Richard Roeper announced Sunday that he will be leaving At the Movies With Ebert & Roeper after eight years, after failing to reach a contract with Disney-ABC for a ninth season. For Roeper, it hasn't been the same since co-host Roger Ebert became sick and was unable to be on the show for most of the past two seasons.
I'm fairly sure I speak for the entire population of movie fans when I say that we agree with Roeper: It hasn't been the same. But that's not necessarily because the guest co-hosts can't measure up to Ebert (though most can't). It's also because Roeper himself doesn't hold a candle to his colleague. He's annoyingly fanboy-ish for a show that used to be one of the most reliable things going when it came to film criticism.
So, on second thought, the show hasn't been the same since Roeper replaced Gene Siskel, who died of cancer in 1999. How Roeper was chosen from the fill-in co-hosts at that time is beyond me. It's hard to feel like not coming to a contract even warrants a statement.
Until I read that industry sources are saying Disney's plans for At the Movies might be to turn into something more Hollywood (because movie are so not Hollywood, you know), similar to Entertainment Tonight. Right, because what TV needs is yet another tabloid TV show. Didn't the CW try to add one last year, only to be met with colossal failure?
Maybe I'm changing my tune on Roeper, then. Because if keeping him around would keep At the Movies in its current format instead of turning it into another gross celebrity gossipfest, I'd be happy for him to stay on for years and years. Please, Roeper, please. I'm not too proud to beg, and I'm pretty sure I could get Jason Segel to help me.