Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some people I will always miss

Back when I was still acting, I dreamed of the day when my face would be immortalized by none other than Al Hirschfeld.

Even from when I was very little, I was amazed how in a few simple pen strokes he could so vividly capture the essence of an individual. I was determined to be one of those individuals. Sadly, that was not to be.

About the same time, a program that originated in Chicago began broadcasting nationwide. It was called "Sneak Previews", and was hosted by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. I never missed a show. If they gave their signature "two thumbs up" I was sure to see that film. If they gave a "thumbs down", forget it.

I loved the banter between them. They had decidedly opposite taste in what kinds of films they liked, and they often got into heated debates about the virtures of their particular favorite movie of the week.

Tragically, in 1999 Gene Siskel passed away from complications during brain surgery. That left Roger Ebert to find a new partner. Several came and went, but the chemistry was never quite the same.

When Roger Ebert fell ill in 2002 with cancer in his co-host Richard Roeper took over the lead spot of the show, now re-named "At the Movies", and he began having a series of fellow film critics come in to second him on the show.

With the loss of Gene Siskel, and then the departure of Roger Ebert, the magic was gone. Richard Roeper's delivery is entirely too snarkey for my taste, and although most of his co-hosts were quite pleasant, they proved no match to Roeper's incredible ego.

But all this is now a moot point. Roeper hasn't renewed his contract with Disney, and Ebert -- even though he hasn't been on air in quite some time -- also followed suit, not renewing his contract.

There are rumors Roger Ebert is thinking about hosting a new program -- not with Disney, of course -- but for the moment they are simply rumors.


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