Thumbs Up for Roger Ebert

On the heels of the news that Roger Ebert will no longer be a part of At the Movies, his long-running film review show, comes word of his replacements. The dreamy Ben Lyons from E! (son of increasingly dim critic Jeffrey) and a fellow named Ben Mankiewicz will usher in a new, hipper, younger-skewing At The Movies. A sad but inevitable development. Though Ebert hasn't been on the show since 2006, recovering from various ailments related to a tumor on his salivary gland, his presence on the show will still be missed. At least we've got his myriad film reviews and blog posts to go to for his literate but accessible musings on film.

I mean, he's not Pauline Kael, but he did manage to bring a gimlet eye to the week's films for a broad and diverse audience, one that wouldn't necessarily take advice from two slumps from Chicago (the other being the late great Gene Siskel)-or maybe even think about films so qualitatively-had it not been for the pair's warmth, wit, and ever-wagging thumbs. Ebert has done it tirelessly for years, even during a painful illness. He's cranky, sure, but also oddly pleasant and appealing. He's your beery uncle who talks your ear off at family parties, but is interesting when he does it. We may not always agree with Ebert or find his opinions "highbrow" enough, but he's been an enduring and affecting presence in popular culture and we hope that, though the balcony is forever closed, he will continue to be for a good long while.