Film critic Roger Ebert has announced that he and fellow critic Richard Roeper have parted ways with DIsney-ABC Domestic Television, the production company behind the long-running movie review program that bore their names.
Unable to come to terms over the use of Ebert’s trademarked “Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down” judgement on the films being considered and with details concerning Roeper’s contract renewal, Disney has announced that they plan to continue with a show similar to At The Movies With Ebert & Roeper, but have it move in a “new direction.” Ebert has been in negotiations with Disney for almost a year for use of the “thumbs” trademark.
The first incarnation of the famous film review show premiered in 1975 on PBS, when Roger Ebert, a critic for the Chicago Sun Times sat across the aisle from Gene Siskel, a critic for the rival Chiacgo Tribune. It was their weekly, lively back-and-forth and their ultimate Roman Coliseum-style “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” judgment on a movie that earned them a prominent spot on the entertainment news landscape. Ultimately, the pair became famous enough that appearances on Late Night With David Letterman and even a guest spot hosting Saturday Night Live followed. They took their show into syndication in 1982, landing with Disney in 1986.
Following Siskel’s death in 1999, Ebert was joined by Sun Times columnist Richard Roeper, who himself has co-hosted the show with a variety of rotating guest critics over the two years while Ebert has been dealing with a series of health problems.
A video archive of reviews of the show can be found here.