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August 05, 2009


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Steven Santos

"Mediocrities are not replaced by substantive figures; they are replaced by WORSE MEDIOCRITIES."

Maybe they set the bar so low with the two Bens, there was nowhere else to go except putting two chimps on the show.

Matthias Galvin

There is a God.
Good to know.


Actually I think two chimps would know better than to say in chimpspeak that I Am Legend is one of the greatest movies ever made, so they're probably higher on the Televisual Chain of Being than at least one of the Bens.

This is great news, though whenever I saw Phillips in his previous At The Movies appearances he struck me as kinda whiney. But that's likely because I only remember seeing him when he was beating the Torture Porn dead horse.

Craig Kennedy

Assuming the Lyons family isn't quite done clogging our public airwaves, they should be given a show together so then I only have to skip one unwatchable movie review program at a time.

Kevin J. Olson

This is great news. Both Philips and Scott were great as fill-in co-hosts on At the Movies with Ebert and Roeper.

God, the two Ben's were possibly the worst piece of television being aired. It reminded me of the old Jim Ferguson show on the Preview Channel (now the TV Guide channel)...seriously, that guy had to have been on the payroll of all major movie studios.


I like Scott. I always liked his guest spots when Ebert was out, and, though I don't read him very often, I usually enjoy myself when I do. So this is extremely surprising and good news.


Oh, and also, Glenn, if you do land a guest spot, promote the hell out of it so I don't miss it. I would truly love to see you on a show like that. You and Scott would make a great pair.

Jeffrey M. Rosado

Impressive blog. I'll be back :-)

While I'm happy to see local flavoring come back to the show, I do feel for both Ben and Ben...I was really starting to enjoy them hitting their grooves/getting used to their styles...But that said, I enjoyed Tony and Michael's guest shots pinch hitting for Ebert much, much more and I was dumbfounded as to why the powers that be didn't give them a crack at the gig in the first place...Now we see what happens with fixing something that was never broken. Onward. - Jeffrey

Ryan Kelly

I was like 10 when Siskel died, and I remember being devastated and I don't think I've watched an entire episode since. I've watched some clips on internet, and I've only seen Roeper handle himself well once --- when he took Ebert to task for giving "War of the Worlds" a thumbs down and "The Longest Yard" and "The Honeymooners" thumbs up. If you've never seen it, watch it, because Ebert gets so mad at him. It's the only spark of life I've ever seen between the two of them.

But this is an interesting bit of news, certainly unexpected. But part of me will always be skeptical of any movie criticism that DisneyCo sponsors.


If studio movies get any dumber, monkeys may be too good for the show. But yes, the new hires are a commendable step.


This makes me so happy I'm getting a little depressed.

Earthworm Jim

Honestly I'm still not likely to tune in very much, if it all, but I still had the same reaction as you, Glenn: how did this happen? Not a rhetorical question, by the way. Does anyone know which suit or suits is responsible for realizing that the Bens didn't know what the hell they were talking about?

I came across one episode when Phillips was filling in for Ebert, and he and Roeper were discussing Wong Kar-wai's "My Blueberry Nights" -- a film I love. Phillips, unfortunately going along with conventional wisdom, deemed the film a misfire and compared it to Antonioni's Zabriskie Point -- which elicited a complaint from Roeper that went something like, "Wow, could you have picked a more obscure reference?" Which offered further confirmation that Roeper didn't really know what he was talking about himself (although at least he was charismatic and seemed like a reasonably intelligent guy). Phillips didn't back down, responding with a "Hey, Antonioni is an important filmmaker" before moving on. Made me respect him (Phillipps) more. It's nice to know that he won't have to answer to a partner who thinks Antonioni is too obscure a reference for a show about movies.


This is actually the greatest news I've heard in a long time. Which is maybe sad for me.

While I find Phillips' comedy to be more groan inducing and not quite as sharp as you do, I think he's a very articulate and perfectly commendable choice, and I adore Mr. Scott's writing and thought he did great work as a guest host last season. I look forward to enjoying this show once more. My only complaint is that they ignored you for the position. But since you're a movie star now, perhaps they thought the small screen was beneath you.

Glenn Kenny

Thanks Max. I think the truth of the matter is that my teeth are too gnarly for television. Fat they can live with, bald they can live with, but a combination of the two with unkempt teeth just won't make it.

Trust me, M.P.'s comedy on the Croisette, fueled by Carlsberg, is quite a different proposition than in print. That's what I'm hoping to see on "At The Movies." Might be too much to ask, I know...


This is good news, particularly if Scott and Phillips have the moxie (and the go-ahead) to break out of the usual movie-by-movie, thumbs-up and thumbs-down format, and do the personal pieces that made Siskel and Ebert so valuable. Remember when they did an entire show on Spike Lee? Or the relentless drum-beating for "My Dinner with Andre," "Crumb," "Hoop Dreams" and so many other small, deserving movies? Or the contrarian Oscar choices, which were not just surprising but also well-argued? (My favorite was in 1981, when they said Christopher Reeve deserved a best actor nomination for "Superman II," based on degree of difficulty (he was a character playing himself -- Superman -- and a construct -- Clark Kent; and as Kent, he let the audience in on the performance while letting you believe that others might not catch on.) Great stuff throughout their run; it'd be great if some semblance of it returned to TV.


