January 22, 2011 / 12:27 AM / 7 years ago

Roger Ebert gets prosthetic chin ahead of TV return

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Influential film critic Roger Ebert is showing off a new look ahead of his return to television, wearing a prosthetic chin to mask damage to his face from thyroid cancer.

Film critic Roger Ebert arrives to attend the Webby Awards in New York June 14, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Last year, magazine Esquire profiled the Pulitzer-prize winning Chicago Sun-Times critic and published a picture revealing the effects of drastic surgeries on his jaw since his diagnosis with thyroid cancer in 2002.

His drooping lower lip gave his face the appearance of a permanent smile, and his chin was misshapen. He told the magazine that he was happy with his life, but he also described his difficulties since the surgeries, which also took away his ability to speak.

But in a blog post earlier this week, Ebert showed a picture of himself with the prosthesis painted to match his skin tone.

“I will wear the prosthesis on the new television show,” Ebert, 68, wrote. “... 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.”

“Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies,” will debut on Friday on public television across the United States. The TV show marks Ebert’s first return to television since 2006 when he stopped appearing on the review show “At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper”.

“At the beginning of this process I assumed I would wear the new prosthesis whenever I left the house, so that ‘nobody would know,’” Ebert wrote on the post. “But everybody knows.”

Ebert said he had first thought of wearing a fake beard over his chin, before settling on the silicone prosthesis sculpted to resemble his former face.

Contributing critics for the new TV show will use the trademark thumbs up or thumbs down rating system Ebert created with his friend, the late critic Gene Siskel, who died of brain cancer in 1999. Ebert will appear in segments of the show.

Ebert continues to write and to review films, and communicates through a computer program that turns text into speech.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Jill Serjeant

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