Caught an episode of Ebert and Roeper this weekend, something I've gotten out of the habit of doing since Ebert took his medical leave. Roeper is annoying enough, but when he's paired with 'celebrity' guests and mediocre filmmakers, the sycophantic attitude and ill-defined criticisms are just too much to bear. So it's been awhile, and it took me a few moments to notice something was missing; the Thumbs.
Roger Ebert, left without speech after salivary cancer, owns the copyright to the use of the thumbs up/down gimmick, along with Siskel's widow. Disney and Ebert are in contract negotiations, and when the negotiations stalled, Disney yanked the Thumbs from the show, putting out a press release stating it was Ebert's decision. Ebert used his website(on which he's been reviewing movies again, thankfully) to state that he had allowed Disney the use of the Thumbs as a sign of good faith. I'm not sure what this means for the future of the show, although I can't imagine Disney firing Ebert from the show(Ebert does expect his voice to return as he heals).
Part of the reason I think his job is secure is the fact that Roeper just needs someone to slap him around every once in awhile. And on that matter, they may have finally found the perfect guest host, someone willing to loudly, jovially and vehemently disagree with Roeper, and openly mock is silly, silly opinons. Robert Wilonsky is a film critic I've never heard of before, although I've since read a few of his reviews online(there's a few available here). I can't honestly say whether or not I agree with his opinions, because I haven't seen any of the films he discussed, although I'd like to think he's woefully off the mark with his negative review of Across the Universe, a film I've been anticipating for awhile. I see he's been the gues for awhile, and he'll still be here next week, so I think I may start watching Ebert and Roeper again. Still, good critic or no, Wilonsky is the shot in the arm this show needs while it awaits the inevitable, glorious return of Ebert.