It was only a matter of time… Richard Roeper announced on Sunday that he is leaving the nationally syndicated Ebert & Roeper movie review television show. Apparently, Disney-ABC Domestic Television and Roeper were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension, so Roeper’s last appearance on the show will air the weekend of August 16th. And with that Roger Ebert, who has been sidelined from the show for almost two years due to heath issues, has announced that Disney has decided to take the show in “a new direction” in which he “will no longer be associated with it.”

“The show was a wonderful experience. It was a great loss to me when surgery in July 2006 made it impossible for me to appear on the air any longer. Although I remained active behind the scenes, I feel that Richard Roeper and several co-hosts, notably Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott, have excelled at carrying on the tradition Gene Siskel and I began in 1975 with “Sneak Previews” on PBS,” wrote Ebert. “Gene and I felt the formula was simplicity itself: Two film critics, sitting across the aisle from each other in a movie balcony, debating the new films of the week. We developed an entirely new concept for TV that has lasted all these years. Few shows have been on the air so long and remained so popular. We made television history, and established the trademarked catch-phrase ‘Two thumbs up.’ “

Ebert concludes his letter reminding everyone that he still owns the trademark with Gene’s widow, “and the thumbs will return.”

“We are discussing possibilities, and plan to continue the show’s tradition,” promises Ebert.

Roeper, who joined the show in 2000 after the death of Ebert’s original co-host Gene Siskel, says he intends to “proceed elsewhere … as the co-host of a movie review show that honors the standards established by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert more than 30 years ago.”

source: AP

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