The show that made Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert the most famous film critics in the world is carrying on -- but with real critics.
Siskel died a decade ago, and Ebert had to leave the show in 2006 when cancer surgery robbed him of his ability to speak. Richard Roeper, Ebert's fellow Sun-Timeser, carried on with a variety of guest hosts, but last year Disney, which owns the show, decided to go in a "new" direction.
It turned out their new direction was with a couple of twentysomething hipsters with more attitude than critical standing. Not surprisingly, "At the Movies" took a nose dive.
Now things are being set to right. Phil Rosenthal over at the ChiTrib has got the scoop on the replacements: A.O. Scott of the New York Times, and Michael Phillips of the Trib. Both are respected critics with years of experience.
“We tried something new last season and we think the world of Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz," said Brian Frons, who oversees ABC Media Productions as president of daytime for the Disney-ABC Television Group. "They did everything we asked of them and they have been complete professionals. However, we’ve decided to return the show to its original essence – two traditional film critics discussing current motion picture and DVD releases. We thank them for their hard work and dedication this past year and wish them nothing but the best on all of their future endeavors.”
The only downside is that they won't be able to use the famous thumbs-up/thumbs-down symbols, which Ebert and Siskel's estate owns.