Film critics Ebert, Roeper leaving their TV show

Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:09pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Influential film critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper are departing the movie-review show that bears their names, the two announced separately, leaving the program's future unclear.

Ebert, 66, who has been sidelined as co-host of "At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper" since 2006 due to health problems, said in a statement posted on Monday on the Web site of the Chicago Sun-Times that he was ending his relationship with the show.

He had no explanation for his departure, but said producers had decided to "take the program in a new direction." Ebert, arguably America's best-known film critic, had remained active behind the scenes despite losing his voice to cancer.

His announcement came a day after Roeper, 48, said his last appearance on the show would be an episode airing August 17. Both Ebert and Roeper are columnists for the Sun-Times.

The show's production company, Disney-ABC Domestic Television, had no immediate comment on the future of the long-running program, which Ebert launched 33 years ago with late Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel.

Ebert said he and Siskel's widow, Marlene Iglitzen, will retain the show's trademarked catch-phrase "two thumbs up" for some future use.

"After 33 years on the air, 23 of them with Disney, the studio has decided to take the program named 'Siskel & Ebert' and then 'Ebert & Roeper' in a new direction. I will no longer be associated with it," Ebert's statement said.

Roeper joined the show eight years ago, after Siskel died of complications from a surgery to remove a brain tumor.   Continued...

<p>Movie critic Roger Ebert gives the thumbs-up as he arrives at a ceremony to receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood in this June 23, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files</p>