Roger Ebert
American film critic
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American journalist, film critic and screenwriter, who has been described by Forbes as "the most powerful pundit in America". He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize, as well as the first to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Biography
Roger Ebert's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Roger Ebert from around the web
Still Showing Her Sexy Sadie Side, Dana Fuchs Sets the Stage to Rise and Shine
Huffington Post - 19 days
Whatever happened to Sexy Sadie? Embodied by Dana Fuchs, she's alive and well and ready to knock your socks off -- if you let her. "I would love people to know that I'm first and foremost a songwriter, a singer, and it's very much like that Sadie character," Fuchs said from her Harlem apartment near the end of an hourlong phone conversation in late January while expecting some terrible weather to hit New York City. "But of course, it's my own music," she added, a bad cold making her deep voice sound even lower and sexier. "It's that kind of raw, rocking, soulful music, and I would love people to know that Sadie is Dana Fuchs, who is living as a musician." It's been 10 years since Fuchs (pronounced Fyooks) made her motion picture mark as Sadie, a powerful blues singer, very hip chick and Earth Mother in Across the Universe. Julie Taymor's wonderfully innovative and inexcusably ignored movie set in the 1960s was filled with teen romance, wild imagery and incredibly inventi ...
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Huffington Post article
Maybe 'Space Jam' Was Just A Cynical, Highly Successful Money Grab?
Huffington Post - 3 months
To say “Space Jam” has developed into a cult hit in the two decades since it was released would be something of an understatement. For people of a certain age, “Space Jam,” which was released 20 years ago on Tuesday, became a central marker of their childhoods. The film’s plot is simple enough: Bugs Bunny and the other Looney Tunes characters enlist Michael Jordan to stave off the Monstars in a basketball game to help them earn their freedom from the evil Swackhammer. Along the way, Jordan falls back in the love with the game that he had left for baseball. Bill Murray is in the film. Wayne Knight, too. The combination of Jordan, then the most popular athlete in the world, and Bugs (and Lola) Bunny, proved highly effective. The film grossed $90 million domestically and $230 million overall, becoming the most successful basketball movie of all time. Dressing up as the “Tune Squad,” the Looney Tunes characters’ team, has become a Halloween tradition for twenty- and thirty-somethin ...
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Huffington Post article
25 Famous Women On Being Alone
Huffington Post - 5 months
(Photo: Getty Images) By Julie Ma Depending on who you are, the very thought of spending time alone will send your heart racing with delight or despair. For extroverts, alone time can be an almost-withering experience. For introverts, it can be a crucial sanctuary and a chance to recharge. While the days of openly calling single women "old maids," "spinsters," or "cat ladies" are nearing extinction, the social stigma surrounding ladies who are uncoupled by choice or by chance still runs deep. Below, 25 accomplished women -- including Shonda Rhimes and Diane Keaton -- discuss what being alone and living as single, independent women means to them. Related: Does Living Alone Drive You Mad? Shonda Rhimes "I don't know if anyone has noticed, but I only ever write about one thing: being alone. The fear of being alone, the desire to not be alone, the attempts we make to find our person, to keep our person, to convince our person to not leave us alone, the joy of being with ...
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Huffington Post article
Roger Ebert Film Festival revenue declines over past 3 years
Chicago Times - 10 months
A recent report has found that the total net revenue for the Roger Ebert Film Festival presented by the University of Illinois College of Media has declined in each of the last three years. The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that the 2015 event brought in about $111,105, compared with about $125,220...
