The classic ‘thumbs up/thumbs down’ method of movie reviewing will be returning to television when PBS begins broadcasting ‘Roger Ebert Presents At The Movies,’ a weekly half-hour film criticism show that revives the format that made Roger Ebert, along with his partner Gene Siskel, household names. Ebert announced it on his journal today at the Chicago Sun Times, saying he’ll be producing the show with his wife Chaz.
“This is the rebirth of a dream,” Ebert said about the new show. “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.”
Starting in January 2011, the show will be broadcasting from WTTW Chicago, where it began back in 1975, and its co-hosts will be film critics Elvis Mitchell of National Public Radio, formerly of the New York Times and Christy Lemire of the Associated Press, with contributions from movie bloggers Kim Morgan and Omar Moore. Ebert himself will still be a part of the show despite the fact that throat cancer has taken away his ability to speak. He’ll be using a computer voice to let him discuss his favorite new and classic films in segments they’ll call “Roger’s Office,” but he won’t be part of the central debates. “They’ll be awarding the Thumbs,” Ebert said of Mitchell and Lemire, “and you can’t have three Thumbs.”
Siskel and Ebert started the show with the title ‘Opening Soon at a Theater Near You,’ and by 1976 it was ‘Sneak Previews,’ the most popular show in PBS history at the time, and then it moved into syndication in 1982 until Siskel’s death in 1999. Mitchell was one of several critics who had a guest spot as Ebert’s co-host until Richard Roeper became the full-time replacement until Ebert’s health troubles derailed his television career in 2006. Lemire and Morgan then had time in the guest chair filling in for Ebert until Roeper left the show in 2008 when Disney decided on an ill-fated revamp of the program that ended earlier this year.