In the piece that turned out to be his farewell blog post, film critic Roger Ebert announced that even as he began a "leave of presence" from his work, he was also finishing a new RogerEbert.com would feature new contributors and new voices. True to his word, Ebert's wife Chaz announced today that the site had hired an editor to manage its fleet of writers and to contribute reviews: Matt Zoller Seitz, television critic for Vulture, and founder of Indiewire's Press Play blog.
In a new blog post, Chaz Ebert explains why she hired Seitz:
"What Roger and I found refreshing about Matt is his ability to spot and encourage talent in other journalists, critics and video essayists. He mentored them with a benevolent style that helped to bring out the best in what they did. Sound like someone we know? Roger and I watched over the years as Matt founded, edited and operated The House Next Door, which is now part of Slant Magazine, and Press Play, a film and tv blog that spotlighted video essays at IndieWire. Matt's motivated and entrepreneurial spirit is something we admired and wanted to bring to RogerEbert.com."
And in his own introductory piece, Seitz explains, in a conversation with his aspiring filmmaker daughter, Ebert's importance to the world of film criticism:
"The idea, I told her, was that the critic's great calling -- beyond reviewing movies and putting them in a wider context -- was to stir the reader's interest in learning more, and in so doing, deepen the relationship between the medium and its audience. When you read Roger, you wanted to learn more. More about that director. More about that actor or screenwriter. More about the genre that the film exemplified. More about the nation whose culture birthed the people who made the film. More, more, more."
Later, Seitz reassures readers they'll continue to find the site's established blend of reviews, blogs, and contributions from Far-Flung Correspondents, but also promises "more accessible, provocative writing about genre movies... and thoughtful pieces on race, feminism and representation in popular culture," in addition to video essays, a podcast, and video roundtable discussions about film and TV.
Sounds good to me. And so does the idea of Seitz as the steward of RogerEbert.com -- he's a great writer, editor, and essayist, and, as anyone who's read his work knows, was an enormous fan and supporter of Ebert. It won't be the same as having new Roger Ebert reviews to enjoy every Friday. But this looks like a perfect way to carry on his legacy, and to continue furthering the critic's great calling.
Read more of "Greetings!" and "Meet the New Editor of RogerEbert.com: Matt Zoller Seitz."