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Thumbnails Special Edition: The Legacy of Siskel & Ebert | Chaz’s Journal


Tom Shales lunches with Siskel and Ebert“: A reprint of Tom Shales’ interview with Gene and Roger, originally published on September 4th, 1983, at The Washington Post.

“Siskel and Ebert ended each ‘Sneak Previews’ with a ‘Dog of the Week,’ each critic’s pick for most resounding clinker, heralded by the arrival in the show’s little prop balcony of Spot the Wonder Dog. But Spot left the show under mysterious circumstances (the trades were abuzz with speculation). We wanted the real story. ‘You want the story of Spot, I’ll tell you the story of Spot,’ says Ebert. ‘Spot was fired by PBS because of his salary demands. He was getting $40 a week.’ ‘No, I think he’d gotten higher–65 a show,’ says Siskel. ‘And there was a fee negotiated, apparently, for extra time. If we had a retake or a lunch break or a camera screwed up, the time sequence might change and the dog would have to stay longer. And I think what happened was they wouldn’t pay Bob Hoffmann, his owner, the overtime for his dog. You can laugh about it, but a deal’s a deal, and they tried to back off.’”


When Siskel and Ebert Defended ‘Star Wars’ After It Was Called ‘Not Cinema’“: As recalled by The Hollywood Reporter‘s Ryan Parker.

“That is the moment Ebert predicted the future, decades down the road, when the Walt Disney Co. would purchase Lucasfilm. ‘These are the sorts of movies the Disney people should be making and the kind of movies that Disney made 20, 30 years ago,’ Ebert said. ‘I think all movies are special effects. Movies are not real. They are two-dimensional. It’s a dream. It’s an imagination. So, as to whether this film is good or not, it excited me. It made me laugh. It made me thrilled. And that’s what a movie like this is for. I also enjoy films by Ingmar Bergman and people like that. I share that taste with Mr. Simon, but I try, I think in my own moviegoing taste, to be broad enough to try and understand why a bunch of people would want to get together and see a ‘Star Wars’ movie and enjoy it.’”


Farewell, my friend“: Roger’s heartfelt eulogy for Gene, published on February 21st, 1999. 

“Gene kept private about the state of his health in the months after his surgery. I understood why. He wanted to protect his family from the attention that might result. He wanted the focus to remain on his film criticism, and although it was obvious sometimes that he walked slowly and was in pain, I never once heard him complain. He carried on with a bravery it is hard to imagine. We did the TV show together for 24 years. It was a strange format: Two ordinary-looking guys from Chicago, sitting in a balcony talking about the movies. One question we were asked, again and again, was: ‘Do you really hate each other?’ There were days at the beginning of our relationship when the honest answer sometimes was ‘yes.’ It was unnatural for two men to be rivals six days of the week and sit down together on the seventh. But over the years respect grew between us, and it deepened into friendship and love.”

Image of the Day

In an episode of the animated comedy series, “The Critic,” aired on March 12th, 1995 and entitled, “Siskel & Ebert & Jay & Alice,” Gene and Roger made an unforgettable appearance as themselves. You can watch it here.

Video of the Day

The excerpt referenced above from “I Must Destroy Him,” the first episode of host Brian Raftery’s new eight-part podcast series on The Ringer, “Gene and Roger,” can be listened to in the video embedded above. 

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