With a post on his blog, Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert announced he was taking what he called "a leave of presence" from full-time reviewing while he deals with a recurrence of cancer. Ebert had been admitted to the hospital in December for a fractured hip; in his new essay, he reveals that the fracture is, in fact, "a cancer:"
"It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to. I have been watching more of them on screener copies that the studios have been kind enough to send to me. My friend and colleague Richard Roeper and other critics have stepped up and kept the newspaper and website current with reviews of all the major releases. So we have and will continue to go on."
Regular RogerEbert.com readers likely have already noticed Ebert's lightened workload and the guest reviews by Roeper and others, but Ebert insists he'll continue to be a regular presence on the site. "I'll be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing," he writes. "Reviewing only the movies I want to review."
True to his "leave of presence" term, Ebert also announced several other new projects in the same blog post: a relaunched website run by a new entity called "Ebert Digital," with Ebert as Editor-In-Chief, his wife Chaz as Publisher, and Josh Golden as Managing Director, as well as an upcoming Kickstarter for his dormant PBS show "Ebert Presents At the Movies" (which, full disclosure, I occasionally contributed to).
Ebert has been fighting cancer off and on since 2002, when he was first diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Salivary gland cancer followed that, and in 2006, Ebert had surgery to remove more cancerous tissue in his neck; complications from the procedure eventually forced the removal of his lower jaw. Through it all though, he's endured and even thrived, and from this not-entirely-unbiased fan's perspective, it has been consistently inspiring to watch. Here's hoping Ebert continues to thrive through this leave of presence for as long as it's required.
Read more of "A Leave of Presence."