Ebert says TV show needs cash infusion

Nov. 7, 2011 at 2:12 PM
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CHICAGO, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Chicago film critic and television personality Roger Ebert says "Ebert Presents at the Movies" will end this season if it doesn't get financial help soon.

"Unless we find an angel, our television program will go off the air at the end of its current season," Ebert wrote in a blog Sunday night for the Chicago Sun-Times. "There. I've said it. Usually in television, people use evasive language. Not me. We'll be gone. I want to be honest about why this is. We can't afford to finance it any longer. Before I go into details, let me say that by any fair measure, 'Ebert Presents at the Movies' has been a great success. The program has a coverage of more than 90 percent of the country, and all of the Top 50 markets. Our ratings place us among the top shows on public television, and compare to the ratings of cable news. And we have loyal and vocal followers."

Ebert said he and his wife Chaz have been financially backing the show almost entirely by themselves since it began in January while they worked to find other sponsors. However, they have had no luck securing partners.

"We can't afford to support the show any longer. That's what it comes down to," Ebert wrote on his blog. "Now American Public Television wants to know if they can tell their member stations we'll be back in 2012. We have to give them our answer this month. Unless we find underwriting, I'm afraid our answer will have to be 'no.'"

The syndicated show stars film critics Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and Christy Lemire. It is being produced in Chicago at WTTW, where Ebert and the late Gene Siskel began taping their "Sneak Previews" review show 35 years ago. Co-producer Ebert also serves as host of a special segment each week.

Ebert, a longtime columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and former co-host of "Siskel and Ebert at the Movies," has battled cancer for years and lost his ability to speak. A syndicated version of "At the Movies," featuring lesser-known critics, was recently canceled.

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