Lyons and Mankiewicz “At the Movies?” What the Hell?
The latest incarnation of “At the Movies” premiered this week. We can now say the venerable 30 year old show Siskel and Ebert made famous is official dead. We all hoped Roger Ebert would return to his hosting duties after leaving the show in 2006 due to heath concerns. It now appears these hopes will never materialize.
On July 21, 2008, Richard Roeper announced he was leaving the show, after he and Disney did not reach an agreement on a new contract (CNN story). His last show aired on the weekend of August 16. On the same day, Ebert announced through a statement on his website that Disney had “decided to take the program … in a new direction” and that he would therefore no longer be associated with the show (Statement from Roger Ebert). The following day, Disney announced that Ben Lyons (son of film critic Jeffrey Lyons) and Ben Mankiewicz would take over as the new hosts for At The Movies beginning on September 6, 2008. This “new direction” shouldn’t come as a big surprise for anyone following this story. A year ago, Disney pulled the thumbs system from the program during contractual negotiations with Ebert over his involvement with the program.
Now, OK, Disney wants to take the show in a “new direction,” fine. But, Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz? What’s the matter, wasn’t Mitt Romney available? I don’t know who Lyons and Mankiewicz are, but is Disney even trying to fill the shoes of Ebert? Why not really take the show in a new direction with someone like Chris Gore or Harry Knowles?
“At the Movies” has never been big on production values, but this new show looks like a late night info-commercial. This should be playing on the TV Guide Channel, not something that pretends to be the legacy of Siskel and Ebert. The only good to come out of this is that my DVR has a little more space. “The Balcony is Closed!”
To leave on a hopeful note, both Ebert and Roeper have hinted of returning for a possible new show, that would continue the traditional format devised by Ebert and Siskel. Keep your thumbs crossed!