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Chicago Times article
What David Bowie's Turn As A Sci-Fi Star Can Teach Us About Grief
Huffington Post - about 1 year
In 1976, British filmmaker Nicolas Roeg directed the cult science-fiction film "The Man Who Fell to Earth." The movie, based on Walter Tevis' 1963 novel of the same name, tells the story of Thomas Jerome Newton, a human-like extraterrestrial who, in a search for water for his drought-riddled home planet, finds himself tragically marooned on Earth. In one of the most fated casting choices in cinematic history, the starring role went to the late David Bowie, the musician who rose to fame on the wings of a song dubbed "Space Oddity" and would go on to adopt the mythic pseudonym, Ziggy Stardust.  "Bowie, slender, elegant, remote, evokes this alien so successfully that one could say, without irony, this was a role he was born to play," Roger Ebert wrote in 2011. As a result, critics like Joshua Rothkopf called the film "the most intellectually provocative genre film of the 1970s." As Newton, Bowie acts out the travails of a hyper-intelligent being transitioning from doomed t ...
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Huffington Post article
Interviewing Hamill, Fisher and Ford in 1977 Before 'The Force' Was With Them
Huffington Post - about 1 year
The box office news just keeps on comin'. Having already passed $1 billion in ticket sales faster than any movie in history, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set to overtake Avatar as the highest grossing film of all time within days. I watched it a couple of days ago in a movie theater that features seats that vibrate, wobble and rock along with the action onscreen. One youngster was so unnerved by the first jolt that he leapt from his $15 seat and onto his mother's lap. But I wobbled along merrily throughout, my enjoyment of this current installment enhanced by a memory that none of the other enthralled audience members could share. You see, in 1977 I interviewed the three actors most were waiting to see more than all the rest: Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. It was just another last minute assignment at the time. In fact, the first Star Wars had not yet been released when my old Chicago Sun Times pal, the late Roger Ebert left two oversized preview tickets ...
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Huffington Post article
Here's How Critics Felt About The Original 'Star Wars' In 1977
Huffington Post - about 1 year
At last, the big week is here. After more than a year's worth of teasers, magazine covers and cryptic plot hints, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is mere days from being unleashed upon the globe. Some pundits say it could become the highest-grossing movie of all time -- a fate no one would have predicted in the early blockbuster days of 1977, even after the first installment surpassed "Jaws" to set its own box-office record. And before it was subtitled "Episode IV: A New Hope" (that didn't occur until its 1981 re-release, a year after "The Empire Strikes Back" opened), the original "Star Wars" was the subject of unprecedented frenzy. Critics, for the most part, adored the film, calling it "spellbinding" and "quietly sophisticated." While George Lucas' space opera was not without detractors (hiya, Pauline Kael), the Oscars followed suit with 10 nominations, including Best Picture. Will the Force be as strong when it awakens in theaters on Thursday night? While you wait to find out, ...
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Huffington Post article
Here's How Critics Felt About The Original 'Star Wars' In 1977
Huffington Post - about 1 year
At last, the big week is upon us. After more than a year's worth of teasers, magazine covers and cryptic plot hints, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is mere days from being unleashed upon the globe. Some pundits say it could become the highest-grossing movie of all time -- a fate no one could have predicted in the early blockbuster days of 1977, when the first installment surpassed "Jaws" to set its own box-office record. And before it was subtitled "Episode IV: A New Hope" (that didn't occur until its 1981 re-release, a year after "The Empire Strikes Back" opened), the original "Star Wars" was the subject of unprecedented frenzy. Critics, for the most part, adored the film, calling it "spellbinding" and "quietly sophisticated." While George Lucas' space opera was not without detractors (hiya, Pauline Kael), the Oscars followed suit with 10 nominations, including Best Picture. Will the Force be as strong when it awakens in theaters on Thursday night? While you wait to find out, her ...
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Huffington Post article
Time to kill? Here are 130 riveting movies you can watch on Netflix right now
Yahoo News - about 1 year
This list is updated monthly to reflect recent availability and to showcase films currently streaming on Netflix, whether talking classics or modern gems. Netflix offers roughly a gazillion different movies available through its streaming platform — well, approximately a gazillion. However, while the landmark service might become surprisingly accurate with its suggestions once you’ve been using it for a while, it’s still often tough to find something worth watching amid the trove of terrible choices.That being the case, we’ve taken the time to wade through the ridiculous amount of content in order to bring you a list of some of the best films currently available on Netflix Instant. Planning your weekend has never been easier. Related: Here’s what’s new on Netflix in December, and what’s going away Choose a genre: Recent Additions Documentaries Comedies Dramas Thrillers & Action Adventure Foreign Sci-Fi & Fantasy Kids Horror Romance New for December 2015 A League of Their Own Pl ...
