A well-known film critic, Roger Ebert gets paid to speak his mind. But he doesn't always limit his opinions to what is playing at the movie theatre.

In response to Jackass star Ryan Dunn's death, Roger Ebert posted a Twitter comment yesterday that read: Friends don't let jackasses drink and drive.

The tweet caused a firestorm of controversy and accusations of insensitivity directed at the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times. Ebert initially defended his comments about Dunn's death, citing reports that Dunn was drinking alcohol before he got into his Porsche and killed another passenger.

It would not be the first time the film reviewer refused to kowtow to his critics. In 2004, he engaged in a public letter-writing battle on the pages of the Chicago Sun-Times with Conrad Black, the former CEO of the newspaper's parent company, Hollinger International.

Ebert took aim at the mogul after accusations surfaced that Black had been using business profits of the parent company for personal use, while the Sun-Times was suffering from lack of funding.

The then-host of Ebert & Roeper at the Movies said he would support a staff strike in an open letter to the publisher, lamenting the millions of dollars winging away to the (former chief operating officer David) Radler and Black billfolds while we worked in a building where even basic maintenance was ignored.''

In turn, Black accused Ebert of being ungrateful for his salary of $500,000 a year.

In 2009, the Bill O'Reilly was the subject of a published Ebert rant, written in response to the inclusion of the Chicago Sun-Times on the conservative pundit's Hall of Shame list. The newspaper had previously dropped O'Reilly syndicated column.

Ebert didn't hold back in his missive:

My editor informs me that very few readers complained about the disappearance of your column, adding, many more complained about Nancy. I know I did. That was the famous Ernie Bushmiller comic strip in which Sluggo explained that wow was mom spelled upside-down.

Nor did he let slip an opportunity to take another crack at Conrad Black, calling him a right-wing polemecist who looted the paper for millions.

But he offered the ousted CEO a compliment at O'Reilly's expense:

Lord Black is a much better writer and thinker, and authored a respected biography about Roosevelt, who we were founded to defend. That newspapers continue to run your column is a mystery to me, since it is composed of knee-jerk frothings and ravings. If I were an editor searching for a conservative, I wouldn't choose a mad dog.

In the face of mounting criticism, Ebert on Tuesday scaled back his intial self-defense, conceding that he was probably too quick to tweet about Ryan Dunn's death.

 

[Sources: CTV News, RogerEbert.com]