Since his vocally crippling surgeries, Ebert has remained a force for insightful movie criticism,* and blossomed as a prolific blogger whose value extends beyond determining how great or shitty the newest film at the cineplex is this week. He’s morphed from a lovable film critic to a symbol of grace during trying times, and the humility he’s displayed over the past few years is inspiring. This is why it’s so pleasant to read one of his latest blog posts, which details the process of acquiring the new facial prosthetic he’ll be using on the upcoming relaunch of At The Movies.
Getting the prosthetic has been a long-running effort that involved a great deal of trail-and-error, research, and brilliant doctoral artisanship. I admire Ebert’s attitude towards the device, which is very matter-of-fact and removed from any desperation to be “normal.” As he puts it-
“I will wear the prosthesis on the new television show. That’s not to fool anyone, because my appearance is widely known. It will be used in a medium shot of me working in my office, and will be a pleasant reminder of the person I was for 64 years. Symbolically, it’s as if my illness never happened and, hey, here I still am, on the show with these new kids. When people see the “Roger’s Office” segment, they’ll notice my voice more than my appearance.”
This is certainly preferable to the Lincoln-esque beard idea he had originally.
At The Movies will premiere tonight at 8:30 on PBS, the schedule for which you can find here. Supposedly all of the episodes will be viewable from the At The Movies website after they air. What reviews I’ve read of the first episode are guardedly positive, suggesting that the hosts will definitely have to loosen up and get comfortable to try and replicate any kind of dynamic like the original hosts once had. It’s great to have Ebert out there though, bringing his considerable energy to the screen again- even if his Macbook must speak for him.
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*That is not to say the man is perfect- he frequently remembers details incorrectly and has the occasional baffling tangent, but there’s still no one better at elaborating about what makes a good movie great.