After a battle with thyroid and salivary gland cancer sidelined Roger Ebert and left him without part of his jawbone and unable to speak, he bravely returned to his post as film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times last year, an inspiring feat that could warm the hearts of anyone in the film industry. Anyone, that is, except gruff New York Post critic Lou Lumenick. According to the NY Daily News, both film critics found themselves at a Toronto Film Festival screening of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, though Lumenick wasn't aware that he was sitting in front of Ebert, nor that he was blocking his view. Not long after the lights went down, Ebert tapped on Lumenick's shoulder, soliciting a shouted, "Don't touch me!" Ten minutes later, he tried again to the same response. That's when things got ugly:
A few minutes later, says our source, "[Lumenick] stands up in the darkness and thwacks [Ebert] behind him with a big festival binder. He hit him so hard everybody could hear it. Everyone freaked out and turned around." ..."Apparently, Roger was just trying to tap Lumenick on the shoulder to signal him that he couldn't see the movie," surmises our source. "He was trying to ask him to move over a bit." Though Lumenick seemed surprised to see whom he had struck, he offered no apology, according to another source.
Perhaps if Lumenick spent less time striking ailing film critics and more time fact-checking, he'd be filing TIFF reports with less inaccuracies (such as this one, which wrongly stated Magnolia was to buy Che — it was IFC — and misses the fact that Warner Independent picked up Slumdog in a negative pickup and sold it to Fox Searchlight). Hey, Lou: Ebert may still be recovering, but we have a feeling he can still do a lot of damage with no more than two strategically-jabbed thumbs.