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October 31, 2014

'At the Movies' Replaces Lyons, Mankiewicz: Will It Work?

by Andrew Scott, posted Aug 6th 2009 1:00PM
At the MoviesFor Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz, the balcony is closed.

After only a year on the job, the duo has been dropped from hosting the weekend movie review show 'At the Movies,' according to ABC News. They'll be replaced by film critics A.O. Scott (The New York Times) and Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune), effective Sept. 5.

As hosts, Lyons and Mankewicz received a big thumbs down from their peers. Lyons in particular was the subject of a great deal of bad press, such as a 2008 LA Times piece asking the question "Is Ben Lyons the most hated film critic in America?" Many -- including those at the website StopBenLyons.com -- took issue with Lyons' reviews, particularly 2007's 'I Am Legend,' which he called one of the greatest movies ever made.At the MoviesFor Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz, the balcony is closed.

After only a year on the job, the duo has been dropped from hosting the weekend movie review show 'At the Movies,' according to ABC News. They'll be replaced by film critics A.O. Scott (The New York Times) and Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune), effective Sept. 5.

As hosts, Lyons and Mankewicz received a big thumbs down from their peers. Lyons in particular was the subject of a great deal of bad press, such as a 2008 LA Times piece asking the question "Is Ben Lyons the most hated film critic in America?" Many -- including those at the website StopBenLyons.com -- took issue with Lyons' reviews, particularly 2007's 'I Am Legend,' which he called one of the greatest movies ever made.

Even Roger Ebert, who originated 'At the Movies' with Gene Siskel in 1975, seemed unhappy with his replacements (Ebert left the show in 2006 due to his battle with thyroid cancer). Some have speculated that the points made in his 2008 article, 'Roger's Little Rule Book,' were targeted directly at Lyons.

Brian Frons, president of daytime for the Disney-ABC Television group, promises that moving forward, the show will return to its roots. "We've decided to return the show to its original essence – two traditional film critics discussing current motion picture and DVD releases," he said in a statement.

Both Scott and Phillips are throwbacks to the Siskel and Ebert era. Scott has been a film critic at the Times for 10 years; Phillips has been with the Tribune since 2002. They've also appeared as guest hosts before, opposite Richard Roeper, so they should be a natural fit for the camera.

What it will ultimately come down to is chemistry, something Siskel and Ebert always had, no matter how many times they disagreed on a movie.

The question remains: Will Scott and Phillips be able to fill their shoes? Or are there more bad reviews to come?

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