I agree Phillips and Scott both kind of came alive when they did guest stints on Ebert & Roeper (as it was then called), Phillips exposing a lot of his apperantly un-exposed whit, and Scott carefully navigating around Roeper's either hatred for Scott's beloved films or love for Scott's least favorite. I think Phillips and Scott will be a better team. As consistently blockheaded David Edelstein often is, I enjoyed him on the program aswell.


I used to write capsule movie reviews for a local NYC magazine, so I went to my share of critic screenings. I ran into Jeffrey Lyons a handful of times. I never talked to him, but I sat the waiting area listening to him talk to PR people and other critics. He was pretty obnoxious -- really loud, chatty, kind of a know-it-all.

This is great news.

Dan Coyle

I would totally watch a review show hosted by Glenn... and Sasha Grey. As their characters from The Girlfriend Experience.

Just imagine what the Revenge of the Fallen review would sound like.


Still not as bad as Roeper, who's like Leonard Maltin without the knowledge. The one time EW landed a telling blow was a drawing of Ebert in a theater, with Roeper in his lap like a ventriloquist doll. Summed up their relationship perfectly.

Dan Coyle

I always felt Ebert chose Roeper not just because they had a good back and forth, but that Roeper was a hell of a lot dumber than he was.


If I watched television, I'm sure I would be delighted.

"Personal to Tony Scott: If you're looking for a part-time bodyguard, I'm your man."

Really? I can't imagine he would ever need a bodyguard, as he probably has a fleet of helicopters on call. I'm sure they arrive on the scene complete with pounding electronic music, whirling 360 degree camera moves, quick zooms, and lots and lots of fast cuts...

Oh, you mean THAT Tony Scott...
(sorry, somebody had to.)


Glenn, I'd be curious to know what you think of this:


At the Auteurs, a link to the trailer for "A Serious Man" has led David Ehrenstein to claim that the Coens (along with Tarantino, but of course) have destroyed movies, and brought out an awful lot of surprisingly anti-Coen sentiment from several other commenters. What's going on here?


Oh, you know. David Ehrenstein being needlessly hyperbolic for the sake of righteous indignation. Shocker, etc.

Glenn Kenny

@ Bill and Vadim: Wow, that is quite a thread, although it's not quite as rife with Coen hatred as Bill's description led me to believe (too bad, I was working on a riff that had Mark Peranson or some such type handing out five dollar bills [U.S.] and comment-posting instructions on some street corner or other). My word, Mr. Ehrenstein's rage is practically Armondian in its proportions. Oh well. Good thing he doesn't believe in examining root causes, or else "The King of Comedy" and most of Frank Tashlin's oeuvre would be in a bit of trouble. In waving the flag for what he calls the "serious," he really underscores some of the direr perils of self-seriousness.

Tom Russell

If I didn't know any better, I'd say David Ehrenstein was Ray Carney in disguise.


"Wow, that is quite a thread, although it's not quite as rife with Coen hatred as Bill's description led me to believe..."

Well now, hey. Maybe it's because I live in my own little Coen-loving cocoon, but I was under the impression that these days the Coen brothers were pretty beloved, even by the Auteur set. And I felt like at least half of the comments were pretty derogatory, and half seems like a lot to me.

All I can say for sure, I suppose, is that Ehrenstein accuses the Coens of generating smugness in their audience, and I guess he'd know, because his line about there being a lot of "suckers" in that thread shows that he's cornered the market on that particular personality trait.

And what about the slams against the "Man Who Wasn't There" commentary track? One guy called it "repulsive" (or maybe "repellent"). I've heard that track, and that's not quite how I'd describe it. "Irreverant towards their own work", maybe, but not repulsive.


Good news. I will check out the new duo, eventually. I would be more eager to do so if a woman had been chosen to fill one of the slots but I suppose that’s unthinkable. Seems to me it would not only be a good political move but might do interesting things for the chemistry of the show.


"I always felt Ebert chose Roeper not just because they had a good back and forth, but that Roeper was a hell of a lot dumber than he was."

Actually, no. Roeper was chosen because he was already in town (at the same paper, in fact), thus eliminating the need to fly in and house someone every week.

BTW, I'm not sure Roger wasn't quite as all-powerful as you think. Once, after one show on which he was torn between a thumbs-up or -down, I e-mailed him asking why they simply didn't institute some sort of "sideways" gesture for just that purpose. He replied that he wanted one, but it was not his decision to make.


Bravo, A. O.

Let's hope he can bring at least a sliver of this kind of analysis to the small screen:


Arthur S.

Mr. Ehrenstein dislikes Ray Carney so that would be most ironic.

That said I agree with him.

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