009. Published recently: Roger Ebert's Four-Star Reviews (1967-2007) and Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert. Books can be ordered through rogerebert.com. (Photo by Taylor Evans)

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