Thursday, April 4, 2013

Roger Ebert dead at 70; became world's most widely-read movie reviewer; was early Google investor and told AM Chicago hostess, Oprah Winfrey, that she should syndicate her show

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Ebert, the first Pulitzer Prize-winning movie critic, worked for the same paper, the Chicago Sun-Times, for more than 46 years, wrote 17 books and co-hosted, under various titles and management and with assorted hosts, the most influential movie review show on TV.
     Though a wonderful writer and a smart, insightful cinema analyst, he embraced the phrase "movie reviewer," not "film critic," as did Pauline Kael, an early mentor.
     As anyone who followed him on twitter, read his phenomenally popular blog (one of the most widely-read in the world) and kept up with his reviews knew, he was unbelievably prolific. He seemed to type and edit faster than lesser mortals could read.
Mr. Ebert wrote more books than any TV personality since Steve Allen — 17 in all. Not only collections of reviews, both good and bad, and critiques of great movies, but humorous film term glossaries and even a novel, “Behind the Phantom’s Mask,” that was serialized in the Sun-Times. He even wrote a book about rice cookers, The Pot and How to Use It, despite the fact that he could no longer eat. In 2011 his autobiography, “Life Itself” won rave reviews. “This is the best thing Mr. Ebert has ever written,” Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times. It is, fittingly enough, being made into a movie, produced by his longtime friend, Martin Scorsese.

     In the early 1980s Ebert briefly went out with the hostess of a modest local TV show called “AM Chicago.” Over dinner at the Hamburger Hamlet, he suggested to Oprah Winfrey that she syndicate her show.
     In 1999, Ebert's celebrated TV cohost, Gene Siskel, died after complications from brain surgery at 53.
     “I remember after we first started out,” Ebert recalled at the time, “and we were on a talk show and this old actor Buddy Rogers said to us, `The trouble with you guys is that you have a sibling rivalry.' We did. He was like a brother, and I loved him that way.”
     Below is behind-the-scenes video which perfectly illustrates that:

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