Roger Ebert recently tweeted that the new incarnation of the movie review show he helped pioneer, now called Roger Ebert Presents At The Movies is set to premiere on January 21 in 194 markets in the United States and on the Armed Forces Network worldwide. Click here to find out which markets are locked up.

When the show was announced in September, famous film critics Elvis Mitchell, formerly of the New York Times and The Associated Press‘s Christy Lemire were all set to host. However, the Chicago Sun-Times is now reporting that Mitchell has been dropped and they’re considering replacing him with “a young male in his mid-20s with little or no experience as a movie critic or as a TV talent.” Oh no. Read more after the jump.

In the Sun-Times article it says that “since that announcement, there had been growing concern about whether Mitchell was the right person for the job. One source who had seen the pilot shot earlier this year with Lemire and Mitchell said it showed little on-air chemistry between the two.” Ebert, however, took to Twitter to refute that statement.

To set the goddamn record straight: Elvis and Christy had great chemistry, as anyone could see who bothered to watch the pilot we posted.

Either way, it seems that Mitchell, the incredibly articulate former New York Times critic, needs to be replaced. Who could possibly fill his shoes? Back to the Times.

One dark horse candidate believed to be under consideration is a young male in his mid-20s with little or no experience as a movie critic or as a TV talent. Another possible option, sources said, would involve a pairing of Lemire with another critic described as a female version of tart-tongued former “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell.

I never though I’d say this, but pick the Simon Cowell. If Ebert and his wife Chaz, the producers on the show, know what’s good for them, they will not hire a “male in his mid-20s with little or no experience as a movie critic or as a TV talent.” The reason we watched all the previous incarnations of the show -  Siskel & Ebert, Ebert & Roeper, At the Movies and more – was because the critics on the show were experienced, talented and incredibly well-versed. Mitchell and Lemire fit that bill.

What would be the upside to putting someone on TV who has no experience with movies? While the layman probably wouldn’t care if one of the hosts was wildly unqualified, movie fans would immediately reject the show and dismiss any recommendations the show gave.

Ultimately, the Eberts will have the final say on the second of the two sparring critics on their new movie review show review. “This will be an enormous decision with enormous consequences,” said one source.

An announcement should be made before the end of the year so the show can be ready by the 21st.

As something of a critic myself, I can safely say that a job on At the Movies is THE dream job. All critics aspire to the respect and name recognition that Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel made for themselves well before they were on TV. To give that job to someone who isn’t qualified would be a disgrace.

What do you all think? Any idea who this mystery person could be?

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.

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