It's official. Roger Ebert
, the longtime film critic and co-host of the syndicated series, At the Movies
, has decided to leave the show after 23 years. Ebert made the announcement on his website yesterday.
Ebert started the series with Gene Siskel
and hobbled along solo for a while following Siskel's death in 1999. Others auditioned for the vacant chair left by Siskel – including local Internet film geek Harry Knowles
of Ain't It Cool News
. The search ended with the decidedly safe selection of Richard Roeper
. The sparks between Roeper and Ebert never reached the intensity that Ebert and Siskel reached. That pairing was the best thing to happen to films, I think. Watching Siskel and Ebert spar over a film was like waiting to see who would throw the first punch. That's how adamant, devoted, and, well, cocky they each were. But it wasn't just cocky for their need to preen – you really got the sense that they each thought film was a vital part of expressive culture and they were devoted to honoring, celebrating, and defending it.
In later years, Ebert's own health problems curtailed his appearances on the series. While no one is saying, it's hard not to wonder if Ebert's health issues precipitated the final separation from the show.
As it turns out Roeper is leaving At the Movies
as well. Couldn't hammer out a new contract with Disney-ABC Domestic Television. He leaves the show after eight years.
At the Movies
will continue with new hosts Ben Lyons
and Ben Mankiewicz
, according to Variety.com. Lyons has covered film and entertainment online and on TV for E!, MTV, Access Hollywood
, and TMZ
. Mankiewicz is the more seasoned of the pair, known for his satellite radio program "The Young Turks." He was recently named the new daytime, weekend host for TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and begins that gig in September. And yes, he is one of those Mankiewicz's -- the grandson of writer Herman Mankiewicz
and great-nephew of director Joseph L. Mankiewicz
. Citizen Kane
(1941), All About Eve
(1950), Guys and Dolls
(1955), The Pride of the Yankees
(1942), Dinner at Eight
(1933) and Cleopatra
(1963) are a few of the films that have the Mankiewicz name attached to them.
Along with new hosts, At the Movies
is going for a newer, fresher look. No word on when the new rendition of the series will launch. Read More | Comment »