It wasn’t just a television show but the emergence of a whole new TV genre. When At The Movies went syndicated in 1982, with Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel as hosts, the notion of a weekly movie-review TV show took hold. But in 1986, Siskel and Ebert left the show after a dispute arose with Tribune Entertainment. They were replaced by Rex Reed and Bill Harris, and the show continued through 1990.
Much later, in 2007, At the Movies was rebooted as At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper. When Ebert suffered complications following cancer surgery that left him unable to speak, Richard Roeper went forward with an array of guest hosts. Turbulent contract negotiations resulted in both Ebert and Roeper walking away from the program in 2008, taking the trademarked thumbs with them. In their absence, Ben Mankiewicz and the widely panned Ben Lyons stepped in as hosts for a single year before being replaced by Chicago Tribune critic Michael Phillips and New York Times critic A.O. Scott.
It was recently announced that Aug. 14 would be the last episode of At the Movies, an announcement that surprised few fans. After all, this was Siskel and Ebert’s show — people knew their names better than the actual name of the program — and when you took away one (or both), At the Movies just wasn’t the same. “RIP, ‘At The Movies,’ ” Ebert tweeted the day that news of the show’s cancellation broke. “Memories.”
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