It leaves behind a lingering grace note about family matters that befits any era.
Roger and I thank you for joining us as we talked about the movies each week this past year. We have enjoyed producing Ebert Presents At The Movies and hope to continue sometime in 2012. This week we produced our last show.
It is the Best and Worst Movies of 2011 and begins airing Friday night, December 30, at 8:30 pm on WTTW, Channel 11 in Chicago, and all during the weekend and next week on public television stations across the nation. (Check local listings to find out what time it comes on in your town.)
In January of this year we brought back the show that Thea Flaum and Roger and Gene Siskel started 35 years ago at WTTW. Roger made the decision to bring it back to public television after it had been broadcast successfully at Tribune Entertainment and Disney Buena Vista Television for years.
We were fortunate to find two smart and entertaining critics (Christy Lemire of The Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at Mubi.com) to sit in the main chairs previously inhabited by Roger and Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper. For the previous different version of the show we also acknowledge our friends and colleagues Michael Phillips and A. O. Scott whom Roger recommended; and prior to that Ben Mankiewicz and Ben Lyons.
The only problem is that, unlike 35 years ago, there were no funds to produce the show. We were fortunate to have American Public Television distribute it for us, but that didn't come with any dollars attached. So, except for a generous grant from the Kanbar Charitable Trust, Roger and I have been funding the show ourselves.
And you know what, it's been a gas! We had so much fun doing it, and have no regrets. We have established a foundation for charitable giving to education, the arts and organizations that help with children and families. We will one day fund the Ebert Center for Film Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana. Our way of spending our "mad money" was to fund the show in which we believed so fervently.
That was possibly a foolish thing to do, but we made a commitment for one year. Now that year is over. It finds us a little poorer, but tremendously proud and happy about what we produced. Now its time to find sponsors or another network or platform that will allow the show to continue.
So: Hello, there sponsors! And foundations, too! Do you want to see yourself advertised to one million smart moviegoers across the country, every week for 52 weeks a year, at a very reasonable price? You can contact me directly at email@example.com, or telephone 773-528-7700.
When the show comes back we want to be able to make increased use of our Contributing Correspondents to do additional innovative special segments. If you go to Ebertpresents.com you will see entertaining and educational segments by the amusing Matt Singer on technology and the movies; by the talented Kartina Richardson on the passion of dissecting the movies; by the esteemed Jeff Greenfield on politics and the movies; by the focused Alison Bailes on ecology and the movies; by the astute Nell Minow on corporations in the movies; by Professor Annette Insdorf and our Paris correspondent Lisa Nesselson on the Cannes Film Festival; by the informed David Poland on Stanley Kubrick; by the lawyer Omar Moore on "The Wrong Man;" by the classic film expert Kim Morgan on "The Third Man;" by our travelling correspondent Kevin B. Lee on Chinese Cinema; by the dynamic Kid Critic Jackson Murphy on 3D; by our Associate Producer Jay Smith on Race And The Movies, by Dann Gire on Angela Bassett; by Roger and even occasionally, Yours Truly!
We wanted this new incarnation of the show to go both wide and deep; and when we return we have even more surprises in store for you.
We were prepared to take your advice and start a Kickstarter campaign, but right now we are still involved in efforts which, if successful, may result in keeping the show on the air in another way.
We thank you for letting us know you value the show, and we thank the cable, network and industry executives who reached out to us to see if we could find a workable solution. During this holiday season we will take some time off as well, but we will keep you informed in this space.
You can also join The Ebert Club to keep up with the news.
Now go to the movies and enjoy yourselves. Happy Holidays--and here's wishing you Peace and Health and Prosperity in the New Year. But above all, I wish you Joy!
Go to our Ebert Presents web site to view all of our reviews this year, including the Best & Worst Show (being posted Friday night). Search reviews alphabetically under "View all movie reviews."
Snapshots from our Wrap Party in the same studio at WTTW/Chicago where Roger and Gene began on "Sneak Previews" in 1976:
Backstage and control room photos by Keith Pegues from our last day's shoot.