Roger Ebert's Movie-Review Show Going on Hiatus After Running Out of Money

5:58 PM PST 12/01/2011 by Kimberly Nordyke
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The film critic and his wife have been footing the bill for "At the Movies" with the help of a $25,000 contribution since it debuted on public television stations Jan. 21.

Less than a month after making a plea for investors to help keep his movie-review show going, Roger Ebert announced that Ebert Presents: At the Movies will go on hiatus at the end of the year.

"This move is necessary to allow the public television stations that carry our show to plan their programs for the beginning of the new year," the film critic wrote on his Chicago Sun-Times blog. "We held off as long as possible but we had to give notice today."

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Ebert said he and his wife, Chaz, who produces alongside her husband, are still exploring other ways to raise the funds to get the show back on the air. The two have been footing the bill -- alongside a $25,000 contribution from the Kanbar Charitable Trust -- for the show since it debuted Jan. 21.

He wrote that they are still speaking to "the top executives of several channels and film distributors, charitable foundations, Web delivery services, potential corporate sponsors and crowd-funding sources," the latter of which could include a Kickstarter campaign, which was suggested by Ebert's fans.

Ebert remains hopeful the show will come back, saying he hopes the hiatus will be "brief."

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"We really believe in this show and its mission to provide an intelligent place for the discussion of movies in a forum accessible to the public and in a manner that is easily understood yet that feeds the thirst for both entertainment and knowledge," he wrote.

At the Movies, hosted by Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, features the same format that made Ebert a household name when he reviewed movies alongside the late Gene Siskel: two film critics giving their thumbs-up or thumbs-down opinions on upcoming releases.

Ebert, who was left unable to speak after losing his lower jaw to thyroid and salivary gland cancer. also has appeared on multiple episodes.

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Early last month, he took to his blog to ask for donations to keep the show going.

"Unless we find an angel, our television program will go off the air at the end of its current season," he wrote. "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."

He and Chaz paid for the screen test, pilot, titles, set, lighting, office space, design and maintenance of the website and salaries of all those who work on the show, though he and his wife do not take a salary. He said that he wasn't quite clear that would be the case when he first sold the show. 

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