Roger Ebert Announces ‘Leave Of Presence’ After Cancer Returns

on April 03 2013 1:35 PM
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Film critic Roger Ebert (L) and his wife Chaz arrive at the 25th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles March 5, 2010. Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Roger Ebert announced in a blog post that he will be reducing his workload after his cancer has returned. Ebert will continue to write reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times while also developing new projects under Ebert Digital.

Ebert notes he has been the movie critic for the Chicago Sun-Times since April 3, 1967. Since his first review, Ebert has been synonymous with movie criticism, not only writing but also starring in the syndicated “At the Movies” with Gene Siskel, and later Richard Roeper, which reviewed the new movie releases for that week. Ebert has also earned a Pulitzer Prize and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work.

In 2012, Ebert said he was at his busiest, writing 306 reviews while contributing other blog posts and articles for RogerEbert.com and other publications. Ebert announced on his blog that the “leave of presence” was due to the discovery that the “’painful fracture’ that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer.” Ebert is currently undergoing radiation therapy to treat the cancer, and his treatment schedule has prevented him from being able to view the amount of movies he has in the past.

Ebert has been helped by Roeper and other colleagues during this time and, despite the prognosis, the movie critic is merely reducing his workload while continuing to remain an active presence in the movie criticism world.

Ebert announced plans to redesign RogerEbert.com while also creating Ebert Digital that will launch other projects involving film criticism. Ebert will continue to write reviews for Chicago Sun-Times and will blog as well. Ebert addresses the workload change as a positive thing, saying, “My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What's more, I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.” Ebert will also review classic movies as part of his “Great Movies” series of books.

Ebert also announced that his film festival held at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ebertfest, will continue in 2013 and will run from April 17 until April 21. Due to the fan demand, Ebert also announced he will begin a Kickstarter campaign for “At the Movies.”

While known for his film criticism, Ebert said in the blog post that the time may be opportune for him to write about other topics. “I may write about what it's like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you, Ebert continues. “It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.”

With all the other projects Ebert will be working on, he said that he will also continue to support the “bio-documentary” being developed by Martin Scorsese, Steve James and Steve Zaillian.  Ebert ended his blog post saying, “So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies.”