Film critic Roger Ebert dies*

ebert.jpgThe Pulitzer Prize winner had been battling cancer for years, He was 70. From the Chicago Sun-Times, the paper he wrote for since 1975:

For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Roger Ebert, who passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative, or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers. "No good film is too long," he once wrote, a sentiment he felt strongly enough about to have engraved on pens. "No bad movie is short enough." Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation's most prominent and influential film critic, died Thursday in Chicago. He had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.

*The Chicago Tribune on how Ebert and partner Gene Siskel launched their second careers as movie critics for TV:

The early shows now appear as crude and unpolished as some of the shows on cable access. But at the time it was refreshing. Here were two men who, in physical appearance and personality, were unlike anything else on the tube. These were not the typically neatly coiffed and sun-brushed talking heads. And they were not prim and polite; they argued. Their enthusiasm for and knowledge of movies was palpable, and by providing clips from current releases they were giving viewers a consumer-friendly, witty, intelligent and entertaining package. Still, few could have predicted either the eventual success of the show or the natural fit of the two personalities; they were uncannily well-matched and early on showed the ability to turn debate into an art. The show became more popular with each season, taking a new name, "Sneak Previews," and gaining a national audience when it was syndicated on PBS in 1978 and where it would become for a time the most highly rated show in PBS history. In 1982, the pair signed with Tribune Entertainment and renamed the program "At the Movies." In 1986 they were lured into the fold of Buena Vista Television, a division of the Walt Disney Co., and changed the show's name to "Siskel & Ebert at the Movies."

*From the LAT obit:

With professional help, Ebert had lost about 100 pounds but was frustrated that people linked his initial weight loss to his cancer. The once-robust, stout and avuncular critic had given way to a much frailer man who relished the voice he still had through the written word. "It is saving me," he said in 2010 in Esquire. Ebert often said what he admired most about Siskel was his obvious love for his wife and children. When Ebert married Chaz Hammelsmith, an attorney, in 1992, she was a divorced mother of two in her 40s. He was 50. He was "so grateful to have a family," Marsha Jordan, a Chicago television producer, said in 2005. "This woman came along at a time when she brought exactly what he needed." Ebert's wife survives him. At the conclusion of his final blog post this week, Ebert wrote, "On this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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