Thumb Wrestling: Ebert Vs Disney

According to noted film critic Roger Ebert, some folks at Disney, much like their character of Pinocchio, should have noses that are magically growing for telling lies.

Ebert is currently in negotiations with the media giant over what he calls his “association with the show [At The Movies] that Gene Siskel and I started more than 30 years ago.” Part of those negotiations involve the continued use of the show’s iconic Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down ratings for films that Ebert and the family of his late partner Siskel own a trademark on.

On Friday, a Disney spokesperson told the Associated Press that Ebert had “exercised his right to withhold use of the `thumbs’ until a new contract is signed.”

Ebert – whose health problems have kept him from appearing on the show for over a year, leaving current co-host Richard Roeper to pair up with numerous guest critics – issued his own statement later in the day, denying the Disney statement. In part is stated –

Contrary to Disney’s press release, I did not demand the removal of the Thumbs™. They made a first offer on Friday which I considered offensively low. I responded with a counter-offer. They did not reply to this, and on Monday ordered the Thumbs™ removed from the show. This is not something I expected after an association of over 22 years. I had made it clear the Thumbs™ could remain during good-faith negotiations.

Frankly, I’m more than a bit amazed that Disney would release such a statement, knowing that Ebert would immediately refute it. Is this a case where a publicist was misinformed? I tend to doubt it as it has been reported that the first two installments of At The Movie’s new season have already been shot, and they don’t have any Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down ratings in them.

If this is Disney just trying to play hardball with Ebert, well then, I guess I’d have to give them my own personal thumbs d—

Actually, I think I’ll give them The Finger.

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About Rich Drees 6299 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty years experience writing about film and pop culture.

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