Sunday, January 31, 2010

Celebrities I Met at Sundance: Roger Ebert

Does anyone reading this really need background info on Roger Ebert? He's only one half of the world's most famous film critic duo. In 1967, he began writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, a publication that he still writes for to this day. Eight years later, he and the late Gene Siskel started a television show called Sneak Previews which gained popularity until At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert and eventually Siskel & Ebert & The Movies were formed. The latter would prove to be the duo's most successful and longest running television show which aired until Siskel's death in 1999. Richard Roeper eventually filled the empty seat and the new duo pressed on.

What some readers might not know is that, in 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer and after a long struggle, the famed critic eventually had to have a section of his jaw removed. Today, Ebert can no longer audibly speak, eat, or drink without a feeding tube, but he continues to view films, write reviews, and uses a computer to communicate both through typed words and through two electronic voices, the first, a British accent he named "Lawrence," and the second, an American accent he named "Alex." Despite his hardships, he still travels the world to do what he loves, watch movies. How badass is that? I've often said that if I had 24 hours to live, I'd spend it watching movies. Well, Ebert has a lot longer to live and he's got the fame and resources to see any movie he pleases.

The movie he chose to see that day was The Duplass Brothers' new comedy Cyrus where he sat just two seats down from Whitney and I and a couple friends we met at the festival. He sat with his wife, Chaz. After the film, he was sitting in the lobby where I waved and said "hi" and he slightly nodded. That was my entire encounter with one of the world's most famous movie critics. I give it a Thumbs Up.


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Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Ebert seems incredibly magnanimous, just based on my interactions with him at his blog. I'm looking forward to his film festival in April, personally, as it'll be my first, and I'll get to meet the guy.