Roger Ebert’s ‘At the Movies’ Going on Hiatus With Money Woes

Ebert and wife Chaz had been using mostly personal money to fund the movie review series

Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert said his "Ebert Presents At the Movies" TV series will go on hiatus at the end of December, while he tries to gather additional money sources to continue funding the show.

Ebert said the "sad but necessary moment of realism" came this week because execs at the public television stations that broadcast the show needed time to plan their 2012 schedules.

American Public Television distributes the show, which is aired in more than 95 percent of the country.

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"At the Movies," which is filmed in the same Chicago studio where Ebert and the late Gene Siskel launched their "thumbs up/thumbs down" series "Sneak Previews," features Associated Press movie reviewer Christy Lemire and critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky sharing their takes on new movie releases each week.

After an initial grant of $25,000 to launch "At the Movies," Ebert and his co-producer (and wife), Chaz Ebert, had been using personal funds to produce the show.

"We've spoken to the top executives of several channels and film distributors, charitable foundations, web delivery services, potential corporate sponsors and crowd-funding sources," Ebert wrote on his blog Wednesday.

"And we are still talking with them, but the time crunch has intervened. It is a complicated process, and so we are going on hiatus while we sort it out."

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Ebert launched "At the Movies" as a syndicated movie review series with Siskel in 1982, and continued it with critic Richard Roeper after Siskel's 1999 death.

Ebert left the show himself in 2006, while dealing with his thyroid cancer diagnosis, and a rotating line-up of critics filled in until the show was cancelled in 2010. "Ebert Presents At the Movies," the current incarnation of the show, debuted on Jan. 21, 2011.

The critic says he's optimistic the show will go on, especially since fans have offered ideas — and cash — to help him.

"We hope our hiatus will be brief," Ebert wrote in his blog. "You have told us you like the show. And we now have options. A touching number of viewers offered to send us money directly. One of the avenues we may take is a Kickstarter campaign, as you suggested. We will let you know as soon as that is worked out. Please have faith in us as we sort through the possibilities. Thank you and Happy Holidays."