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Yahoo News article
"99 Homes": Shelter Skelter
Huffington Post - over 1 year
It's painful to watch. Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is evicted from his home in the opening scenes of "99 Homes." The sheriffs knock so loudly at the front door that it is clear that it is no longer his house. When he answers, they serve the eviction notice, running over his meaningless excuses with the force of law that was written for those who don't live from paycheck to paycheck. Right behind the sheriffs are real estate operative Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) and his cold hearted close out crew, cutting utilities and wrenching out appliances. Personal belongings are pulled. The intimate artifacts of daily life are stacked and strewn across the front yard, the internal organs of a family bleeding out of the wound of poverty. Nash has no job to pay his mortgage. He has nowhere to go but a seedy motel full of displaced evictees and the hardcore, angry poor. His mother Lynn (Laura Dern) is in shock, losing her home from which she has been able to run a small beauty shop. Nash's ...
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Huffington Post article
5 Sci-Fi Movies That Should Be Remade
Huffington Post - over 1 year
Sci-fi is possibly the most hit-or-miss genre of film. Done right, it's a thing of beauty: tingling the senses and captivating the imagination. Done wrong, it's cold, tedious, or worse: campy schlock. The below movies fall somewhere in between: interesting enough to be of note all these years later, yet not worthy of universal praise. Methinks they need to be remade -- stat! Dune What happens when you take a well-known sci-fi novel and place the film version in the hands of one of Hollywood's weirdest directors? Dune happens. The folks at Wikipedia describe it as such, "A young man foretold as the 'Kwisatz Haderach' attempts to lead the native Fremen of the titular desert planet to victory over the malevolent House Harkonnen." So uh, that clarifies that. Anyhow, it was a commercial and critical bust upon release, with my main man Roger Ebert calling it "An incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays ...
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Huffington Post article
7 Teen Movies Based On Shakespeare That Would Make Him Roll Over In His Grave
Huffington Post - almost 2 years
Happy birthday, William Shakespeare! Well, happy death day, at least. We observe both the birth and the death of the Bard on the date he died, April 23, though his birthdate has not been confirmed. Billy, not yet rolling in his grave. Here's what we do know: This is the 399th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, and his outsize importance to Western culture looms as large as ever. Christopher Marlowe would be lime-green with envy over the popularity of his one-time rival's plays; there are entire theater troupes devoted to performing Shakespeare, and the finest actors jockey to commit their portrayals of Hamlet and Lady Macbeth to film. Oh, and then there are the remixes. "West Side Story," "Kiss Me, Kate," A Thousand Acres -- many of Shakespeare's plays were themselves retellings of historical events or classic tales, and the appeal of the narratives has only grown with his magical touch. One can't help but wonder, however, if some of these adaptations would make the great ...
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Huffington Post article
4 Controversial Movie Castings That Ultimately Resulted in Triumph
Huffington Post - almost 2 years
Next year, Ben Affleck will become the sixth man to play Batman in a movie. For the first time ever, The Dark Knight will be on the big screen with the Man Of Steel in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. According to the Internet Movie Database, it will be out in late March 2016. Two years ago when the casting of Affleck was first announced, there was so much widespread anger and disappointment that a petition was launched to get the Academy Award-winning producer & screenwriter kicked off the project. Why were people so upset about the idea of Affleck playing Batman? One word: Daredevil. While I'm of the belief that you shouldn't judge a casting until you see the performance, I can understand why fans would rather see someone else play The Dark Knight. Daredevil did suck, after all. And Christian Bale, who played Batman in Christopher Nolan's superb trilogy, is a tough act to follow. Somewhat smothered by all the excitement generated by the recent release of the second ...
