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Thompson on Hollywood

New Orleans Films Louis and The Big Uneasy Screen on Katrina Anniversary

New Orleans Films Louis and The Big Uneasy Screen on Katrina Anniversary
It's unheard of for a movie to play one night in five cities before it's finished and before it has a distributor. But nothing about Louis--which inspired widely divergent reactions at a recent Beverly Hills screening--is what you'd call normal. Also marking the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, radio host/writer/actor Harry Shearer's searing expose The Big Uneasy hits theaters August 30 for one night only.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 25, 2010 11:22 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Ebert Named Webby Person of the Year

Ebert Named Webby Person of the Year
The Webby Awards have named Roger Ebert their Person of the Year. The Webbys credit the Chicago Sun-Times film critic with raising the bar for the “level of poignancy, thoughtfulness and critique one can achieve on the web” and having an “unparalleled level of engagement with followers and fans.”
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • May 4, 2010 6:35 AM
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  • 0 Comments

3-D Divide: Upfront vs. Retrofit

3-D Divide: Upfront vs. Retrofit
No one in Hollywood will listen now that Avatar and Alice in Wonderland have scored the mother-lode of grosses as 3-D movies. Could Alice have done as well in 2-D as a perfect match between name director, beloved children's book, and family-friendly studio? No, confirms Disney, because 70% of its grosses came from 3-D screens.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 31, 2010 1:29 AM
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  • 10 Comments

Disney/ABC To Close At the Movies Balcony

Disney/ABC To Close At the Movies Balcony
Driving another nail into the coffin of genteel film criticism, Disney/ABC is finally closing down the At the Movies balcony for good. Started by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, continued by Ebert and Richard Roeper, then a series of guest critics ending with Michael Phillips, At the Movies was cut off at the knees by the idiotic idea of putting two young would-be critics, Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz in the show. At the Movies came back to life--as far as I was concerned--with the return of Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott. But I guess these two gentleman critics couldn't turn the ship around in time.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 24, 2010 12:36 PM
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  • 11 Comments

Ebert Tries New Computer Voice First on Wife Chaz, Then Oprah

Ebert Tries New Computer Voice First on Wife Chaz, Then Oprah
Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert seems to be everywhere these days, from the cover of Esquire (a must-read) to a Tuesday appearance on Oprah Winfrey. Ebert shares his Oscar predicts with Oprah, using his new computer voice, which uses audio from his old shows to recreate a voice that sounds a lot like him. Other times he sounds like Stephen Hawking.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 2, 2010 7:53 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Esquire Profiles Roger Ebert

Esquire Profiles Roger Ebert
Post-cancer surgery, jawless Chicago film critic Roger Ebert has found his voice: on-line. He's movingly profiled by Chris Jones in Esquire. The irony is that even though Ebert's not on Disney/ABC's At the Movies anymore, he is still the most powerful critic in America. Yes, his reviews are published in old-media newspaper The Chicago Sun-Times and syndicated around the country, but Ebert also tirelessly blogs and tweets. He's the new model film critic, and all others should take notice.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • February 17, 2010 9:13 AM
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  • 3 Comments

#Sundance: Stewart's Welcome to the Rileys, Keener's Cyrus, Hoffman's Jack Goes Boating

#Sundance: Stewart's Welcome to the Rileys, Keener's Cyrus, Hoffman's Jack Goes Boating
Two of this year's Sundance it-girls are women of a certain age: Catherine Keener, who rocks in both Please Give and Cyrus (as John C. Reilly's ex-wife), and Melissa Leo, who stars in both The Dry Land and Welcome to the Rileys. The straight-forward Jake Scott drama is well-written by Ken Hixon (executive produced by Steve Zaillian) and executed by Kristen Stewart as a damaged stripper-prostitute and James Gandolfini as a lonely man still recovering from the teen death of his daughter. Leo is his equally wounded wife. It will be fascinating to see how distribs navigate the distance between Stewart's younger Twilight fanbase and this hard-R drama. This is also an issue for Apparition's The Runaways.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • January 24, 2010 7:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Telluride Day One: The Road, Waking Sleeping Beauty

Telluride Day One: The Road, Waking Sleeping Beauty
At LAX this morning I chatted with indie press agent Laura Kim and ex-Disney exec Peter Schneider, who produced Don Hahn's documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty. The doc tells the story of how Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and the 80s generation of Disney animators woke up the sleeping Disney animation giant between 1984 and 1994. Schneider, who has been working on Broadway, showed the film to ex-Disney chairman Michael Eisner, who isn't a fan. The current Disney management--Bob Iger and Dick Cook--are supportive of the movie, however. In fact, Leonard Maltin told me on the shuttle through the splendid Rockies this afternoon, Cook has been supportive of a number of Disney animation docs that needed help with clips, cooperation, and even release, from Frank and Ollie to Walt & El Grupo, about a Disney excursion to Latin America. It's in Disney's interest to keep fanning the old Walt flame.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 3, 2009 12:12 PM
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  • 4 Comments

Introducing New At the Movies Team

After they got the sack, the young and callow two Bens vanished from At the Movies, which is now gearing up for a Labor Day Weekend reboot. Just watching this preview of the Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips and the New York Times' A.O. Scott makes me eager to get back into the At the Movies habit, spending time with two brainy film critics who will dig way deeper into movies than any ATM team since the original Ebert and Siskel. At a time when the overall film discussion seems to be dumbing down, these guys are going to smarten things up. Thank God.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 1, 2009 1:49 AM
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  • 12 Comments

Critics Faves: Arty or Artful?

Critics Faves: Arty or Artful?
In the fall season, as hundreds of movies are launched and weighed at film festivals, critics come into their own. They don't hold much sway with audiences in the summer. But in the fall, suddenly, what they think does matter.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • August 31, 2009 8:58 AM
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  • 12 Comments

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