Chicago-based writer, editor, father, son and uncle. My interests are widespread. Which, you'll discover if you keep coming back.
Needless to say, the passing of Roger Ebert is very sad. There has been so much said already about him, by people far better versed in his career than me. But here’s what I can tell you about Mr. Ebert, and his long-time colleague Gene Siskel.
They were among the last of an era. Chicagoans to their cores. Celebrated newspaper men from opposite sides of the river. Giants in their trade and born to compete. The original frenemies. They were made for each other, no doubt. They soared to success, sold countless newspapers, and defined an industry because of equal parts ferociousness and respect.
Siskel & Ebert were a staple in our household when I was growing up. We watched them regularly and not just because we didn’t have hundreds of channels from which to choose. We watched for them—much more than we watched for the reviews. They were magnetic. Tension, but also warmth. They were welcome guests—the two of them—in our living room every week.
When Gene died so did the magic. His replacement, Richard Roeper, is a fine columnist and reviewer but nobody expected him to carry the torch. He could not.
Now that Roger has died Chicago is mourning a legend, and at the same time a legendary duo. As impactful to the industry as Laurel and Hardy, and as prideful to our city as greats like Mike Royko and the Daleys. As it has been said, “the balcony is closed”. Thankfully, we have YouTube for moments like these: