UPDATE: Ugh. The retooled Ebert & Roeper show premiering September 6th will be co-hosted by Ben & Ben — a Generation Why duo who only got the gig due to nepotism. Ben Lyons is the nobody son of Jeffrey Lyons, the film critic world’s biggest hack and quote whore with zero credibility, while Ben Mankiewicz is the slacker host on Turner Classic Movies, whose only claim to fame is that he’s a watered-down member of the famous film family. Now, there’s a working definition of the death of film criticism for you.
It’s not really a surprise that Disney-ABC Domestic Television finally decided to take At The Movies “in a new direction”. Except for the old Siskel & Ebert show, there’s never been a successful talk show about film on TV. Because people would rather watch movies than hear others yakking about them. Plus, the Internet provides so much more resource material to moviegoers that TV soundbites just don’t cut it anymore. And now even amateur bloggers consider themselves qualified film critics, while the quality film reviewers find their print forums disappearing. It’s also been a while since a “Thumbs Up” meant anything to the movie biz when studios can buy Web raves with a bribe or two. Ebert has fought various health challenges, Roeper plans to co-host another review show, and At The Movies as we knew it is kaput in mid-August. Sadly, I expect the next incarnation will involve more hairspray and toadying than criticism.