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Huffington Post article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Roger Ebert
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2013
    Age 70
    In July 2013, a previously-unpublished review of the film Computer Chess appeared on Ebert's website.
    More Details Hide Details The review had been written in March but had remained unpublished until the film's wide-release date. Matt Zoller Seitz, the editor for Ebert's website, confirmed that there were other unpublished reviews that would be eventually uploaded to the website. A second posthumously-published review, for The Spectacular Now, was published in August 2013. Ebert described his critical approach to films as "relative, not absolute"; he reviewed a film for what he felt it would be to its prospective audience, yet always with at least some consideration as to its value as a whole. He awarded four stars to films of the highest quality, and generally a half star to those of the lowest, unless he considered the film to be "artistically inept" or "morally repugnant", in which case it received no stars. When you ask a friend if Hellboy is any good, you're not asking if it's any good compared to Mystic River, you're asking if it's any good compared to The Punisher. And my answer would be, on a scale of one to four, if Superman is four, then Hellboy is three and The Punisher is two. In the same way, if American Beauty gets four stars, then The United States of Leland clocks in at about two.
    The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival opened with a video tribute of Ebert at Roy Thomson Hall during the world premiere of the WikiLeaks based film The Fifth Estate.
    More Details Hide Details Ebert had been an avid supporter of the festival since its early days. Chaz was in attendance to accept a plaque on Roger's behalf. At the 86th Academy Awards ceremony, Ebert was included in the In Memoriam montage, a rare honor for a film critic. In 2014, the documentary Life Itself was released. Director Steve James, whose films had been widely advocated by Ebert, started making it while the critic was still alive. The film studies Ebert's life and career, while also filming Ebert during his final months, and includes interviews with his family and friends. It was widely praised. Roger Ebert was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2001 in the area of Performing Arts. Each year from 1999 to 2013, except in 2008, Ebert published Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook, a collection of all of his movie reviews from the previous two and a half years (for example, the 2011 edition, ISBN 978-0-7407-9769-9, covers January 2008 – July 2010), as well as essays and other writings. He also wrote the following books:
    In September 2013, organizers in Champaign, Illinois announced plans to raise $125,000 to build a life-size bronze statue of Ebert in the town, which was unveiled in front of the Virginia Theatre at Ebertfest on April 24, 2014.
    More Details Hide Details The composition was selected by his widow, Chaz Ebert, and depicts Ebert sitting in the middle of three theater seats giving a "thumbs up".
    A 2-hour-and-45-minute public tribute, entitled Roger Ebert: A Celebration of Life, was held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at the Chicago Theater.
    More Details Hide Details It featured in-person remembrances, video testimonials, video and film clips, gospel choirs, and was, according to the Chicago Tribunes Mark Caro, "a laughter- and sorrow-filled send-off from the entertainment and media worlds".
    Hundreds attended the April 8, 2013 funeral Mass held at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral, where Ebert was celebrated as a film critic, newspaperman, advocate for social justice, and husband.
    More Details Hide Details Father Michael Pfleger concluded the service with: "the balconies of heaven are filled with angels singing Thumbs Up." His death prompted wide reaction from celebrities both in and out of the entertainment industry. U.S. President Barack Obama wrote, "Roger was the movies... could capture the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical... The movies won't be the same without Roger". Robert Redford called Ebert "one of the great champions of freedom of artistic expression" and said "His personal passion for cinema was boundless, and that is sure to be his legacy for generations to come." Oprah Winfrey called Ebert's death the "end of an era", as did Steven Spielberg, who also said that Ebert's "reviews went far deeper than simply thumbs up or thumbs down. He wrote with passion through a real knowledge of film and film history, and in doing so, helped many movies find their audiences... he put television criticism on the map".
