By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 15, 2010 at 4:50AM
Elvis Mitchell strikes again. The elusive film critic/interviewer has a long history of committing to jobs (and magazine deadlines, and dinner dates) without necessarily coming through. And he was supposed to cohost the new PBS Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies weekly TV series with AP critic Christy Lemire. But the dreadlocked ex-NYTimes critic and host of KCRW-FM's The Treatment has been dropped, though not for lack of chemistry, tweets Ebert, setting the record straight: "Elvis and Christy had great chemistry, as anyone could see who bothered to watch the pilot we posted." (Pilot and Ebert's own blog announcement are on the jump.)
Ebert and wife/producer Chaz are searching for a new co-host to take on the old thumbs-up, thumbs down role in a newly constructed balcony. They will make the announcement in "less than a week," writes Ebert. Paging Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips!
In any case, the new At the Movies show is cleared in 20 top markets, including KCET in Los Angeles and WTTW in Chicago, where Ebert and the late Gene Siskel first taped "Sneak Previews" in 1975. My old Sunday night At the Movies TiVo viewing slot will soon be restored (and today my HD/broadband TiVo upgrade arrives!). The Eberts' new program, in addition to reviewing new movies, will expand into coverage of New Media, special segments on classics, on-demand viewing and genres, and an extended website.
After a long journey, our new program is poised for its debut.
As of today, this is the list of public television stations that will be carrying "Roger Ebert presents At the Movies" starting Jan. 21, 2011. All the top 20 markets are cleared, with 81% national coverage, and we are adding new stations every day. The show will play in prime time or prime access in many major markets, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, San Diego, Denver, San Jose and Detroit. It will have double runs in many cities.
The program is cleared in 192 markets in the United States, and will also go out via the worldwide facilities of the Armed Forces Network. According to the AFN, "The show will be telecast, with an encore airing, available to approximately one million U.S Armed Forces, Department of Defense civilian employees and their families stationed outside the United States in 175 countries abroad and on more than 140 U.S. Navy ships at sea."
The show will return to WTTW, Chicago Public Television, where Gene Siskel and I first taped "Sneak Previews" in 1975. The station still has our original seats, but we are constructing an all new set. Our critics of course will be back in the iconic balcony, and will be using the famous "thumbs up / thumbs down" rating system.
Next week, executive producer Chaz Ebert will make an announcement regarding the co-hosts and contributing critics for the new show. She will also describe our website, with new and original content.
For me, this is the continuation of a journey that began 35 years ago with a local WTTW program at first titled "Opening Soon at a Theater Near You." My wife Chaz and I have been working for two years with many others to bring the format back to television. I believe we will present critics in the show's long tradition. Chaz is taking the leadership responsibilities as Executive Producer. I will be involved in all aspects, and will contribute regular segments of my own.
As Gene loved to say, "Season's Screenings!"
P. S. A word about this PDF file. It uses a template that lists every U.S. market and every public television station in each market. Scroll down to search by state and city. The days and times of airing are tentative and subject to change. We are still adding stations every day.
Here's the underwhelming summer pilot with reviewers Lemire and Mitchell, contributors Kim Morgan and Omar Moore, and a short bit with Ebert and his mechanical voice: