CHICAGO, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Roger Ebert has confirmed a fellow U.S. film critic "whacked" him with something at a screening but insists the incident was blown out of proportion.
Ebert's battle with thyroid and salivary gland cancer has robbed him of his power to talk.
He apparently tapped New York Post critic Lou Lumenick on the shoulder several times in a darkened movie theater to ask Lumenick to move over since Ebert couldn't see during a press screening at the Toronto Film Festival, the New York Daily News said.
Lumenick allegedly twice yelled at Ebert, then turned around and hit him in the knee.
"He hit him so hard everybody could hear it. Everyone freaked out and turned around," a source told the Daily News.
"If it were up to me, you would never have heard about the incident ... when a fellow critic whacked me with a rolled-up program or a festival binder or something. It has been blown out of proportion," Ebert, the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote in a column for his newspaper.
Calling the Daily News's story a "basically accurate account," Ebert insisted he wasn't hurt and said he wants to put the incident behind him.
"This whole matter was embarrassing, because it drew attention to me and invited pity, which makes me cringe," Ebert wrote. "My wife, Chaz, did not witness this. Her reaction when she heard, 'I'll get a no-neck guy from the West Side to break his knees.' Just rhetorical, I trust."