Roger Ebert

Film Critic / Host


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his ninety-minute Archive Interview, Roger Ebert (1942-2013) speaks about his interest in the movies while growing up and his early work as a freelance writer for various publications throughout his college years. He discusses joining the Chicago Sun-Times in 1966 and being named the paper's film critic in early 1967, a post that eventually earned him the first Pulitizer Prize awarded for film criticism. He briefly talks of his early experiences on television before he was teamed with Gene Siskel on the local WTTW movie review series Opening Soon at a Theatre Near You. Ebert notes the many incarnations of the show, which went national on PBS and then was nationally syndicated, becoming the familiar Siskel & Ebert. He recalls working with his longtime colleague and sometime rival Gene Siskel, who co-hosted the show until his death in February 1999. Ebert describes the transitional period that followed until Richard Roeper was offered the job "across the aisle" from him on the renamed Ebert & Roeper in July 2000. Ebert details various aspects of the series, including the thumbs up/ thumbs down grading system, the use of movie clips on the show, and the impact the show has had on movies. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on November 2, 2005 in Chicago, IL.

"People watching television or listening to conversation need to be told things more simply and directly than when they're reading. It's a different kind of writing. When I first started writing for the show, Thea Flaum our producer would go over my copy and shake her head because I was writing long paragraphs of print and expecting to read them on television. On TV, you don't have that much time -- you have to get right to it." 

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Roger Ebert on the origin of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" and trademarking the phrase "two thumbs up"
Roger Ebert on his style of writing and on why film criticism is important
Roger Ebert on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television
Roger Ebert on Gene Siskel's death and legacy
Roger Ebert on casting a new critic (Richard Roeper) to replace Gene Siskel
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On the first films he saw growing up; on his participation in science fiction fandom; on his early journalist pursuits; on landing the job as the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times;  on winning the Pulitzer Prize for film criticism; on his style of writing and on why film criticism is important; on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television
On his first appearances on television; on meeting fellow critic and longtime co-host Gene Siskel; on their first teaming for the local Chicago movie review series Opening Soon... at a Theater Near You; on Gene Siskel
On the elements that made up his various review shows with Gene Siskel; on the early format of the show which resulted in long shoots; on his chemistry with co-critic Gene Siskel

Chapter 2

On differences of opinions with Gene Siskel on certain movies; on how they affected the fate of films My Dinner with Andre and Hoop Dreams
On the origin of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" and trademarking the phrase "two thumbs up"; on rating films
On his banter with Gene Siskel; on how his fame affected his work; on reviewing Nuns on the Run; on hearing from filmmakers
On changes when the show went to commercial television from PBS; on the home video segment; on discussing ratings on the show and his talks with Jack Valenti (head of the MPAA)
On film colorization and doing a show in black and white; on Gene Siskel's death and legacy; on the format of Siskel & Ebert & the Movies after Siskel's death

Chapter 3

On guest reviewers on Siskel & Ebert & the Movies after Siskel's death; on doing a film special with President Bill Clinton; on casting a new critic (Richard Roeper) to replace Gene Siskel; on never having personal arguments with Roeper; on his dynamic with Richard Roeper and how it differed from that with Gene Siskel
On his chemistry with Richard Roeper; on differences between Siskel and Roeper; on the billing for Siskel & Ebert & the Movies; on creative control and production on Ebert & Roeper and past shows
On other appearances on television; on Jay Leno being a huge film fan; on his proudest career achievement; on advice to film critics and filmmakers; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

At the Movies

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Roger Ebert on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television
Roger Ebert on Gene Siskel

Critic, The

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Roger Ebert on he and Gene Siskel taping a voiceover for The Critic

Ebert & Roeper

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Roger Ebert on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television
Roger Ebert on casting a new critic (Richard Roeper) to replace Gene Siskel; on working with Roeper

Live with Regis and Kathie Lee

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Roger Ebert on reviewing Nuns on the Run on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee

Opening Soon... at a Theater Near You

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Roger Ebert on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television, and early influence of producer Thea Flaum
Roger Ebert on his and Gene Siskel's appearances on TV previous to teaming up for the first time
Roger Ebert on being teamed up with Gene Siskel for the very first time for the local Chicago movie review series Opening Soon... at a Theater Near You
Roger Ebert on Gene Siskel

