I never should have believed that, having survived the cancer that robbed him of his natural voice, a simple cancellation by Disney would be enough to keep Roger Ebert or "At the Movies" down.
Indeed, as announced appropriately enough in the Chicago Sun Times, "Roger Ebert Presents At The Movies" will be coming to PBS - where Ebert and the late, great Gene Siskel got their TV start way back in 1975 - in January, and he's lined up two fantastic hosts. The show will be hosted chiefly by the Associated Press' Christy Lemire and NPR's Elvis Mitchell, with further contributions from Kim Morgan and Omar Moore.
Though by force we mostly run reviews by Roger Moore in the newspaper that still pays my bills (although he's a very good writer, the "by force" is that he's also very fast and we have an early deadline), I always try and wait to get my hands on Lemire's reviews, because she always delivers strong opinions with a hearty splash of wit. I also like that, as you'll see from the preview clip below, she's a woman who both rails against by-the-numbers romantic comedies but embraces great female directors like Nicole Holofcener, while at the same convincingly raving about odd choices like "Piranha 3D" and "The Last Exorcism."
As for Mitchell, I haven't kept up with his work like I should recently, but I used to love his writing for The New York Times. Together, as you'll again see in the preview below as they discuss Holofcener's "Please Give," which I haven't had the pleasure of seeing yet, they have a natural banter that, while not quite Siskel & Ebert caliber, should at least make them worthy successors.
Perhaps best of all, Ebert will be appearing with his computer voice in a weekly segment called "Roger's Office," most often, I'd have to guess, giving his thumb's up to movies that otherwise wouldn't get much play at all anywhere on TV. Here's what Roger himself had to say about the new endeavour:
"This is the rebirth of a dream. 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."
One definite advantage of returning to PBS (assuming the yarnheads at GPTV are smart enough to pick this up) is that it should have a set air time each week, something the show was often sorely lacking when it was handled by the Tribune company and then Disney.
Definitely keep an eye out for this starting in January. I know I will, because "Sneak Previews" with Siskel and Ebert debuted when I was 5 years old, and I've enjoyed Ebert's insightful and always entertaining reviews ever since (or at least since I was old enough to understand them.) Enjoy this preview for the new show, in which Lemire and Mitchell dish on "Iron Man 2" (solid thumbs down, and I heartily agree) and "Please Give" (a split decision), and then feel free to stick around for a couple more videos that caught my eye this morning.
OK, if something this mawkish-looking were coming from, say, M. Night Shyamalan, I'd probably just say no immediately, but I'd say Clint Eastwood has at least earned the benefit of the doubt by now. And besides, I've seen his last flick, "Gran Torino," three times now, and it just keeps getting better each time. As you'll see from this first trailer, Eastwood's next flick, "Hereafter," stars Matt Damon as some kind of reluctant psychic and deals with all kinds of weighty life-and-death issues (hey, it is fall, right?). Enjoy the clip and keep an eye out for "Hereafter" beginning in at least some cities Oct. 22.
And finally today, a dose of silliness that's just about right for a Saturday morning (even if it's a Saturday on which I have to work - nards.) I've said here plenty of times before that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an actor I'd watch do just about anything, and he certainly puts that to the test by performing Lady GaGa's "Bad Romance" for his Hitrecord.org cohorts. It's actually pretty darn good, and guaranteed to at least make you smile a little, which is really the right way to leave things today. Peace out.