Our most famous film reviewer is refuting a Disney press release claiming he has exercised his right to withhold use of his trademarked “thumbs up/thumbs down” until a new contract is signed for At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper with the syndicated TV show’s distributor, Disney-ABC Domestic TV. I received this email today from Roger Ebert:
This is my response to the Associated Press story stating I withdrew the “thumbs” from the show. I was not contacted by a Disney publicist or by e-mail. I am discussing with Disney my association with the show that Gene Siskel and I started more than 30 years ago. In addition to my personal involvement, we are discussing the continued use of our “thumbs” trademarks, owned by myself and the Siskel family. Contrary to Disney’s press release, I did not demand the removal of the “thumbs”. They made a first offer on Friday which I considered offensively low. I responded with a counter-offer. They did not reply to this, and on Monday ordered the “thumbs” removed from the show. This is not something I expected after an association of over 22 years. I had made it clear the “thumbs” could remain during good-faith negotiations. During my absence from the balcony, I have been excited to participate in the show in ways other than being on the set. I love the show and I love the “thumbs” and I hope we will all be reunited soon.
And here is the Associated Press story Friday told from Disney’s point of view:
Film critic Roger Ebert bans thumb reviews for now
Associated Press – August 24, 2007 9:54 PM ET
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Roger Ebert has turned thumbs down on thumb reviews for At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper. Ebert is negotiating a new contract with the syndicated TV show’s distributor, Disney-ABC Domestic Television. He’s a a copyright holder on the signature “thumbs up-thumbs down” judgment that’s part of each film review. The company said in a statement released to The Associated Press tonight that Ebert has exercised his right to withhold use of the “thumbs” until a new contract is signed. Ebert, also a film critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, has been prevented from appearing on the show for more than a year by health problems. Ebert did not immediately respond for a request for comment made through a publicist for the show and by e-mail.