As I look at the date, I realize I was named film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times forty years ago today. I had no idea I was embarking on a lifelong career, but I was, and I can't think of a better one.
Now here I am with another milestone. Nine months ago I was leaving Northwestern Memorial hospital after surgery for salivary cancer. I was planning to be back in action in a few weeks, but unfortunately, there were complications, and more medical procedures resulted. I was in bed so long that I experienced serious deconditioning that led to a stint at the famous Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
I began my rehabilitation there, and I am continuing it, along with an overhaul of my general health, at the Pritikin Center in Florida. Also, because of a tracheostomy, my speaking voice is on hold until my upcoming completion surgery. I am feeling better every day and my wife Chaz says we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
During this difficult period it was important for me to write some reviews for the Sun-Times, and I was happy to continue my "Outguess Ebert" contest for the Academy Awards. It was also important for me to make contributions to WLS, ABC-7. At "Ebert & Roeper" with my approval we are using a revolving selection of critics and filmmakers to spar with my partner, Richard Roeper, and I tune in, just like you, to be entertained and informed. After the autumn publication of "Awake in the Dark" and "Movie Yearbook 2007" I have yet another new book being published this month: "Your Movie Sucks," reviews of movies I hated.
I am happy to say my Ninth Annual Overlooked Film Festival will be held as scheduled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign April 25-29. I'll be there, but friends and colleagues will take over the onstage Q&A duties. I'll watch from the audience. I think of the festival as the first step on my return to action. Because I will be under scrutiny there, I'll tell you what to expect: a sick guy, getting better, who still loves the movies and the festival.
This has been a long and unexpected ordeal, made better by many kind and gifted doctors and nurses, led by the incomparable Dr. Harold Pelzer, Dr. Robert Havey, and Dr Neil Fine, and above all by the selfless and loving care of my wife, Chaz.
I plan to gradually increase my duties in the months to come. I still love writing about the movies. Forty years is not enough.