Ebert says TV show may end if no financing found soon

Mon Nov 7, 2011 12:50pm EST
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(Reuters) - Veteran film critic Roger Ebert said that his "At the Movies" television show will leave the airways at the end of the current season unless funding is found in the coming days to continue financing it.

Noting that he and his wife, co-producer Chaz Ebert, have been funding "Ebert Presents" on public television channel PBSalmost entirely by themselves since it premiered in January, Ebert wrote on his blog "we can't afford to do the show any longer."

Ebert said the new show, the latest version of the legendary "Sneak Previews" movie review show that Ebert launched in 1979 with Gene Siskel, has been "a great success," shown in more than 90 percent of the country and boasting ratings near the top on U.S. public television.

But he wrote that as co-producers, he and his wife were expected "to find foundations or other sources that would underwrite it. We believed so firmly in the show that Chaz and I agreed to back it personally" while they searched.

And, he said, they had funded the show almost entirely themselves, along backing from the Kanbar Charitable Trust, paying for the set, the titles, and all of the salaries, including current co-hosts Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.

Ebert said he must tell PBS sometime this month whether the show will be back next year, writing: "Unless we find underwriting, I'm afraid our answer will have to be "no."

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Jill Serjeant)