Curtain Falling On At The Movies
The Walt Disney Company's syndication unit, Disney/ABC Domestic TV, announced Tuesday that it will drop its movie critic series At the Movies after 24 years. It originally debuted on public television in 1975 with Chicago newspaper film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel (who died in 1999). In its most recent iteration, it has featured A. O. Scott of the New York Times and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune. While some bloggers speculated that the show was being canceled because Disney no longer wished to expose itself to possible bad reviews on its own TV show, Roger Ebert, in a message on his website Wednesday, wrote "Was I sad today when " At the Movies was canceled? You bet I was. I received a nice phone call from two of the Disney executives in charge, who had been aboard since Day One, and that was a kindness. Week in and week out since 1980, Disney produced a weekly movie review program, and to my certain knowledge never once tried to influence the reviews of any its movies." Nevertheless, he said, he is going ahead with plans to launch a new movie review show, which, he said, will be called Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies and that, after holding video tests in Los Angeles two weeks ago, he has decided who will be the two co-hosts. (He did not disclose who they will be.) He did indicate, however, that although he will be unable to participate in the discussions via his new computer-generated voice ("No one can type fast enough for conversational repartée"), he does intend to offer "voice-over narration" on the new show with such things as "Great Movies segments or a wrap-up from Cannes or Toronto.".