Movie reviewers Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper have made it official: They’re leaving their eponymous TV program. In a statement posted on his website on Monday, Ebert said that Disney, the producer of Ebert & Roeper, has decided to take the show ”in a new direction” and that he won’t be associated with it. ”The show was a wonderful experience,” he wrote. ”It was a great loss to me when surgery in July 2006 made it impossible for me to appear on the air any longer.”
Though active behind the scenes for the past two years while recovering from thyroid cancer, Ebert recently tussled with Disney over the use of the iconic ”Thumbs” grading system, to which he holds the trademark with the widow of his late on-air partner, Gene Siskel. ”The thumbs will return. We are discussing possibilities, and plan to continue the show’s tradition.” The Pulitzer Prize-winning Ebert will continue to write film commentary for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Roeper, who came aboard after Siskel died in 1999, had been hosting the show with a succession of guest critics during Ebert’s absence, but he didn’t reach an agreement on a new contract. An article in Sunday’s Chicago Sun-Times, for which Roeper continues to write a column, said that his final show will air over the weekend of Aug. 16-17. ”I wish Disney the best of luck with their new show, whatever form it may take,” Roeper said in a statement quoted in the article. ”In the meantime, it is my intention to proceed elsewhere with my ninth year as the co-host of a movie review show that honors the standards established by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert more than 30 years ago. I will be free to share the details on that program in the near future.”
The show has been on the air in various incarnations — but always featuring two critics sitting in a quiet theater discussing movies — since 1975.