By Scott Cameron and Sean Powers with reporting from AP
A life-sized bronze sculpture of Roger Ebert was unveiled Thursday outside the Virginia Theater in Champaign.
The artist who designed the statue of the late movie critic sitting between two empty theater seats says the piece took six months to complete.
Rick Harney said he talked with Roger’s widow, Chaz, throughout the project and did his best to humanize Ebert.
“He worked hard,” Harney said. “He fell in love. He got sick. Those are things that everyone can relate to. I tried to make it so he didn’t look to statuesque. I just tried to see him like a regular guy.”
Chaz Ebert said her husband would have felt honored that the statue was built, but embarrassed because he was modest.
The sculpture will remain outside the Virginia Theater during this year's EbertFest, which ends Sunday. Those who commissioned it hope to have it permanently installed this summer.
Ebert, a longtime Chicago Sun-Times critic and Urbana native, died last April.
After he lost his voice, some say film critic Roger Ebert became an even better writer, pouring all his efforts into movie reviews and other columns. As he further mastered his craft, legendary writer, historian, actor and broadcaster Studs Terkel sent him a note about his ‘new’ voice. “This – what you write now, it’s more than about movies. Yes, it’s about the movies but there is something added. A new REFLECTION on life itself.”
Those last words became the title for Roger Ebert’s 2011 memoir, and is now the title of a new documentary about his life. Steven Zailian, screenwriter for ‘Schindler’s List” among other films, first approached director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, 2005) in late 2012 about the project. When James first met with Chaz and Roger about the direction the film would take, no one could have predicted he would pass away just five months later.
During this Focus interview, Jeff Bossert talks with filmmaker Steve James and Chaz Ebert about capturing Roger’s life, and his death, on film.
From WILL - News Local/State - April 04, 2014 4:59 PM
When we started brainstorming for the Year 25 series, Roger Ebert was one of the first names that came to mind. What was the life of a to-be Pulitzer prize-winning film critic like during the intense twenty-something years? We had to find out.
Pulitzer Prize winning film critic, screenwriter and journalist Roger Ebert will be remembered as one of the greatest film critics of all time. His mark on the cinema, our culture and our community are undeniable. This hour on Focus, guest host Jeff Bossert talks with Chicgao Tribune film critic Michael Phillips. Phillips filled in for Roger on "At the Movies" when he first became ill and later took over the show. We'll also hear from several members of the Champaign-Urbana community and a long-time Ebertfest volunteer.
Did you know and love Roger? What did he mean to you? To our community? We want to hear from you this hour on Focus.
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.
From WILL - News Local/State - April 05, 2013 11:49 AM
For most people, the name Roger Ebert stands out as a man who’s known for giving movies a thumbs up or down. And it’s widely known he hails from Urbana. But to those who haven’t read the famed critic’s memoir, there’s a backstory to a man who didn’t set out to write about film.
Host David Inge spoke with film critic Roger Ebert on the program Focus 580 on March 14, 1997. Ebert was in Champaign-Urbana for a symposium entitled Cyberfest. The night before the interview, Ebert had introduced a showing of a 70 mm print of one of his favorite films of all time, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ebert discussed Kubrick at length, saying that as hard as critics have tried to find a common thread throughout Kubrick's films, each film is " a completely new departure," and compares his filmmaking to the music of Beethoven. Ebert also discusses the development of the last film Kubrick would direct, Eyes Wide Shut, as well as A.I., which at the time of the interview was under development with Kubrick the presumed director (Steven Spielberg would eventually direct the final film).
Ebert also discusses the role of a smaller opening weekend as a way of building an audience for a film as opposed to depending on a large opening weekend to keep a film in theaters. He takes questions from listeners about Kubrick; silent film; Champaign's Virginia Theater; classic film restoration as a method of promoting home video releases; the differences between Hollywood studios and small independent studios; the difficulty of filming science fiction, and growing up on Washington Street in Urbana.