Roger Ebert's revamped "At the Movies" film reviews program is set to debut on Friday and features co-hosts Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and Christy Lemire, as well as Ebert himself, who speaks through a computer.
Vishnevetsky is a Russian-born critic and essayist for Mubi.com, an online cinematheque, co-founder of Cine-File.info and a contributing writer for The Chicago Reader. Lemire works for The Associated Press.
"Can you think of another TV show that deals with the movies as movies instead of as celebrity showcases?" Ebert told the news wire. "We don't praise everything."
The 68-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner and the Chicago Sun-Times movie critic lost the ability to speak due to reconstructive surgeries for thyroid cancer about four years ago. Since 2006, Ebert has continued to review films and post messages on his Twitter account, which is followed by more than 314,000 people. He also communicates via Post-it Notes and by typing into a computer, which then reads out his text aloud.
"He truly cares about the legacy," Lemire, 38, told the Associated Press. "He's put a lot of faith in us, which is humbling. He's also made it easy to step into those feet and be our best."
Ebert's new weekly program will air on public television stations nationwide. The show is a revival of a show that used his copyrighted "Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down" format.
The original "At the Movies" had several show titles and began in 1975, airing on the Chicago-based PBS station WTTW. It featured Ebert's longtime friend and fellow film reviewer Gene Siskel, who died of brain cancer 1999. It began airing nationally in the 1980s.
Richard Roeper replaced Siskel after his death and Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz took over for both him and Ebert in 2008. A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips replaced the two in 2009 and the show was canceled earlier this year. Disney-ABC Domestic Television, OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company, had said the show was "no longer sustainable from a business perspective."
Check out an interview with Roger Ebert from March, in which he spoke about the way he communicates post-surgery, courtesy of WLS Television in Chicago, the sister station of KABC Television, OnTheRedCarpet.com's parent company.