On Aug. 14, the 'At the Movies' balcony will officially be closed for good.
According to the Live Feed, Disney-ABC Domestic TV has canceled the long-running series after 24 years in syndication.
"This was a very difficult decision, especially considering the program's rich history and iconic status within the entertainment industry, but from a business perspective it became clear this weekly, half-hour, broadcast syndication series was no longer sustainable," the distributor said in a statement.
But the article, and the stark pictures of Ebert that accompanied it, has led Ebert in some interesting directions. For instance, he'll be going on Oprah Winfrey's show on March 2 to do his first interview since various cancer surgeries robbed him of his voice, most of his jaw, and his ability to eat and drink. Ebert will speak through the use of a computer.
The two Chicago titans have a long history together; five years ago, Ebert revealed that the two of them even went out on a couple of dates in the 1980s, where Ebert gave Oprah the idea to syndicate her talk show rather than take it to the network level.
As fans of 'At The Movies' know, Ebert's been off the air for almost four years, since complications from cancer surgery on his jaw left him unable to eat, drink, or speak. The pictures of Ebert that accompany the story are stark; no matter how many times I see it, the image of the withered lower half of his face is tough to see.
The article, though, is inspiring; it shows an Ebert who has been able to come to terms with how he's currently living his life and how he navigates through it, mostly through the excellent writing on his Chicago Sun-Times blog. But the most emotionally-charged moment in the whole story was his visible anger at seeing that the video of his 1999 Gene Siskel tribute show has been pulled off his 2009 blog entry about his partner and friend's death.
The Chicago Sun-Times movie critic and original host of At The Movies with his longtime partner Gene Siskel talked about how producers completely remade the show.
The changes ranged from the show's hosts down to the famous balcony set that the studio "tore at our set with sledge-hammers, and it collected in a dumpster in the alley."
This is both hysterical and bittersweet. Someone has found footage of film critic Roger Ebert and his late partner in crime, Gene Siskel, shooting promos for their syndicated program Siskel & Ebert & the Movies. Listen as they both go off on a hilarious tongue-in-cheek rant about WASPs and Protestantism, laugh as they try to get through yet another promo while lobbing insults at one another, and try not to wet your pants when Gene explains that Roger's answer to every question he's asked at McDonald's is "yes."
Funny as all of this is, it does make me miss watching these two guys lock horns with one another. Richard Roeper does okay holding his own against Roger, but it's nothing compared to how he and Gene used to go after one another in what often seemed like an extremely vicious and callous manner. And yet, when it was all said and done they still remained friends.
Note: Links above contain swearing, so probably NSFW.
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