I remember, growing up, watching the classic show Siskel & Ebert, hosted by the late Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert, & seeing how much passion each of them had for the movies they reviewed. As a matter of fact, there were times when their arguments got so heated; you would have thought they wanted to physically beat the hell out of each other.
Unfortunately, Gene Siskel passed away in 1999. Eventually, the show was renamed At the Movies with Roger Ebert & Richard Roeper, as Roeper became the new co-host & permanent replacement for the late Gene Siskel. As great of a film critic as Richard Roeper is, his chemistry with Roger Ebert was not the same as Siskel’s chemistry with Ebert, unfortunately. The reason why the chemistry was not the same was because Ebert & Roeper never disagreed on films the way Siskel & Ebert did.
Sadly, after co-hosting the show first with Gene Siskel & then later with Richard Roeper, Roger Ebert was forced to leave the show after 20 years in 2006 because of his battle with thyroid cancer.
Then, in 2008, after being on the air for 22 years, both Roger Ebert & Richard Roeper decided not to renew their contracts for At the Movies. As a result, the balcony was closed permanently, even though the show would continue on with different hosts as well as a different set.
After being off TV for a few years, Roger Ebert made his first television appearance on the March 2nd edition of Oprah. Unfortunately, because of Roger’s battle with cancer, he lost his lower jaw. As a result, he can no longer eat, drink, or speak.
The poor man has been through so much in his life. First, he lost his best friend Gene Siskel. Then, he lost his show because of his battle with cancer. Finally, he lost his ability to speak, eat, & drink also because of his battle with cancer.
The good news is, although he can’t talk, not only is Roger now cancer free & feeling well, but also not even losing his ability to speak can silence him. As a matter of fact, he now uses his laptop to communicate. He types in what he wants to say onto the computer & a computerized voice speaks for him. Another positive for Roger is that this company is recording his voice from the hundreds of hours they have from Siskel & Ebert & At the Movies in order to make the voice sound more like him. Obviously you can only get so many words from those shows. Therefore, for any word they need, they would put to syllables to form a word.
Roger Ebert is a true inspiration to us all. He is responsible for making me want to become a film critic. Even though the man lost his best friend, his show, & his lower jaw, he still gives thumbs up, indicating that he’s feeling terrific. It’s too bad we’ll never see him reviewing movies on TV anymore as those days with Gene Siskel were classic.