    On April 4, 2013, Ebert died at the age of 70 in Chicago as he was preparing to come home from the hospital.
    More Details Hide Details On April 7, 2013, a private vigil with an open casket was held at the chapel of Graceland Cemetery on the city's north side.
    On April 2, 2013, he announced that he would be taking a "leave of presence" from his duties because the hip fracture was determined to be cancerous and would require radiation treatment.
    More Details Hide Details He remarked, "I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review." Three years before his death, Ebert wrote: Two days before his death, Ebert ended his final blog post by saying, "So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."
    In March 2013, he wrote: "I support freedom of choice.
    More Details Hide Details My choice is to not support abortion, except in cases of a clear-cut choice between the lives of the mother and child. A child conceived through incest or rape is innocent and deserves the right to be born." He also stated: "I consider myself Catholic, lock, stock and barrel, with this technical loophole: I cannot believe in God. I refuse to call myself an atheist however, because that indicates too great a certainty about the unknowable." On April 25, 2011, he achieved one of his long-time goals: winning one of the weekly caption contests in The New Yorker after more than 100 attempts.
  • 2012
    Age 69
    In December 2012, Ebert was hospitalized due to the fractured hip.
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    Ebert endorsed Barack Obama for re-election as President in 2012.
    More Details Hide Details Ebert was critical of intelligent design, and stated that people who believe in either creationism or New Age beliefs such as crystal healing or astrology are not qualified to be President. Ebert also expressed disbelief in pseudoscientific or supernatural claims in general, calling them "woo-woo". Discussing his beliefs, in 2009 Ebert wrote that he did not "want to provide a category for people to apply to him" because he "would not want his convictions reduced to a word", and stated, "I have never said, although readers have freely informed me I am an atheist, an agnostic, or at the very least a secular humanist – which I am". In the same blog entry, he also said "I am not a believer, not an atheist, not an agnostic. I am still awake at night, asking how? I am more content with the question than I would be with an answer."
  • 2011
    Age 68
    By 2011, Ebert was using a prosthetic chin to hide some of the damage done by his many chin, mouth, and throat surgeries.
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  • 2009
    Age 66
    When reviewing the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left, Ebert noted how he had given the controversial 1972 original three and a half stars and declined to make a comparison between the two versions: "I wrote that original "Last House" review 37 years ago.
    More Details Hide Details I am not the same person. I am uninterested in being 'consistent'". Ebert occasionally accused some films of having an unwholesome political agenda, and the word "fascist" was found in some of Ebert's reviews of the law-and-order films of the 1970s such as Dirty Harry. He was wary of films passed off as art, but which he saw as lurid and sensational. He leveled this charge against such films as The Night Porter.
  • 2008
    Age 65
    A further surgery was performed in April 2008 after Ebert fractured his hip in a fall.
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    Ebert underwent further surgery in January 2008 to hopefully restore his voice and address the complications from his previous surgeries.
    More Details Hide Details On April 1, Ebert announced his speech had not been restored.
  • 2007
    Age 64
    In July 2007, he revealed that he was still unable to speak.
    More Details Hide Details Ebert adopted a computerized voice system to communicate, eventually using a copy of his own voice created from his recordings by CereProc. In March 2010, his health trials and new computerized voice were featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Ebert later proposed a test to determine the realism of a synthesized voice.
    He returned to reviewing on May 18, 2007, when three of his reviews were published in print.
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  • 2006
    Age 63
    He was again afflicted with cancer in 2006.
    More Details Hide Details In June of that year, he had surgery to remove cancerous tissue near his right jaw. A week later he had a life-threatening complication when his carotid artery burst near the surgery site. He was confined to bed rest and was unable to speak, eat, or drink for a period of time, necessitating the use of a feeding tube. The complications kept Ebert off the air for an extended period of time. Ebert made his first public appearance since mid-2006 at Ebertfest on April 25, 2007. He was unable to speak, instead communicating through his wife.
