Posted on Friday, September 7th, 2012 by Germain Lussier
The world’s most famous film critic is having a documentary made about him by some of the most famous filmmakers around. Documentarian Steve James (Hoop Dreams) and Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List) have optioned the rights to Ebert’s 2011 memoir, Life Itself. Martin Scorsese will executive produce. Read more after the jump.
Ebert tweeted the news.
Whoa! My memoir has been optioned for a doc by Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") and Steven Zaillian, with Martin Scorsese as exec producer.
— Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) September 7, 2012
Ebert is best known for his long running movie review TV show, Siskel and Ebert, but after the passing of Gene Giskel, Ebert himself faced some incredible trials as he battled thyroid cancer and, due to complications with the treatment, lost his ability to eat, drink and speak. He never lost his mind, though, and Ebert took the terrible news and turned it into a positive, writing and interacting more with his readers than ever before.
He’s more than worthy of a high-end documentary and, one can imagine, it’ll also double as some sort of dissection of film criticism itself. Who better that the face of criticism to lead that discussion?
Ebert shared his thoughts on the exciting development with CriticWire:
This dropped out of the blue. They say they have a good idea for an approach. I believe Steve James’ ‘Hoop Dreams’ is one of the greatest documentaries ever made, and my hopes for this are so high. I never thought of my book as a doc. I’m keeping hands off any involvement, such as with the screenplay, because I don’t want to be a third wheel. Whatever they do I will be fascinated.
Here’s the description of the book on Amazon:
Roger Ebert is the best-known film critic of our time. He has been reviewing films for the Chicago Sun-Times since 1967, and was the first film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. He has appeared on television for four decades, including twenty-three years as cohost of Siskel & Ebert at the Movies.
In 2006, complications from thyroid cancer treatment resulted in the loss of his ability to eat, drink, or speak. But with the loss of his voice, Ebert has only become a more prolific and influential writer. And now, for the first time, he tells the full, dramatic story of his life and career.
Roger Ebert’s journalism carried him on a path far from his nearly idyllic childhood in Urbana, Illinois. It is a journey that began as a reporter for his local daily, and took him to Chicago, where he was unexpectedly given the job of film critic for the Sun-Times, launching a lifetime’s adventures.
In this candid, personal history, Ebert chronicles it all: his loves, losses, and obsessions; his struggle and recovery from alcoholism; his marriage; his politics; and his spiritual beliefs. He writes about his years at the Sun-Times, his colorful newspaper friends, and his life-changing collaboration with Gene Siskel. He remembers his friendships with Studs Terkel, Mike Royko, Oprah Winfrey, and Russ Meyer (for whom he wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and an ill-fated Sex Pistols movie). He shares his insights into movie stars and directors like John Wayne, Werner Herzog, and Martin Scorsese.
This is a story that only Roger Ebert could tell. Filled with the same deep insight, dry wit, and sharp observations that his readers have long cherished, this is more than a memoir-it is a singular, warm-hearted, inspiring look at life itself.
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