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David Poland

By David Poland

Trying To Fill Ebert

ADDED, Friday 11:51aJay Leno As Guest Host
I guess I need to speak to this, after having spoken to the Kevin Smith thing…
Again, Leno will be great. He really loves movies. (He used to call in on our Saturday afternoon radio show here in L.A. and never wanted to be JAY LENO, but really wanted to just talk movies.) And obviously, he knows how to be on TV.
They are shooting in L.A., on a makeshift set. Of course, the heart of this show has always been that it is in Chicago and doesn’t stunt in NY or L.A.
What is interesting to me, as I think about it, is that the bigger the name opposite Roeper, the more I will miss Roger… the more distant the whole thing will be from The Man. I know this is not the intent of Mr. Leno or Mr. Smith. But it is what I think I will feel.
I suspect that there will be a lot of discussion about getting Joel Siegel or David Ansen or Richard Corliss or Tony Scott (Manohla won’t do it, I don’t think) into the E-seat in the 3rd guest slot, just to bring the show back to some sense of its roots. But good ratings for Leno would probably kill that and send Regis Philbin into the spot.
And really, much as I respect Leno and his love of films, bumping Kevin Smith like a talk show guest who steps back because your “A” guest finally said “yes,” is kinda grotesque.
It’s getting sordid.
Kevin Smith To Fill Ebert

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44 Responses to “Trying To Fill Ebert”

  1. palmtree says:

    I prefer having you for lunch every week or so.
    Btw, any chance you’ll takes us out to places other than Ammo?

  2. Jimmy the Gent says:

    I posed this question in a previous thread: Who will come off as more smug? Smith or Roeper? In a way these two self-absorbed hipster critics deserve each other. Can you imagine what it would look like if Scorsese was the guest critic? He would eat Roeper for lunch. Roeper is Leno to Ebert’s Carson or Letterman. I doubt he could handle serious critical discussions with other movie critics.
    Once again Smith doesn’t seem to realize that he’s crossing a line by taking this “stunt” gig. It’ll play to his fan base, but it won’t be his proudest moment. It would be interesting if the Smith appearance is followed by Joel Siegel. That would be killer TV.

  3. Lota says:

    Roeper makes me cringe with the snideness, so i wonder if Smith will play the “good cop” to his “bad cop” and maybe the show would be watchable. Then again I don;t want to watch either of those two guys talk about anything, really. Bummer for the audience.

  4. jeffmcm says:

    What does DP mean “reduction of a once important show to a DVD release”?

  5. David Poland says:

    DVD release and 90 second review show

  6. jeffmcm says:

    Oh, you mean ‘reviews of movies for 90 seconds and DVD releases’. Never mind.

  7. Hallick says:

    I get that the DVD segment is useful and can turn some people on to films they otherwise would overlook. That isn’t the ridiculous part of “Ebert and Roeper” right now; except for the fact that too many times they pick movies that were hits or won an Academy Award and therefore need no further exposure. Movies that will have a monolithic wall of DVDs at Blockbuster.
    But the fatal downturn they took that I still don’t understand is their reviewing the same movie in two, three, or even FOUR different broadcasts. When they might have 5 or 6 new movies that need more attention than the box office smash getting exposure over and over and over again!
    That was where I stopped trying to catch the show anymore. I already had better things to do. Now I just have better misfortunes to attend to.

  8. martin says:

    ‘DVD release and 90 second review show’ essentially means ‘not a serious film criticism show’. Ebert has long held that S&E/E&R is an entertainment show. If you want serious commentary, go to his written reviews. I’m not saying that there’s nothing wrong with Kevin Smith filling in as a pro-movie critic, but I think for this current tv show it’s entirely beside the point. I read Ebert every week, have so for at least 5 or 6 years, but I rarely watch the show. I may just tune in to see this.

  9. palmtree says:

    Kevin could be fun. I just hope he doesn’t use it as an opportunity to plug his stuff. “You know when I worked on blah blah blah…” Suggestion: they should replace Roeper while they are at it.
    Hope Ebert gets better…he was still funny and quick on his Daily Show appearance earlier this year.
    btw, anyone see the gag reel of Ebert and Siskel ribbing each other? It’s hilarious, but I forgot the link though…

  10. Joe Leydon says:

    Martin brings up a point that a lot of folks forget: Roger Ebert is a great WRITER — a Pulitzer Prize-winning great writer — who also happens to be a TV star. Yes, I know: Most people out there know him only as Mr. Thumb’s Up or whatever. But week in, week out, he writes some of the best criticism (if not THE best) that appears in any newspaper, magazine or website today. I can give or take the TV show. But I will be very, very distressed if he’s not back to writing sooner than later because I steal from… er, reference him… ah, I mean, I’m inspired by him all the time.

  11. Hopscotch says:

    I’ve seen that too on Hillarious.
    It shows them as how I’d hoped they’d be. Not bitter rivals forced to be partners, but wiseass academics who like to rib the other guy. The video is also a clear proof of how much weight Ebert has lost over the years.