Roger Ebert & The Movies

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Roger Ebert on the format of Siskel & Ebert & the Movies after Siskel's death and the failed Roger Ebert & The Movies

Siskel & Ebert & the Movies

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Roger Ebert on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television
Roger Ebert on Gene Siskel
Roger Ebert on how the transition from Tribune to Disney/Buena Vista effected Gene Siskel
Roger Ebert on differences of opinions with Gene Siskel on certain movies; on how they affected the fate of films; on "two thumbs up"
Roger Ebert on discussing colorization on Siskel & Ebert & the Movies; on Gene Siskel's death and legacy
Roger Ebert on guest reviewers on Siskel & Ebert & the Movies after Siskel's death
Roger Ebert on the billing for Siskel & Ebert & the Movies

Sneak Previews

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Roger Ebert on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television
Roger Ebert on Gene Siskel

Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The

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Roger Ebert on Jay Leno being a huge film fan
Topics

Bill Clinton

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Roger Ebert on doing a film special with President Bill Clinton

Characters & Catchphrases

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Roger Ebert on the origin of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" and trademarking the phrase "two thumbs up"

Fame and Celebrity

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Roger Ebert on how his fame affected his work

Memorable Moments on Television

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Roger Ebert on discussing colorization and a black and white episode of Siskel & Ebert & the Movies

Pop Culture

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Roger Ebert on the origin of "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" and trademarking the phrase "two thumbs up"

Television Industry

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Roger Ebert on how his fame affected his work

Television and the Presidency

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Roger Ebert on doing a film special with President Bill Clinton

We Considered

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Roger Ebert on discussing colorization and a black and white episode of Siskel & Ebert & the Movies
Professions

TV Critic

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Roger Ebert on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television
Genres

Service Shows

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Roger Ebert on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television

Talk Shows

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Roger Ebert on differences of opinions with Gene Siskel on certain movies; on how they affected the fate of films
Roger Ebert on discussing colorization and a black and white episode of Siskel & Ebert & the Movies
Roger Ebert on casting a new critic (Richard Roeper) for the television show to replace Gene Siskel; on working with Roeper
People

Bill Clinton

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Roger Ebert on doing a film special with President Bill Clinton

Thea Flaum

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Roger Ebert on his approach to reviewing a film in print and for television, and early influence of producer Thea Flaum

Jay Leno

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Roger Ebert on Jay Leno being a huge film fan
Roger Ebert on comedy skits he's done for Jay Leno and David Letterman

David Letterman

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Roger Ebert on comedy skits he's done for Jay Leno and David Letterman

Joan Rivers

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Roger Ebert on appearing on a Joan Rivers' show

Richard Roeper

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Roger Ebert on casting a new critic (Richard Roeper) to replace Gene Siskel
Roger Ebert on his chemistry with Richard Roeper
Roger Ebert on his dynamic with Richard Roeper and how it differed from that with Gene Siskel

Martin Scorsese

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Roger Ebert on guest reviewers on Siskel & Ebert & the Movies after Siskel's death

Tom Shales

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Roger Ebert on film critic Tom Shales possibly sitting in for Gene Siskel

Gene Siskel

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Roger Ebert on Gene Siskel
Roger Ebert on how the transition from Tribune to Disney/Buena Vista effected Gene Siskel
Roger Ebert on differences of opinions with Gene Siskel on certain movies; on how they affected the fate of films
Roger Ebert on how contentions his relationship was with Gene Siskel
Roger Ebert on discussing colorization and a black and white episode of Siskel & Ebert & the Movies
Roger Ebert on Gene Siskel's death and legacy
Roger Ebert on his dynamic with Richard Roeper and how it differed from that with Gene Siskel
Roger Ebert on his dynamic with Richard Roeper and how it differed from that with Gene Siskel
Roger Ebert on he and Gene Siskel taping a voiceover for The Critic

Howard Stern

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Roger Ebert on appearing on Howard Stern's show

Jack Valenti

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Roger Ebert on debating the film rating system with the MPAA's Jack Valenti

Oprah Winfrey

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Roger Ebert on appearing on Oprah Winfrey's morning show in Baltimore

All Interviews

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