  • 2003
    Age 60
    In 2003, he underwent surgery for cancer in his salivary gland, which was followed up by radiation treatment.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 2002
    Age 59
    In early 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer which was successfully removed in February.
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  • 1999
    Age 56
    After Siskel died in 1999, Ebert continued hosting the show with various co-hosts and then, starting in 2000, with Richard Roeper.
    More Details Hide Details In 2005, Ebert became the first film critic to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times said Ebert "was without question the nation's most prominent and influential film critic", Tom Van Riper of Forbes described him as "the most powerful pundit in America", and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times called him "the best-known film critic in America". Ebert lived with cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands from 2002 that required treatments necessitating the removal of his lower jaw, which cost him the ability to speak or eat normally.
  • 1998
    Age 55
    Though not making a personal appearance, an honorary effigy of Ebert co-starred in the 1998 reimagined version of Godzilla, played by actor Michael Lerner as New York City Mayor Ebert.
    More Details Hide Details In the final action scenes of the movie, as the heroes make their escape in a taxi, the cab displays a campaign ad on top portraying a photo of the mayor with a 'thumbs up' alongside the phrase "Re-elect Mayor Ebert".
  • 1997
    Age 54
    He also made an appearance as himself in a 1997 episode of the television series Early Edition, which took place in Chicago.
    More Details Hide Details In the episode, Ebert consoles a young boy who is depressed after he sees a character called Bosco the Bunny die in a movie. In 2003, Ebert had a cameo appearance in the film Abby Singer, in which he recited the white parasol monologue from Citizen Kane. Roger Ebert founded his own film festival, Ebertfest, in his home town of Champaign, Illinois, and was also a regular fixture at the Hawaii International Film Festival. On May 4, 2010, Ebert was announced by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences as the Webby Person of the Year, having taken to the Internet following his battle with cancer. On October 22, 2010, Ebert appeared on camera with Robert Osborne on the Turner Classic Movies network during the network's "The Essentials" series. Ebert chose the films Sweet Smell of Success and The Lady Eve to be shown.
  • 1996
    Age 53
    During a 1996 panel at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Conference on World Affairs, Ebert coined the Boulder Pledge, by which he vowed never to purchase anything offered through the result of an unsolicited email message, or to forward chain emails or mass emails to others.
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  • 1995
    Age 52
    In 1995, Ebert, along with colleague Gene Siskel, guest-starred on an episode of the animated TV series The Critic.
    More Details Hide Details In the episode, Siskel and Ebert split and each wants Jay as his new partner. The episode is a parody of the film Sleepless in Seattle. The following year, Ebert appeared in Pitch, a documentary by Canadian film makers Spencer Rice and Kenny Hotz.
  • 1994
    Age 51
    The Three Colors trilogy (Blue, White, and Red), and Pulp Fiction originally ranked second and third on Ebert's 1994 list; both were included on his "Best Films of the 1990s" list, but their order had reversed.
    More Details Hide Details Ebert was an admirer of director Werner Herzog, whom he supported through many years when Herzog's popularity had declined. He conducted an onstage public "conversation" with Herzog at the Telluride Film Festival in 2004, after a screening of Herzog's film Invincible at the Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival. Herzog dedicated his 2008 film Encounters at the End of the World to Ebert, and Ebert responded with a heartfelt public letter of gratitude. Herzog said he once exhorted Ebert to watch The Anna Nicole Show (which Ebert did) so he could gain a better understanding of the decline in American culture. In 2005, Ebert opined that video games are not art, and are inferior to media created through authorial control, such as film and literature, stating, "video games can be elegant, subtle, sophisticated, challenging and visually wonderful", but "the nature of the medium prevents it from moving beyond craftsmanship to the stature of art". This resulted in negative reaction from video game enthusiasts, such as writer Clive Barker, who defended video games as an art form, stating that they have the power to move people, that the views of book or film critics are less important than those of the consumers experiencing them, and that Ebert's were prejudiced. Ebert responded that the charge of prejudice was merely a euphemism for disagreement, that merely being moved by an experience does not denote it as artistic, and that critics are also consumers.