  12. Eric says:

    I’m really starting to miss Ebert– he’s the only critic I read every week. I haven’t found anybody yet who has such a fine eye for both the prestigious and the popular.

  13. Zac Bertschy says:

    Did you predict the same doomsday scenario for the show when Harry Knowles guest-hosted?

  14. MASON says:

    Now that he’s completely run the View Askew world into the ground with Clerks 2, do you think Kevin has anything left to say as a filmmaker? Or will he make this critic thing a permanent gig? Judging by his hilarious “An Evening With Smith” DVD, he’s much better at talking about movies than making them.

  15. martin says:

    mason, same thing ran through my mind. Highly unlikely smith’s ego will allow him to stop writing/directing but this does feel kind of like a career transition.

  16. Joe Leydon says:

    But isn’t this a kind of reverse transition? I mean, didn’t people like Truffaut and Bogdanovich establish the gameplan of critic-to-filmmaker, not the other way around?

  17. PetalumaFilms says:

    I saw a press screening of MIAMI VICE last night and I gotta say…I’m not jealous of Kevin or Roeper as they’ll have to try and put into words what is BAR NONE one of the WORST MOVIES I’ve ever, ever seen. I’m still stunned that the film simply failed on every level. It’s an atrocity. I went in wanting some mindless fun…I was reay and willing to have it…but MIAMI VICE let me down.

  18. Arrow77 says:

    I agree that Roger Ebert the t.v. show host is a lot easier to replace than Roger Ebert the writer. The only point I ever had of watching the show was that it sometimes offered a preview of his forthcoming reviews. With this little time to review a film, Kevin Smith will do as good a job as anyone. With this little time to review a film, it’s not a review, it’s a movie chat!

  19. sky_capitan says:

    Kevin Smith’s career highlights
    heh heh. [link taken from MCN Femme-Fatale blog]
    All so true.

  20. jeffmcm says:

    Why not just go all the way and make the show Smith & Knowles? They could have a year-end wrap up that would highlight with a two-part Sumo/Lightsaber battle royale.

  21. David Poland says:

    No, Zac… nor when I guested.
    The difference was that Ebert was still there. Different animal completely.

  22. movies411 says:

    But this definitely isn’t the first time you’ve predicted this show would end. Last time was when one of the producers was fired a few years ago.

  23. Trickster says:

    The problem with your argument is that all of the things that you decry about the show (shorter review time, Roeper hire, and Kevin Smith fill in) has happen with Roger Ebert’s tacit approval. If Roger Ebert had quit the show after Siskel’s death, it would be have been an uncompromising but ballsy move. Ideally, Ebert should be hosting a commercial free review show on Turner Classic Movies, IFC, or Sundance channel. In my opinion, he did not want to lose the enormous influence, significant wealth, and considerable celebrity that came with having the only movie review show still on free television. I also think that he feels a commitment to giving a non-Hollywood view of current films which both he and Siskel gave to close to 25 years.
    Some of my favorites Siskel & Ebert episodes came after Siskel

  24. Cadavra says:

    Roger only has so much influence on the show. I once asked him why they didn’t just institute a “thumbs sideways” for movies they were really conflicted on. He replied that he wished they could, but the producers nixed it. (Something to do with the trademark, I suspect.)
    And of course, the main reason Roeper was picked is because he lives right there in Chicago. Flying Joyce Kulhawik in and out of Boston every week was murder on HOT TICKET’s budget, and I’m sure Disney was keenly aware of that.

  25. Trickster says:

    Ebert has the power but he chooses not to use it. There is no show if Ebert is not there. Does anyone really think that the glib Roeper could do a review show and garner 1/2 the audience that Ebert was getting when he had guest hosts?

  26. movies411 says:

    Granted, “Roeper & Whoever” won’t get great ratings.
    But I read years ago that Siskel & Ebert were each making a mil a year, just for doing the show.
    You know Roeper’s not making that and whoever replaces Ebert won’t make close.
    Suddenly, 1/2 the ratings, doesn’t look so bad, when you cut 1/2 the budget.
    Having said that, I can’t wait for Ebert to come back.

  27. jeffmcm says:

    There’s no show without Ebert.

  28. Spacesheik says:

    Harry Knowles did it once. Man was that painful to watch.
    On one side you have a literati, classy film critic and on the other a dishevelled internet huckster who likes ‘pwesents.’
    What a contrast.

  29. Richard Nash says:

    I wonder if Kevin Smith will walk out and pan any of the movies he’s reviewing.
    Let’s be honest here. Who even watches that show anymore? What kind of ratings could it possibly gather? Does anyone know of anyone who watches it and decides what to see based on how they review?
    If you really want to get technical. The show died when Gene passed.

  30. Cadavra says:

    Trickster, it may be true that there would be no more show without Ebert. That still doesn’t mean he can get whatever he wants. The most powerful people in the business still answer to someone else, even if it’s a board of directors.

