With his new PBS show, Roger Ebert goes alternative
Roger Ebert may embody the film-critic establishment, but he's going young and anti-establishment with some of the personalities on his new "Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies."
The man who helped make movie reviews a spectator sport announced Tuesday that he's hired Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, a little-known 24-year-old Chicago critic, to replace Elvis Mitchell in the co-host chair of his new PBS show, which debuts in a little over two weeks. The critic will share the screen with the Associated Press' Christy Lemire, who was named to the spot several months ago.
Vishnevetsky (screen name: Iggy Vish?) is an essayist at the cinephile site Mubi.com, contributor to the alternative weekly Chicago Reader and a programmer for a University of Chicago film series. Ebert said in a statement that he heard the young reviewer talking about films at a Chicago screening, where he was "struck by the depth and detail of his film knowledge, and by how articulate he was."
Although he had approached older, more recognizable print critics for the gig, Ebert seems to have resolved to usher in a new era of movie reviewing, alluding in his statement to an "explosion of great online film criticism." In some ways, it's the kind of gamble that Disney made on Ebert's replacement several years ago when it went young with Ben Lyons -- although where Lyons was a red-carpet guy at E!, Vishnevetsky is his spiritual opposite, coming out of the film-geek community the Web has made possible.
Ebert also announced that the show will feature contributions from, among others, political pundit Jeff Greenfield and Los Angeles film-blog presence David Poland -- as well as Omar Moore, a San Francisco attorney who runs the movie site The Popcorn Reel, and Kim Morgan, the editor of MSN's The Hitlist who also is behind an an irreverent film-nerd blog called Sunset Gun. Your father's "At the Movies" this ain't.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert of "Siskel & Ebert At the Movies." Credit: Tribune Broadcasting
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