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Roger Ebert Says Show in Danger of Being Canceled

The days may be limited for Urbana native Roger Ebert's weekly show "Ebert Presents: At the Movies," which premiered in January on public television stations across the country.

In a blog post, Roger Ebert says the show will likely be canceled at the end of its current season because of a lack of funding. The longtime film critic says after Kanbar Charitable Trust gave the program an initial $25,000 donation, he and his wife have been footing the rest of the bill to keep the show on the air.

"I believe a program like this is needed on television," Ebert wrote on his blog. "On "Ebert Presents," a new Johnny Depp movie can get two thumbs down (or up, or a split decision) from two intelligent people who will tell you why they voted that way, and challenge one another. Movie coverage on TV is otherwise so intensely driven by marketing that some programs actually cover the marketing itself."

Ebert said that he had hoped other contributors would come forward to underwrite the program, but he said that hasn't happened. Chuck Koplinski, a film critic in Champaign, said with more people getting their movies reviews online, the possible demise of At the Movies is simply a sign of the times.

"They don't want an in-depth discussion of film," Koplinski said. "They want to see if it's worth...if it has enough laughs or enough scares or enough thrills for them to throw their $9 on. I think that this happening to him is just the latest step in the death mill for intelligent film criticism."

"At the Movies" is hosted by Associated Press reviewer Christy Lemire and Mubi.com film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.

Ebert said he has to decide this month if his show will return next year.

Categories: Biography