  31. PetalumaFilms says:

    Speaking of reviews and reviewers…
    That was mighty big of you to post that headline about Mr. Leydon’s blog on the front page of MCN…especially after that last freak out flame session he had directed at you on this here blog.
    I dig Joe and like his writing but that last blog war was…weird and creepy. Thumbs up on the blog pimping. Nice start on your blog, Joe!
    I saw a MIAMI VICE trailer on TV last night and one of your (Dave’s) pull quotes lead it off. I was surprised to see that…not because of the source, but because you actually LIKED MIAMI VICE! I’m still pissed at the time I wasted seeing that P.O.S. I went back and read your review too…shocking. It’s such a bad movie…I can’t believe people are liking it. “Excusing” it’s crappiness because “that’s what Mann does” doesn’t work for me.
    Have a good weekend y’all!

  32. movies411 says:

    You seem to have forgotten that “Siskel & Ebert” used to tape special shows from Disney World or Land at least once a year. What’s more grotesque than that? And they’ve done shows from Sundance and Toronto in the past…
    Just curious, but would you accept the invitation if they called you and asked you to come back on as a guest critic opposite Roeper?

  33. jeffmcm says:

    Hey Petaluma, do you have a more detailed review somewhere, on another thread or something?

  34. jeffmcm says:

    Oh yeah, re: Roeper & Whoever – did they bump Smith for Leno (there goes any interest I might have had in watching the show) or did Smith pull out? Either way, it’s officially ridiculous. Leno might love movies but I’m pretty sure I don’t care about his opinion.

  35. Hopscotch says:

    Leno’s only got three years left at the Tonight Show…maybe he’s thinking about his next career phase.
    He’s one of those weird kind of celebrities. His jokes on his show are very low brow and stupid. He asks his guest very low brow and stupid questions, “So we get to see your (insert body part) in this movie?”. Yet if you’ve ever read an interview with the guy he’s really charming and somewhat subversive. I’m a little young to remember his old stand ups but I hear he used to be really funny. I’m actually really curious on how he does.

  36. jeffmcm says:

    You’re right, he used to be much more hip and cutting-edge. I think the word is ‘sell-out’.

  37. jeffmcm says:

    It appears that Smith didn’t get bumped, he got rescheduled to a week later.

  38. David Poland says:

    The word “bumped” is used in Talk Show World to describe someone being re-booked for another show because the show runs out of time or a bigger guest turns up.
    And yes, Smith was bumped.
    Leno was very funny and often edgy. His schtick on regular Letterman appearances was “What’s Your Beef?” and his look was leather jacket. I think it’s unfair to say he sold out by becoming what he has become. He is a pro and he took a job that came with limitations and he is living very successfully within those limitations. Letterman has done the same, moving from 12:30 to 11:30 (and now 11:35), though less so and I think given Letterman’s loyal core, that some of his old regulars, like Fran Lebowitz, would be welcome additions.
    If I were invited to do The Seat & The Roep, which I will not be, it would only because Roger really wanted me to do it, in which case I would.
    Obviously, I am not a celebrity, so I can’t honestly say whether I would agree to do the show if I was one. No doubt, they are at least telling Leno, others, that Roger is in on these decisions. I would need to speak to The Man directly in that case, I think.

  39. jeffmcm says:

    I know what ‘bumped’ means. As far as we know, Smith had something come up and couldn’t do the Aug. 4-5 show. DP, do you know that he was bumped for Leno as a fact?
    And I think that Leno has allowed himself to be restricted a lot more than Letterman has, for a larger audience…which is my definition of selling out. When you say “though less so” do you mean that Letterman has restricted himself less or has been less successful with his restrictions?

  40. jeffmcm says:

    Sorry for the snippiness.

  41. Joe Leydon says:

    Oddly enough, I recall covering Jay Leno when he performed at a comedy club here in Houston during the early ’80s — and laughing like a drunken hyena duirng his rotuine about beautiful women who do dumb things in slasher movies. He might surprise a lot of folks with his critical prowess.

  42. Spacesheik says:

    I don’t know Joe…Ever since I saw Jay Leno tell one of his guests (Clooney? Thurman?) that BATMAN AND ROBIN was a ‘great movie,’I’ve been ambivalent about his ‘film critiques’, to say the least.
    He strikes me as someone who loves ‘cheese’ (GONE IN 60 SECONDS, DEEP BLUE SEA etc)

  43. simon bottom says:

    I’m pleased that I am not a News Corp, shareholder! With all the on going problems it is facing in the United Kingdomwith the now closed, News of the World. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp based in Delaware; is also facing a legal challenge from its shareholders. These shareholders, including investment funds, labor and municipal pension funds are accusing Murdoch of misusing News Corp assets, by treating the company like a family candy jar, which he raids whenever his appetite strikes. It looks like the trouble are just starting!

  44. Krillian says:

    He gave a thumbs up to Shadowboxer because he liked the Joseph Gordon-Levitt / Mo’Nique pairing… wait a minute, what year is this?

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