  • FORTIES
  • 1992
    Age 49
    At age 50, Ebert married trial attorney Charlie "Chaz" Hammelsmith (formerly Chaz Hammel-Smith) in 1992.
    More Details Hide Details He explained in his memoir, Life Itself, that he "would never marry before his mother died", as he was afraid of displeasing her. In a July 2012 blog entry titled "Roger loves Chaz", Ebert wrote, "She fills my horizon, she is the great fact of my life, she has my love, she saved me from the fate of living out my life alone, which is where I seemed to be heading". Chaz Ebert is now vice president of the Ebert Company and has emceed Ebertfest. Ebert was a recovering alcoholic, having quit drinking in 1979. He was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and had written some blog entries on the subject. He was a longtime friend of, and briefly dated, Oprah Winfrey, who credited him with persuading her to syndicate The Oprah Winfrey Show, which became the highest-rated talk show in American television history. He was also friends with film historian and critic Leonard Maltin and considered the book Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide (final update in 2014) to be the standard of film guide books.
  • 1988
    Age 45
    He was dismissive of the popular 1988 Bruce Willis action film Die Hard ("inappropriate and wrongheaded interruptions reveal the fragile nature of the plot"), while his positive 3 out of 4 stars review of 1997's Speed 2: Cruise Control ("Movies like this embrace goofiness with an almost sensual pleasure") is one of only two positive reviews accounting for that film's 3% approval rating on the reviewer aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes (the other having been written by his At The Movies co-star Gene Siskel).
    More Details Hide Details Arguably his most polarizing opinion is of the 1995 crime drama The Usual Suspects which, despite relatively solid reviews from other critics, he gave a rating of one and a half stars and a place on his "Most Hated Films" list. Ebert's reviews were also characterized by what has been called "dry wit". In August 2005, after Rob Schneider insulted Los Angeles Times movie critic Patrick Goldstein (who had criticized Schneider's film Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo) by commenting that Goldstein was unqualified because he had never won the Pulitzer Prize, Ebert intervened by stating that, as a Pulitzer winner, he was qualified to review the film, and bluntly told Schneider, "Your movie sucks." Ebert and Schneider would later reconcile regarding this matter. Ebert commented on films using his Catholic upbringing as a point of reference, and was critical of films he believed were grossly ignorant of or insulting to Catholicism, such as Stigmata and Priest. He also gave favorable reviews of controversial films with themes or references to Jesus and Catholicism, including The Passion of the Christ, The Last Temptation of Christ, and to Kevin Smith's religious satire Dogma. Ebert was described as an agnostic in 2005, but preferred not being "pigeon-holed".
  • 1986
    Age 43
    Ebert's reviews could clash with the overall reception of movies, as evidenced by his one-star review of the celebrated 1986 David Lynch film Blue Velvet ("marred by sophomoric satire and cheap shots … in a way, Lynch's behavior is more sadistic than the Hopper character").
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    In 1986, they again moved the show to new ownership, creating Siskel & Ebert & The Movies through Buena Vista Television, part of the Walt Disney Company.
    More Details Hide Details After Siskel's death in 1999, the producers retitled the show Roger Ebert & the Movies and used rotating co-hosts. In September 2000, Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper became the permanent co-host and the show was renamed At The Movies With Ebert & Roeper and later At the Movies. Ebert ended his association with the Disney-owned At The Movies in July 2008, after the studio indicated it wished to take the program in a new direction. On February 18, 2009, Ebert reported that he and Roeper would soon announce a new movie-review program, and reiterated this plan after Disney announced that the program's last episode would air in August 2010. On January 31, 2009, Ebert was made an honorary life member of the Directors Guild of America. His final television series, Ebert Presents: At the Movies, premiered on January 21, 2011, with Ebert contributing a review voiced by Bill Kurtis in a brief segment called "Roger's Office", as well as featuring more traditional film reviews in the "At The Movies" format presented by Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1982
    Age 39
    In 1982, they moved from PBS to launch a similar syndicated commercial television show named At The Movies With Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert.
