Roger Ebert‘s new film-review show debuts this weekend, and when it does, you’ll see a different Ebert than the one you’ve seen in the recent past.
Ebert writes on his blog that he’s been fitted with a prosthesis for his chin and neck — he lost his lower jaw in a battle with cancer — which he’ll wear when he appears on camera in “Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies,” which premieres this weekend on PBS stations (check your local listings for times). The prosthesis is the work of Dr. David Reisberg at the University of Illinois-Chicago, along with his colleague David Rotter and Julie Jordan Brown, a Milwaukee anaplastologist.
“I will wear the prosthesis on the new television show,” Ebert writes. “That’s not to fool anyone, because my appearance is widely known. It will be used in a medium shot of me working in my office, and will be a pleasant reminder of the person I was for 64 years. Symbolically, it’s as if my illness never happened and, hey, here I still am, on the show with these new kids.”
Ebert says his appearance “reminds me of the original Phantom of the Opera,” but he’s not trying to hide the way he looks after his cancer battle.
“At the beginning of this process” — which took two years, he says — “I assumed I would wear the new prosthesis whenever I left the house, so that ‘nobody would know.’ But everybody knows. The photograph of me that appeared in Esquire [in February 2010] even found its way onto billboards in China. And something else has happened since that day in the hospital: I accept the way I look. Lord knows I paid the dues.”
Below is a preview of “At the Movies” courtesy of WLS-TV in Chicago, where Ebert was the film critic for many years (in addition to his work for the Chicago Sun-Times) prior to his illness. It reveals that different filmmakers will provide the voiceover for the “Roger’s Office” segments each week, beginning with Werner Herzog.