'Ebert & Roeper' Web site to post movie reviews

Thursday, August 2, 2007

CHICAGO -- For someone who can't talk, film critic Roger Ebert is making a lot of noise -- at times in a British accent.

Open a newspaper and his reviews are in there. He's published three books since last fall and has two more on the way. All the while, he's recuperating from cancer surgery and a subsequent operation that left him unable to speak.

"I'm writing as much as ever," Ebert said in a Wednesday interview, during which an electronic voice with a British accent spoke the words he typed onto a laptop computer.

And now he's adding a page to the "Ebert & Roeper" Web site that is all thumbs: His, the late Gene Siskel's, Richard Roeper's and those of others who have been filling in on the movie review show.

Touted as the largest collection of video-based movie reviews online, www.AtTheMoviesTV.com will include 5,000 movie reviews and span more than 20 years of the program that made the thumb the most prestigious of digits.

Starting today, the site will offer visitors a chance to watch spirited -- sometimes really spirited -- discussions about movies that always ended with reviewers assigning them a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" designation.

"You can tell when we were mad at each other and when we were together against the world," Ebert, 65, said of his longtime partner, Siskel.

Observers can see just how often Siskel, the Chicago Tribune's film critic, and Ebert, his counterpart at the Chicago Sun-Times, disagreed and how passionately they did so on "Siskel & Ebert at the Movies." They can also see "Ebert & Roeper."

And they can see more recent shows featuring Roeper and guest reviewers including Jay Leno and New York Times film critic A.O. Scott.

They can see the time Ebert said he got "worked up" when Siskel didn't send his thumb north for "Apocalypse Now." Or the time the two heaped praise on the documentary "Hoop Dreams," smiling at the memory of how the "Oscar judges turned it off after 15 minutes."

Then there is the memory of the enthusiastic thumbs up both he and Roeper gave "Monster." If that doesn't sound like such a big deal, given that the movie earned Charlize Theron an Academy Award for best actress, Ebert said that at the time they gave their review, "'Monster' wasn't necessarily going to theaters at all."

For himself, Ebert, who has been the film critic for the Sun-Times since 1967 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975, said he has no plans to stop seeing movies and reviewing them. He also wouldn't mind reviewing something else he really likes: Food.

"I would love to go to Steak 'n Shake for a steak burger, fries and milk shake," he said. "I watched Chaz at Steak 'n Shake Friday. It was not easy."

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