Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
'Justified' Rides Into the Sunset As One of TV's Best Shows, If Not One of Its Most Watched 'Justified' Rides Into the Sunset As One of TV's Best Shows, If Not One of Its Most Watched A Writer From The Onion Totally Destroys Patton Oswalt in This Epic Twitter Rant A Writer From The Onion Totally Destroys Patton Oswalt in This Epic Twitter Rant The Death-by-Skype Horror Movie 'Unfriended' Is an Unlikely Critical Hit The Death-by-Skype Horror Movie 'Unfriended' Is an Unlikely Critical Hit 'Justified's Finale Did Just Enough to Be Perfect 'Justified's Finale Did Just Enough to Be Perfect David Chase Has Explained the Ending of 'The Sopranos' Again. Maybe He Should Stop Explaining David Chase Has Explained the Ending of 'The Sopranos' Again. Maybe He Should Stop Explaining Daily Reads: 10 Reasons Why 'Justified' Rocked, The Case for Kristen Stewart, and more Daily Reads: 10 Reasons Why 'Justified' Rocked, The Case for Kristen Stewart, and more Daily Reads: Why CSI: Cyber Is a Bad Show Worth Watching, the New 'Twin Peaks' Mystery, and More Daily Reads: Why CSI: Cyber Is a Bad Show Worth Watching, the New 'Twin Peaks' Mystery, and More The 'Game of Thrones' Leak: Don't Blame Critics (At Least Not Yet) The 'Game of Thrones' Leak: Don't Blame Critics (At Least Not Yet) The A.V. Club Picks the 100 Best Movies of the Decade; 'The Master' Tops the List The A.V. Club Picks the 100 Best Movies of the Decade; 'The Master' Tops the List Daily Reads: Just Show Us the Damn Trailer, 'The Avengers' vs. 'Man of Steel,' and More Daily Reads: Just Show Us the Damn Trailer, 'The Avengers' vs. 'Man of Steel,' and More Daily Reads: 5 Key 'Game of Thrones' Premiere Scenes, Why 'Wonder Woman' Losing Its Director Was Good News, and More Daily Reads: 5 Key 'Game of Thrones' Premiere Scenes, Why 'Wonder Woman' Losing Its Director Was Good News, and More Why Andrew Jarecki's 'The Jinx' Could Be Very, Very Bad for Documentaries Why Andrew Jarecki's 'The Jinx' Could Be Very, Very Bad for Documentaries 'Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD 'Simpsons' Showrunner Al Jean Says No Further Seasons Will Be Released on DVD The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World What Paul Walker's Digital "Fast & Furious" Double Reveals About the Troubling Future of Film Acting What Paul Walker's Digital "Fast & Furious" Double Reveals About the Troubling Future of Film Acting Criticwire Survey: Best Horror Movies Since 2000 Criticwire Survey: Best Horror Movies Since 2000 Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more 'Orphan Black,' Season 3: Clone Club Reconvenes, With Boys Allowed 'Orphan Black,' Season 3: Clone Club Reconvenes, With Boys Allowed The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" The Scrambled Sexuality of 'Frozen's "Let It Go" 'Disney Deaths' and 'Big Hero 6': How Children's Stories Process Loss 'Disney Deaths' and 'Big Hero 6': How Children's Stories Process Loss

That One Time Siskel Pranked Ebert

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire April 5, 2013 at 10:55AM

"At the Movies" producer David Plummer shares a great story about Gene and Roger.
0
Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.

Not too many people can say they've lived their childhood dream. Through some dumb stroke of luck that I didn't deserve in the slightest, I got to live mine twice: I appeared on two different versions of "At the Movies," the modern update of my favorite show as a kid, "Siskel & Ebert."

The best part about working on "At the Movies" was simply getting to interact with Roger Ebert, his wife Chaz, and with many of their longtime staffers. And the best part about interacting with the staffers were the stories they would tell about Gene and Roger. 

Oh man: the stories.

Siskel and Ebert's competitive rivalry was legendary -- and a big key to their unique onscreen chemistry. They fought as ferociously off-camera as they did in the balcony, and the men and women who worked on the show would spin incredible tales about their hilariously intense feuds, arguments, and pranks. Last night, after I heard about Ebert's passing, I emailed "At the Movies" producer David Plummer -- who now works as producer and contributor for the television show "Windy City Live" -- and begged him to share one of these great anecdotes with the world. Thankfully, he agreed. Here's the story, straight from David:

One of my favorite things to do during the decade or so that I worked with Roger, was to just sit and listen to his stories. He was a master storyteller. Each week after we taped a show, we would all eat lunch together and have a meeting about the next week's show. I especially loved it when he would talk about Gene Siskel. Here's one of my favorites as I remember it being told: 

Roger and Gene were established celebrities at the time. Roger wrote something nice about one of Hollywood's up and coming actresses. Soon after, he received a letter from the actress, thanking him for his kind words. She mentioned that she would be in town the following week and she would love to have dinner with him. She left her phone number. 

Roger, being single at the time, was feeling pretty good about himself. He began boasting about getting the letter from the starlet. Gene hears the joy in Roger's voice and says, "That's great Roger, but I'm sorry to disappoint you, because I wrote that letter." Roger was irate and an argument erupted. 

A few weeks later, Gene walks into the office and asks Roger if he ever called the actress. Roger confused says, "Of course I didn't Gene. Why would I call a number that you wrote down?" 

Gene says, "I was only kidding. I didn't write that letter. I hope you didn't throw it away." 

There are dozens of these types of stories. They had a love/hate relationship and even though it didn't always appear this way, there was more love than hate.

This article is related to: Roger Ebert Fellowship , Roger Ebert (1942-2013)


E-Mail Updates



Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome