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Ebert Remembered: 8 pm Thursday, April 18, on WILL-TV

In highlights from WILL-TV interviews, Roger Ebert talks about his life and work.

 Flm critic Roger Ebert is seen in this July 18, 2005, file photo in Chicago.

Flm critic Roger Ebert in Chicago in 2005 The Associated Press

A new local WILL-TV special, Ebert Remembered, airing at 8 pm Thursday, April 18, will highlight excerpts of WILL-TV interviews with Roger Ebert in which he talks about his childhood in Urbana, his experience at the University of Illinois and his role as a movie critic.

Tom Guback, host of WILL-TV’s Silver Screen movie show, interviewed Ebert in 1995, and asked him whether he’s too easy on movies. Ebert admits he might be a half star too high in his ratings. “It’s better for people to see a movie that might be bad rather than miss a movie that might be good,” Ebert tells him.

Ebert, a Champaign-Urbana native and longtime critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, died April 4. He describes what campus was like when he attended the U of I in the ’60s. The entire cultural scene of the city was included in one building with a coffee shop, Art Mart and a used book store, he says.  “If that building had burned down, there would have been no Bohemia in Champaign-Urbana,” he says.

He talks about violence on TV and in the movies, and about the disappearance of the movie theater experience with the advent of home video. “There is no substitute for light shining through celluloid on a screen with an audience in attendance,” Ebert said.

U of I College of Media Dean Jan Slater will host the one-hour TV special, which also includes excerpts of an interview with Ebert by Pat Matzdorff, a host for the WILL-TV program Critic’s Choice, just before the second Ebert Overlooked Film Festival in 2000. Excerpts from Ebert’s 1997 interview with author Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote “2001: A Space Odyssey,” will also be woven into the retrospective.

The program will be repeated at 4 pm Sunday, April 21, on WILL-TV.

WILL-AM’s Focus at 10 am on Thursday, April 18, will also pay tribute to Ebert’s legacy and his influence on film, culture and our community.  Guest host Jeff Bossert wants to hear your memories about Ebert and how his work impacted your life. Send an email to will-talk@illinois.edu or post on the Focus Facebook page at Focus580.

Ebert was interviewed on WILL radio and television a number of times over the years, and we’ve collected those appearances on a special page.