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About Me

A blog wherein a literary agent will sometimes discuss his business, sometimes discuss the movies he sees, the tennis he watches, or the world around him. In which he will often wish he could say more, but will be obliged by business necessity and basic politeness and simple civility to hold his tongue. Rankings are done on a scale of one to five Slithy Toads, where a 0 is a complete waste of time, a 2 is a completely innocuous way to spend your time, and a 4 is intended as a geas compelling you to make the time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sneak Previews

After 35 years, At the Movies nee Ebert & Roeper nee Siskel & Ebert nee Sneak Previews has been cancelled and will air its final episode in mid-August.

Way back then, my parents and I might often watch together on PBS, which was where the show started. It was a clever idea, to take two critics from rival newspapers in Chicago, and have them hash out the new film releases on air. The opening with Siskel and Ebert picking up their rival papers freshly delivered at a newsstand is a relic of a day when newspapers were a lot more relevant than they are now, and when you still had a lot of two newspaper cities where the whole idea of rival papers resonated.

And this is the show that introduced (or at least in a big way) the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down idea to the world.

After around ten years Siskel and Ebert decided to make real money doing the show and it moved to syndication under the Disney auspices. Gene Siskel passed away, and after trying out an awful lot of people he was replaced with Richard Roeper, a Chicago Sun Times columnist. Ebert got cancer which effected his speaking. He still goes strong writing excellent film reviews but gave up the show, and then Roeper did the tryout thing settling on reviewer Michael Phillips. Then Disney decided to modernize the show and the 2008-09 season was unwatchable. Realizing their mistake they reverted to form with Phillips and NY Times critic AO Scott this year, and it's at least been a good final season. Because of intellectual property issues with Siskel and Ebert and their trademark for the Two Thumbs Up thing, it will leave with a See It/Skip It/Rent It kind of thing going on.

As the show moved around on the dial, it got harder and harder sometimes to find where it went when a syndication contract with Channel 11 would end and off it would go Channel 7. In its most recent years on Channel 5 is was subject to delays and preemption from Fox football and basketball games. So it isn't something I watched faithfully every week, but other than the one Bad Year in 2008-09 it's something I've always enjoyed, and I'll miss it.

Roger Ebert is planning some new show of similar like, and we'll see if/how that comes together.

1 comment:

Ricky Bush said...

Yeah, I'm with you! I could always depend on those guys to steer me straight with what I should spend my time watching.