Roger Ebert is bringing back "At the Movies," the landmark film review program that he created with Gene Siskel in 1975.
The new version, "Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies," will be co-produced by Ebert and his wife Chaz at the original series' birthplace, WTTW Chicago, and broadcast on PBS stations nationwide beginning in January, he announced on his website Friday.
The trademarked "thumbs up, thumbs down" format will be revived as well. Principal critics will be Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Elvis Mitchell of KCRW (pictured). Bloggers Kim Morgan and Omar Moore will be featured contributors.
Ebert, who lost his ability to speak after a bout with thyroid cancer, will appear in every episode, with segments titled "Roger's Office." He will use his computer voice to discuss classic, overlooked and new films. But he will not debate with the two co-hosts, he said. "They'll be awarding the Thumbs, and you can't have three Thumbs."
"This is the rebirth of a dream," he added.
"At the Movies" began life as "Opening Soon at a Theater Near You," and then in 1976 became known as "Sneak Previews." The original format moved off of PBS and into syndication as "At the Movies" in 1982 with Tribune Entertainment and a quarter-century with Buena Vista Television.
Siskel co-hosted the series until his death in early 1999. He was replaced by Richard Roeper.
Ebert exited hosting duties in 2006 for cancer treatment, with various guest hosts filling in; that is also when the "thumbs up, thumbs down" ratings went away. Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz were installed as co-hosts in 2008, lasting one season, before being replaced by Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott. The show was canceled by Buena Vista Television in March.
Lemire began reviewing for AP in 1999 and was named its first full-time film critic in 2004. Mitchell is host of KCRW's "The Treatment" and a former film critic for the New York Times. He hosted the highly regarded "Black List" series on TCM.
In other Ebert news, the active Twitterer is participating in a Toronto International Film Festival event Saturday in which six Twitter-savvy panelists will each respond to Ebert’s statements about the film industry. The audience will vote on who had the best tweet per round, taking into account wit and originality.