After 30 years of film critique, “At the Movies,” created in 1980 by the now-legendary Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, has been canceled.
The show underwent many revamps in its decades on the air. When Siskel was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1998, he participated in the show over the telephone from his hospital bed. After Siskel’s death in 1999, Ebert continued the show with guest critics including Martin Scorsese, Joel Siegel and Richard Roeper, who eventually signed on as a regular co-host. When Roeper and Ebert left the show, Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz took over. A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips are the current hosts and will continue through the summer.
“R.I.P., ‘At the Movies.’ Memories,” Ebert tweeted Wednesday (March 24).
Ebert assures fans that the despite the cancellation, he still believes in the initial premise of the show. “We believe a market still exists for a weekly show where a couple of critics review new movies,” he wrote in his blog early Thursday (March 25). He and his wife, Chaz Ebert, intend to go ahead with plans for a new review show, saying that they’re “deeply involved” in talks for a show that will, tentatively, be titled “Roger Ebert presents At the Movies,” a title that he and Siskel used 30 years ago.
Ebert notes that big changes in the market for syndicated shows like “At the Movies,” along wit cable TV, the Internet, the economy, and “the fact that everything seems to be going to hell in a hand basket,” all contributed to the cancellation. But he remains optimistic.
“For years we closed with ‘The balcony is closed,'” he writes. “Before that it was ‘See you at the movies.’ That’s the right note to end on.”
Photo credit: RogerEbert.com