Film critic Roger Ebert announced today that he is bringing back a halfhour film review program to television, “Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies,” that will air in the same spot where Ebert’s TV career began: public television station WTTW in Chicago.
“This is the rebirth of a dream,” Ebert said in his announcement.
The new series, which filmed a pilot over the summer, will debut in January, and feature film critics Christy Lemire of The Associated Press and Elvis Mitchell of National Public Radio as co-hosts. Contributors will include Kim Morgan and Omar Moore.
Ebert, a co-producer of the new series, will appear in every episode using a computer voice to compensate for his inability to speak as a result of cancer. His segment, entitled “Roger’s Office,” will be devoted to
classic, overlooked and new films. His co-hosts, he said, will be giving the famous thumbs up or down on new releases.
“They’ll be awarding the Thumbs, and you can’t have
three Thumbs,” Ebert said.
Ebert’s wife Chaz, VP of his company, is producing, with an eye toward national distribution.
“A contract has been signed between WTTW National Productions and Ebert Productions, LLC, and the show will be distributed by WTTW to the nation’s public broadcasting stations by American Public Television (APT),” WTTW veep of program development and syndication for national productions Frances J. Harth said. “We’re pleased to welcome the show back home.”
Added Ebert: “I believe that by returning to its public roots, our new show will win
better and more consistent time slots in more markets. American
television is swamped by mindless gossip about celebrities, and I’m
happy this show will continue to tell viewers honestly if the critics
think a new movie is worth seeing.”
In addition to film reviews, “REPATM” will also address new media, classics, on-demand viewing and genres.
Ebert, the longtime Chicago-based film critic, first hit the TV airwaves on WTTW in 1975 with “Opening Soon at a Theater Near You,” which a year later morphed into “Sneak Previews.” The syndicated “At the Movies” bowed in 1982.
“The pilot won a warm reception,” Chaz Ebert said. “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.”