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  • 1975
    Age 32
    In 1975, Ebert began co-hosting a weekly film review television show, Sneak Previews, which was locally produced by the Chicago public broadcasting station WTTW.
    More Details Hide Details Three years later, Gene Siskel became a co-host when the show was picked up by PBS for national distribution. The duo became famous for their "thumbs up/thumbs down" review summaries. Siskel and Ebert trademarked the phrase "Two Thumbs Up".
  • TWENTIES
  • 1970
    Age 27
    Ebert co-wrote the screenplay for the 1970 Russ Meyer film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and sometimes joked about being responsible for the film, which was poorly received on its release which has become a cult classic.
    More Details Hide Details Ebert and Meyer also made Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens, Up!, and other films, and were involved in the ill-fated Sex Pistols movie Who Killed Bambi? In April 2010, Ebert posted his screenplay of Who Killed Bambi? aka Anarchy in the UK on his blog.) From the 1970s onwards, Ebert worked for the University of Chicago as a guest lecturer, teaching a night class on film. As an example of his work as a lecturer, his fall 2005 class was on the work of the German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
  • 1969
    Age 26
    In 1969, his review of Night of the Living Dead was published in Reader's Digest.
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  • 1967
    Age 24
    He also met film critic Pauline Kael for the first time at the New York Film Festival in 1967.
    More Details Hide Details After he sent her some of his columns, she told him they were "the best film criticism being done in American newspapers today". That same year, Ebert's first book, a history of the University of Illinois titled Illini Century: One Hundred Years of Campus Life, was published by the University's press.
    Ebert began his career as a film critic in 1967, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times.
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    After movie critic Eleanor Keane left the Sun-Times in April 1967, editor Robert Zonka gave the job to Ebert.
    More Details Hide Details The load of graduate school and being a film critic proved too much, so Ebert left the University of Chicago to focus his energies on film criticism.
  • 1966
    Age 23
    Instead Kogan referred Ebert to the city editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, Jim Hoge, who hired Ebert as a reporter and feature writer at the Sun-Times in 1966.
    More Details Hide Details He attended doctoral classes at the University of Chicago while working as a general reporter at the Sun-Times for a year.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1961
    Age 18
    One of the first movie reviews he ever wrote was a review of La Dolce Vita, published in The Daily Illini in October 1961.
    More Details Hide Details Ebert spent a semester as a master's student in the department of English there before attending the University of Cape Town on a Rotary fellowship for a year. He returned from Cape Town to his graduate studies at Illinois for two more semesters and then, after being accepted as a PhD candidate at the University of Chicago, he prepared to move to Chicago. He needed a job to support himself while he worked on his doctorate and so applied to the Chicago Daily News, hoping that, as he had already sold freelance pieces to the Daily News, including an article on the death of writer Brendan Behan, he would be hired by editor Herman Kogan.
  • 1960
    Age 17
    Ebert began taking classes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an early-entrance student, completing his high-school courses while also taking his first university class. After graduating from Urbana High School in 1960, Ebert then attended and received his undergraduate degree in 1964.
    More Details Hide Details While at the University of Illinois, Ebert worked as a reporter for the Daily Illini and then served as its editor during his senior year while also continuing to work as a reporter for the News-Gazette of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois (he had begun at the News-Gazette at age 15 covering Urbana High School sports). As an undergraduate, he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and president of the U.S. Student Press Association.
  • 1958
    Age 15
    In 1958, he won the Illinois High School Association state speech championship in "radio speaking", an event that simulates radio newscasts.
    More Details Hide Details Regarding his early influences in film criticism, Ebert wrote in the 1998 parody collection Mad About the Movies:
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1942
    Born
    Born on June 18, 1942.
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