A couple years ago Roger Ebert decided to put his entire review library online at RogerEbert.com. I’ve spent many hours on that website researching past movies in the extensive review database. I use to collect Ebert’s movie yearbooks which collected all his film reviews in a yearly collection. It amazed me that Roger would risk putting his entire archive online free of charge. And now he’s doing it again.
Starting Thursday, August 2nd, Ebert will be putting an archive of his television reviews online. The 1,000+ television shows represent more than 5,000 reviews, and will be available on demand at atthemoviestv.com.
“Gene and I knew those old shows would be worth saving, but for a long time nobody agreed with us. In the years before home video, it seemed like a waste of expensive video tape to preserve hundreds of episodes of our earlier incarnations on “Opening Soon at a Theater Near You,” “Sneak Previews” or “At the Movies.” After all, the movies we were reviewing weren’t going to be opening again, and who’d want to watch a show of old movie reviews? Right?” asks Ebert. “all of that changed, and the current era of DVDs and Blockbuster and Netflix and streaming online content began to unfold. Today, there would be an audience for the original Siskel & Ebert reviews of, say, “Batman” or “Jurassic Park,” or Ebert & Roeper trading opinions on “Crash” or “Brokeback Mountain,” or Martin Scorsese and I picking the best film of he 1990s.”
The archive will be searchable in various ways, including the ability for users to look-up specific movies, stars, or directors. But what Ebert also offers us an update on his current situation:
“I’m back in action in the Chicago Sun-Times and at rogerebert.com, but not on the air; the Ebert & Roeper site will provide links to my Sun-Times print reviews. Meanwhile, I watch from the other side of the camera. I hope to reclaim that other seat eventually, but I need more surgery to restore my ability to speak. I hope the show, now in its 32nd year, goes on and on and on. That was another thing Gene and I agreed on.”
I hope Roger comes back soon. Those guest critics are unwatchable at times (Jay Leno, John Mellencamp?), and Richard Roeper is only as good as his counterpoint.