Richard Roeper and Roger Ebert announced that they were officially leaving their movie-review show, “At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper.”
The move has been expected as Ebert has been unable to speak since undergoing a series of operations to treat his thyroid cancer. Some reports of the change made it sound as if the future of the show was unclear and that Ebert and Roeper decided to hang up their thumbs. Others make it clear that they didn’t.
First, the “Two Thumps Up” phrase will still be owned by Ebert and Gene Siskel’s estate. Second, they were pushed. Variety’s Anne Thompson reports:
During negotiations to extend Richard Roeper’s contract for “At the Movies,” Disney ABC Domestic Television abruptly ended the talks. Thus Roeper, followed by the show’s co-founder, Roger Ebert, left the show.
Ebert’s statement on the Chicago Sun-Times Web site said he was ending his relationship with the show because the producers decided to “take the program in a new direction.” Now Thompson tells us what that direction is: young and inexperienced.
On Tuesday, Disney ABC will announce that E! Entertainment critic Ben Lyons and Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz will take over hosting duties on a revamped At the Movies aimed at a younger demo. I have never seen either of these guys. But the hue and cry tomorrow is going to be fun to watch. The older target demo for Ebert and Roeper will cry foul. And the younger demo probably doesn’t care!
Both Lyons and Mankiewicz are the descendants of more knowledgeable movie folks: legendary critic Jeffrey Lyons and Herman Mankiewicz (the writer of Citizen Kane). And that’s about all they have in the way of qualifications: good genes. Sure they both have current gigs reviewing movies, but neither has the stature or experience of Ebert or Roeper.
What this means for either of the Bens’ current gigs we don’t know, but to familiarise you with their work, we’ve embedded clips of Lyons and Mankiewicz below. Sidenote to Disney: Please don’t name your new show something awful like “Ben & Ben at the Movies.”
*According to IMDB, Mankiewicz isn’t that young, but he’s no Roger Ebert or Richard Roeper
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